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The Blog of War: Front-Line Dispatches from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan [Paperback]

Matthew Currier Burden

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Book Description

1 Sep 2006
Matthew Currier Burden founded www.blackfive.net, one of the most popular military blogs on the Internet. His blog began as an homage to a friend killed on duty in Iraq and quickly became a source of information about what was really happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. In The Blog of War Burden presents selections from some of the best of the military blogs, the purest account of the many voices of this war. This is the first real-time history of a war, a history written even as the war continues. It offers a glimpse into the full range of military experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, from the decision to enlist right through to homecoming. There are powerful stories of soldiers in combat, touching reflections on helping local victims of terror and war, pulse-racing accounts of med-evac units and hospitals, and heartbreaking chronicles of spouses who must cope when a loved one has paid the ultimate price. The Blog of War provides an uncensored, intimate, and authentic version of life in the war zone. Dozens of voices come together in a wartime choir that conveys better than any second-hand account possibly can what it is like to serve on the front lines.

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About the Author

Matthew Currier Burden ("Blackfive") enlisted in the military at age seventeen. He served first as an Army aircraft crew chief, then a paratrooper, before joining Special Operations. After receiving a commission as a cavalry officer and serving in Europe and Asia, he later became an intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He left the military in July 2001 as a major in the U. S. Army Reserve. He is now an IT executive in Chicago. Visit Matt Burden at www.blackfive.net.

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
93 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally - The Soldiers' Voices Speak 25 Aug 2006
By Kaleb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As Matt says in the introduction "military blogs were ideal for filling in the gaps that both the media and the military left out."

My blog is one of those Matt excerpted for his book...but it wasn't until I read The Blog of War in its published form that I understood how powerful and eye-opening it is to bring so many voices together in one book.

This book brings into a single volume the straightforward, heartfelt expressions of Soldiers, their families and friends as expressed in military blogs during the unique period of time before the military clamped down on such dispatches from the warzone.

What this book accomplishes is also unique: it allows the reader direct access to the men and women with a personal stake in Afghanistan and Iraq, allowing the Soldiers and their closest confidants to represent themselves. These are the voices of those directly and heavily invested in the war - the messages are intensly candid and personal. And they are their own, unfiltered by wire services, media or the Pentagon.

The book excerpts numerous blogs to bring the reader a broad sampling of circumstance, perspective and voice in a single volume. The act of reading this book will immerse the reader into the often mystifying culture of the men and women of the United States Military. Not the Generals, but the Lieutenants, the Sergeants, their wives and husbands.

If you know a Military man or woman who has served, you will appreciate the opportunity this book brings to become more familiar with the circumstances and situations they faced.

If you've ever wondered how or why some men and women voluntarily sign up to put themselves in those circumstances and situations, you will likely find your answer here.
76 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest voices 28 Aug 2006
By SarahGrok - Published on Amazon.com
What I like most about this book is that the contributors (and yes, I too am one) wrote their segments months or years before this book was dreamed up. None of us knew our words would be immortalized; they were just our bare-soul thoughts at the time. Most of the accounts were written the day the "event" happened, so what you read is the freshest and rawest emotions. This was a book a few years in the making, but each contribution feels spontaneous and true.
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST Read 3 Sep 2006
By T. Banks - Published on Amazon.com
Be prepared to laugh, cry, and be amazingly moved while reading this book. The bloggers do a fantastic job of telling the tales of war - on both fronts. Seeing the action through the eyes of the men and women there will change your life. Feeling the panic, fear, pride and joy on the homefront will move you in ways you never imagined.

Burden does a fabulous job of pulling together the posts and his segues are wonderful introductions and glimpses into who these amazing men and women are.

Reality TV? Who needs it. Read the book. You won't regret it.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars REAL war stories, written from the first person perspective. 7 Sep 2006
By Scott Koenig - Published on Amazon.com
I want to thank Matt for putting this book together. I know how much work went in to it, as we corresponded several times while he was writing it. He even managed to shoehorn a couple of my blog posts into the finished product.

It would be negligent of me, as one of the original "Live from the Sandbox" milbloggers, not to directly address CPT Kevin O'Meara's assertion that we can't be trusted because we are "under constant censorship by the US Government." While it's true that active duty military members have certain restrictions on the information they can disclose, I am pleased to report that after maintaining a military blog for almost four years I have never - not once - been instructed by anyone to remove or edit a single entry in my blog.

When I first blogged as "L.T. SMASH" in December of 2002, the technology was so new that there were no military regulations specifically addressing weblogs. We are always bound, of course, by military regulations concerning sensitive and classified information, as well as prohibitions against "contemptuous speech" towards our superiors. But I knew, as a milblogging pioneer, that I would be setting the standard for those who would follow in my footsteps.

Without any guidance from above, I did what any good officer would: I came up with my own set of rules, a little bit more stringent than those already in place for other forms of communication. Over time, I distilled these rules down to what I call the Golden Rule of MilBlogging:

*** Write every post as if you expect it to be read by the enemy, your commanding officer, and your mother. ***

Following this simple rule allowed me to convey to the people back home how it felt to be living and working in the Sandbox without endangering my men, running afoul of my command, or embarrassing my family. So to be fair to Kevin, you could say that I WAS censored, by myself.

I was under no obligation, during my 2003 deployment, to report the existence of my weblog to my chain-of-command. Nevertheless, it's impossible to keep such a thing secret for long. Eventually, somebody discovered that I was an anonymous milblogger, and passed the information on to my commanding officer.

The Golden Rule of Milblogging, it turns out, saved my hide. My C.O. reported the existence of my milblog to higher authority, and was directed to read every entry in my blog for possible security violations. He never mentioned it to me until several months after we returned home safely. When he finally told me about it - the day of his change-of-command ceremony - he gave me one of the highest compliments I've ever received.

"You're a very good writer," he told me. "Your concern for your sailors comes through in your blog. You should consider putting it together in a book."

Well, now some of my entries have been compiled as part of "The Blog of War." Not as many as I would have liked, but there are so many compelling stories out there, and I was just another Navy guy "in the rear with the gear."

But all of this misses the larger point. Milblogging isn't about politics. Milblogging is about story-telling, it's about trying to convey, to those who have never experienced it, the feeling of going to war.

So why doesn't Kevin want our stories told?
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for those seeking first-hand accounts of the war! 7 Sep 2006
By Dbie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just got my copy of "The Blog of War", a compilation of favorite milblog posts over the past few years, lovingly put together by Matty O'Blackfive. They are, in a word... mesmerizing.

I remember the first time I read many of these posts, and how emotional I was at the time. It's no less emotional now, and in some cases more emotional because of recent events that relate to the original posts.

I love the way Matt laid out the book, with bits of commentary about the authors and their situations, the follow-up stories to let us know what many of the authors are doing now, the mil-lingo glossary, and the detailed index. You did an AWESOME job narrowing down the posts and putting the book together, Matt. Thank you SO much for doing this.

Go buy the book, and a box of Puffs. The soft kind, but not with lotion because when you want to wipe the tears off of your glasses, they leave a slimy film on the lenses.

(oh... and anyone who thinks these posts were edited or sensored... you really don't know much about the authors, do you? Yes, milbloggers in theater are closely watched, but I would fall short of saying they are sensored like the Army used to do with letters home.)
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