My Life as a Foreign Country and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
£16.54
  • RRP: £16.99
  • You Save: £0.45 (3%)
FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 3 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
My Life as a Foreign Coun... has been added to your Basket
Trade in your item
Get a £0.34
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

My Life as a Foreign Country Hardcover – 26 Jun 2014

2 customer reviews

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
£16.54
£5.77 £0.02
£16.54 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

My Life as a Foreign Country + Here, Bullet + Phantom Noise
Price For All Three: £35.44

Buy the selected items together


Trade In this Item for up to £0.34
Trade in My Life as a Foreign Country for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £0.34, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (26 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224097431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224097437
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

"My Life as a Foreign Country is brilliant and beautiful. It surely ranks with the best war memoirs I've ever encountered - a humane, heartbreaking, and expertly crafted work of literature." (Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried)

"Contemporary wars are built on the distortion of language, the awful acronyms and euphemisms meant to screen us from the real. But in Brian Turner's extraordinarily capable hands, language is war's undoing, in the sense that these words won't allow absurdity and terror to be anything less than real." (Mark Doty)

"Brian Turner has given us not so much a memoir as a mediation, rendered with grace and wit and wisdom. If you want to know what modern soldiers see when they look at their world, read this book." (Larry Heinemann, author of Paco's Story, recipient of the National Book Award.)

"I love about My Life as A Foreign Country is its weird laugh-out-loud mood, and its in-the-thick-of-it hyper-sensual ability to capture beauty in the midst of terror. In these pages, home-spun truths sit alongside quotes from Marcus Aurelius, Walt Whitman and The Bhagavad Gita. My Life... is the melted-down language of a dream despatch from a capacious-hearted warrior poet." (Daljit Nagra)

"A brilliant fever dream of war’s surreality, its lastingness, its place in families and in the fate of nations. Each sentence has been carefully measured, weighed with loss and vitality, the hard-earned language of a survivor who has seen the world destroyed and written it back to life. This is a profound and beautiful work of art." (Benjamin Busch, author of Dust to Dust)

Book Description

'My Life as a Foreign Country is brilliant and beautiful. It surely ranks with the best war memoirs I've ever encountered - a humane, heartbreaking, and expertly crafted work of literature.' Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried

Inside This Book

(Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
1
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on 8 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
As horrific, ill-planned and misguided as the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been, they have, in spite of themselves, yielded a bumper crop of beautifully written books. Two such books, both memoirs from combat veterans, that immediately come to mind are Benjamin Busch's Dust to Dust: A Memoir and Brian Castner's The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows. To those books I will now add Brian Turner's moving memoir, MY LIFE AS A FOREIGN COUNTRY.

Busch's book moved effortlessly between memories of his combat experiences in Iraq and his childhood. Ironically, of the latter time, the former Marine begins his narrative with, "I was not allowed to have a gun." Later he tells us, "There is something to be said about being dust. It is where we are all headed." There is a telling matter-of-factness in Busch's treatment of death and its inevitability.

Castner, haunted by his harrowing experiences as a bomb disposal specialist with the Air Force, tells us calmly from the outset: "The first thing you should know about me is that I'm crazy."

In his own memoir, Turner tells us: "Sgt. Turner is dead." And he thinks of himself, alternately, as a drone and its operator-pilot, flying over hostile territory, photo-mapping and gathering intelligence.

Death, insanity, and, again, death. These are hardly surprising themes in books that deal with war and its aftermath. Like Busch and Castner before him, Turner maps the landscape of war, both external and internal, assesses the damage, and meditates on its consequences. Words are his medium.

Brian Turner has already published two critically acclaimed volumes of war poetry, Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This isn't your run of the mill war story. While many veterans have written about their personal experiences of serving on the front line, few have done so as elegantly as Brian Turner. On every page you get the sense that he's chiseled every word from deep introspection. The narrative is multi personal. His personal experience balanced against those of the people he has fought with and against. Above all, this book leaves the lasting impression of s person who has found a way of channeling his wartime experiences into compelling narrative
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 20 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
An important addition to the literature of war. My highest recommendation 8 Sept. 2014
By Timothy J. Bazzett - Published on Amazon.com
As horrific, ill-planned and misguided as the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been, they have, in spite of themselves, yielded a bumper crop of beautifully written books. Two such books, both memoirs from combat veterans, that immediately come to mind are Benjamin Busch's Dust to Dust: A Memoir and Brian Castner's The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows. To those books I will now add Brian Turner's moving memoir, MY LIFE AS A FOREIGN COUNTRY.

Busch's book moved effortlessly between memories of his combat experiences in Iraq and his childhood. Ironically, of the latter time, the former Marine begins his narrative with, "I was not allowed to have a gun." Later he tells us, "There is something to be said about being dust. It is where we are all headed." There is a telling matter-of-factness in Busch's treatment of death and its inevitability.

Castner, haunted by his harrowing experiences as a bomb disposal specialist with the Air Force, tells us calmly from the outset: "The first thing you should know about me is that I'm crazy."

In his own memoir, Turner tells us: "Sgt. Turner is dead." And he thinks of himself, alternately, as a drone and its operator-pilot, flying over hostile territory, photo-mapping and gathering intelligence.

Death, insanity, and, again, death. These are hardly surprising themes in books that deal with war and its aftermath. Like Busch and Castner before him, Turner maps the landscape of war, both external and internal, assesses the damage, and meditates on its consequences. Words are his medium.

Brian Turner has already published two critically acclaimed volumes of war poetry, Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise. This time using prose, he continues to try to understand what he did in war, and what it did to him. He also tries to put his army service (seven years) into the larger context of a family with a military tradition, giving us graphic glimpses of a father who flew intelligence-gathering missions during the Cold War, an uncle who fought in Vietnam, a grandfather who fought with the Marines in the South Pacific during WWII, and others, all the way back to the Civil War. Struggling to explain, he says -

"I signed the paper and joined the infantry for reasons I won't tell you, and for reasons I will." And then, after listing possible reasons, he concludes, "I joined the infantry because I knew, even then, that most of what I've just said is total bulls**t, or that it really won't answer a thing."

But regardless of why he joined, Turner still struggles with what he saw and what he did during his tour in and around Mosul, Iraq. Things like manning a turret gun on convoy duty and firing at civilian cars that came too close or tried to force their way into the column. Or setting up a security perimeter around an Iraqi police station.

"This is where sixteen Iraqi policemen stood on the sidewalk in one moment, vanished in the next. A forearm still attached to a hand, a wedding band shining on a finger. Dust. A strange and momentary silence ... There is a mustache, alone, on a sidewalk."

Home on leave, Turner feels ashamed at feeling so relieved to be in America, safe, and thinks himself a coward for such feelings. And after his discharge he travels, to numerous foreign countries, many of them scenes of wars, still looking for answers. Even in bed with his wife, he is plagued by hallucinatory nightmares of the war and its victims.

"My wife and I make love in sheets the color of rare wine. As we kiss and roll over in bed ... a nurse wheels a shallow-breathing veteran into our bedroom - a man with pellets from a shotgun lodged in his brain, the surgeons following behind and standing over his gurney, whispering how they might proceed ... And they wait for us to finish making love ... The surgeons whispering over their critical patients. The dead in their bathtubs. The dead with their mouths given to foam. The dead strung from ropes under cones of light."

Death and insanity - constants of war. In that eerie opening image - dreaming of himself as a drone, Turner says -

"Each night I do this ... I bank and turn, gathering circuit by circuit the necessary intelligence, all that I have done, all that we have done ..."

"All that we have done" indeed. And yet the wars go on and on. Brian Turner's MY LIFE AS A FOREIGN COUNTRY is an important addition to the literature of war, bleakly beautiful and profoundly disturbing. I give it my highest recommendation.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the Cold War memoir, SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Death, Waste, Sorrow, Beauty 11 Nov. 2014
By Janet Brown - Published on Amazon.com
I’ve never been to war, nor have any of my family, after the generation of my father and uncles. The country I live in has never been occupied, other than by a brief stint of Japan in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. I’ve always been grateful for that good fortune, but in an abstract way, until Brian Turner brought war home to me in My Life as a Foreign Country.

Turner calls his book a memoir but it takes that genre into a whole new territory. He is a poet and that burnished and economical use of language is what shapes his narrative. It’s a song, a meditation, a violent introspection, a reporting of stories that are close to unbearable. That’s what this man carries with him; that’s what every combat veteran has as his legacy of battle, and that’s My Life as a Foreign Country brings to us.

The universality of war, through place and time, is made clear through the terse 203-page volume, with stories of generations of soldiers in Turner’s own family, and in Cambodia, England, Bosnia, Antietam, Guam, Saigon, and Iraq. He shows a multitude of people of all ages, who carry a world of war in their heads, a world that is untranslatable to the rest of us who have never been there. Then he uses art as a common language that will blow our comfortable universes wide open.

Tight portraits and essays and fragments of conversations that are frequently obscene, nightmares and dreams of love that is made on clean, domestic sheets, reenactments of acts of war told in the voice of a poet-warrior—Turner reaches back into the realm of classical epics to shape his modern counterpart.

“The soldiers enter the house, the soldiers enter the house.”

And in less than four pages, Turner takes his readers along on that entry, and he changes their lives with maybe as many as a thousand words. Nobody can read that 49th essay and ever look at a veteran or a “war movie,” or a television news clip of an occupied area in the same way ever again.

Standing with Brian Turner and his brigade at Fort Lewis, Washington, listening to a Colonel read the names of “those who did not come back,” realizing he omitted the name of “a young man from New Jersey who wrote poetry and wanted to become a lawyer one day,” who had sat in a Port-O-Let in Mosul and “put six rounds through the top of his skull,” you understand why a soldier in line suddenly “locked up his knees and passed out, instantly pissing his pants.” You see this New Jersey boy’s body with the other dead soldiers, “wind blowing through them, as through a flute.”

"How does anyone leave a war behind them, no matter what war it is, and somehow walk into the rest of his life?" Brian Turner’s reply to his own question echoes through his book, which should be read and reread by all of us who have been sheltered and have never paid the price for that.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
At heart Brian Turner is a poet and this book ... 23 Dec. 2014
By JHill - Published on Amazon.com
At heart Brian Turner is a poet and this book of prose is a confirmation. In the world of literature the term "page turner" is often used. This book is not a page turner. It is an electron microscope into the human condition, especially as it pertains to war. It is an indictment, but it is also a testimony to the often forgotten fact that all of the actors are human beings. Never does the author flinch or allow the reader to rationalized what happens. In one passage the author ferries us down the Tigris with two brothers and their father who are in the act of placing a rocket in the "bull rushes", a rocket that will kill "us" and "them". An hour earlier one of the men rested his head on the belly of his wife listening to their unborn child. In other passages he draws the reader into the "safety" of the camp and the inevitable death and destruction of a mortar attack as well as the horrid intrusions into the homes of Iraqis who may or may not be firing the mortars. Then he takes us back home to the surreal world of the returning warrior with all its pain and complexities. "America, vast and laid out from one ocean to another, is not a large enough space to contain the war each soldier brings home. And even if it could -- it doesn't want to." and the chilling passage which takes us right there and bares it all. "The veteran steps away from the chair and the rope does its work" It is a book of immense importance. In essence this book is a plea for the obliteration of the terms us and them and a prayer that one day there will only be a we.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The unanswerable question about war 10 Dec. 2014
By JET - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully literate account of war, a narrative poem written by an American soldier with the same name as NZ poet Brian Turner.
I heard the American Turner interviewed by Wallace Chapman on Radio NZ's Sunday programme last weekend and Chapman later said the book was the best he'd read in a while.
A sound judgement.
Turner relates his mind-numbing experiences in Iraq to his family's long history of warriordom. It's visceral in its awfulness, a gruelling account of the fear, mindlessness, boredom, brutality and sheer ugliness of war.
The only question left at the end is why do men do this. It's an unanswerable one.
My Life as a Foreign Country - review 11 Jun. 2015
By Davina Gauthier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is as brilliantly written story of a young man who served in the Middle East conflicts; who survived, while friends and comrades did not and gives us a sensitive insight into his life as the child of a serviceman. The prose is almost poetic and he portrays his thoughts, fears and moments he could at least find beautiful in a war torn country. His story jumps back and forth between the past and present, but his story is poignant and heartfelt, and if this is his first book, shows great promise as a future writer. It's not an easy book to read, but well worth the time to read a story by a future prolific writer.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know


Feedback