on 28 June 2013
Neither inflating nor decrying the sacrifice of soldiers, this book moves beyond the simple reporting of one man's experiences of active service and its aftermath into an exploration of how experiencing extreme situations can leave anyone struggling to live a normal life.
The narrative is based on Bryan Wood's combat experience in Afghanistan and return to civilian life. However - while there are tales of fire fights, tense stand-offs, and US policies - this is neither a war story nor a history; the greatest part of the action takes place in Wood's head.
The book is written in two styles: a series of diary entries set in Afghanistan during a few months of 2003, and a more traditional memoir describing Wood's return to the USA and attempts to find a place after his discharge.
Both sections are written in a clipped prose part way between history and fiction which gives both the feel of military thought and helps the reader share Wood's feelings of separation and powerlessness. There are definite and well handled differences between the sections though: the diary is presented as a single linear document without commentary, whereas the rest of the book hints at events to come or returns to events past; this very neatly creates an impression that the events in Afghanistan are merely examples of issues both Wood and others faced, whereas the events following his return are at their core one deeply personal issue.
Although a strong thread of dislike at how civilians simplify active service, whether as a righteous crusade or an unnecessary action, is present Wood is equally honest about his own inappropriate attitudes: his disdain for those who talk without experience exposes the pretentious but also drives away those who seek to help.
Whatever your view on the morality of the US presence in Afghanistan or war in general this book raises questions about how we deal with disagreement, and how often our issue comes not from a flaw in the people on the other side of the perimeter or the office, but from grabbing and holding close the power we can for fear that the alternative is worse.
I found this book thought-provoking. I recommend it to anyone seeking a better understanding of the human cost of bearing arms for a modern society.
I received a free copy of this book.
on 6 April 2013
Right from the time I started reading the book, I was moved by the author's attempt to be honest with himself, his feelings and his views about the war in Afghanistan.
This is a story, I will read again, many times, to "relive" the metamorphosis of the man from a rookie soldier to a veteran detective. Too often do we have arm-chair strategists who moan about the futility of the Afghan war. This soldier's story makes us see the other side of a "futile" war. There are parts of this story which leave me perplexed.
There are so many points in this story that make you pause.
The way the soldier's actions are curbed from doing the right thing going against their instinct.
The way the injured veterans are treated when they are sent back home for "treatment".
The issues faced by a soldier, when he is trying to slip back into his life.
Personally, I wish I had a chance to meet this man and shake his hand, for he comes across as a honest humane man - a man with faults (and he is honest here about himself) and not afraid to face it.
on 6 May 2014
Wood takes the reader in to the heart of Afghanistan. He enters the war as one man and then returns home to America as another. It is a powerful story about the effects of war and PTSD.
He struggles to readjust to life in America after his tour.
Taken from his journals, Wood recounts his experiences on patrol and what he saw. He is so earnest in this telling, he will bring tears to your eyes.
It is a heart-rending experience.
In his own words: “The way I saw the world was gone, and I saw things, almost everything, in an entirely different way. It was now time to face this fact, and I needed to adjust to life in an entirely new reality.”
on 12 March 2013
We see second hand on the TV and in the newspapers what our soldiers are trying to do but we don't see the affect these wars have on them personally. This book describes the plight of any American soldier who saw and lived what the war in Afghanistan does to them involved. A real heart wrenching,interesting, inspirational true story.