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The Good Soldiers Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848874448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848874442
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.3 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'[A] ferociously reported, darkly humorous and spellbinding book - You will be able to take this book down from the shelf years from now and say: This is what happened. This is what it felt like.' Doug Stanton, New York Times 'Brilliant, heartbreaking, deeply true. The Good Soldiers offers the most intimate view of life and death in a twenty-first-century combat unit I have ever read. Unsparing, unflinching, and, at times, unbearable.' Rick Atkinson, author of In the Company of Soldiers 'Heart-stopping... harrowing - immediate and visceral.' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times 'Unsparing - This wrenching account brings alive not only the horror of roadside bombs and mortar blasts, but the oft ignored aftermath of grief and suffering' Michael Kenney, Boston Globe 'The finest book yet written on the platoon-level combat of the Iraq war... Unforgettable.' Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars 'The best account I have read of the life of one unit in the Iraq war. It is closely observed, carefully recorded and beautifully written. David Finkel doesn't just take you into the lives of our soldiers, he takes you deep into their nightmares.' Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble

About the Author

David Finkel is a staff writer for the Washington Post and also the leader of the Post's National enterprise reporting team. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, and throughout the United States, and was part of the Post's war coverage in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo. He won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 for a series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. A 1977 graduate of the University of Florida, Finkel lives in Maryland with his wife and two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. Duducu on 18 May 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many excellent history books bring the immediacy of a situation to the forefront by adding a first hand account. This entire book is a first hand account with the added advantage of being extremely well written by a journalist rather than heartfelt but potentially not as eloquent as if had been written by a soldier.

The books tells the story of the 2007 tour of 2-16 a US Army brigade in Iraq. The stories themselves you have seen on TV, films or read before- IEDs rip apart young men, the leaders good intentions decline as the death toll mounts, The invisible threat of snipers, the gross generalisations of the politicians- it's all here.

What turns this from an also ran to a must read is everything is described in such vivid detail using various writing techniques (such as repetition) to make you see the bloodied wounded pleading to be saved, or the grinding down of young men into virtual zombies. There are moments of levity too so as to not make the entire read unbearable, with some moments bordering on farce.

David Finkel sometimes takes you out of Iraq to see the war protests, or the Washington machine assessing the war or, most touchingly, wounded soldiers slowly recovering with their loved ones looking on with great sadness. I'm not embarrassed to say I shed a few tears reading some those sections.

Powerful, eloquent and thought provoking this is an essential read for everyone and anyone interested in the highly complex topic simply called war.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Auld-Yin on 27 April 2011
Format: Paperback
I have to disagree with some of the reviews written here. I found the book to be patronising and the author seemed to spend the whole of his time trying to find the negatives in any situation. He also seems to have spent the majority of his time attached to the CO's webbing with the occasional mention of the troops involved.

Now, getting to the soldiers involved. In each case he only goes to the soldiers' story if it shows the worst of what was happening to the Battalion. Even when they have a good result during an operation Finkel always can find the negative side to bring down the importance of what they were actually doing.

Finkel describes how this Battalion was brought together purely for operations in Iraq and mentiones that some of the soldiers should never have been there due to varying personality issues and also delinquency issues. He does this early in the book, setting the standards that he expected from the Battalion. A big mistake in my view. Also Finkel must have been attached to the most humnourless infantry Battalion that the US could find. I personally don't believe this. There is nothing in the book about the humour that fighting men find in virtually any situation - everything is negative, hence the negative review I have to give.

I feel that Finkel has done this Battalion and its officers no service at all and also feel that the Battalion did not live up to his uninformed standards therefore only the bad side can be shown. A good example of this is the nominal roll of the battalion at the end of the book. It has asterisks against those who received the Purple Heart - there is absolutely no mention against names of those soldiers who picked up bravery awards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike Mac on 19 Feb. 2011
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David Finkel has created a definitive, first-hand account of 'the poor, bloody infantry' at war. Anyone who has been there will recognise the hard truths at the heart of this narrative - the hours of crushing boredom punctuated by brief periods of gut-wrenching action, where all there is to fall back on is your training, and the knowledge that your mates are with you all the way. Finkel's sometimes terse, journalistic prose fits well with the harsh realities of the lives of the very real people who are at the centre of all of this. The contrasts between the real,war zone experience and the remote, subjective impressions of the politicians and of the public in general is also made clear. For those not directly involved. the reality only seems to truly come home when Finkel describes the interplay between wounded survivors and their families. This is no 'gung ho' account with John Wayne/Audie Murphy type characters, despite the fact that the unit involved is an elite one - the Rangers. There are heroes, nevertheless - but these are real people, with all the doubts and fears that assail any soldier faced with the carnage that they experience. What makes them 'good soldiers' is the fact that despite all this, they still continue to function as a unit - sometimes only just... This is a tale that needed to be told, and is relevant to any war zone at any time. Read it and weep... Brilliant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rainman on 2 Sept. 2010
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An excellent account of an infantry units' time in Iraq, no bravado, politics or historical analysis, just the day to day brutality of life patrolling the streets of Iraq. Horrific and saddening, and doesn't end in the combat zone, prepare for the uncomfortable realities of injuries sustained in battle and the long term recovery from them.
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