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on 6 August 2016
Whilst the action primarily focusses around one day, the intertwining of different events and stories gives for a much greater insight into the life of Billy and the Bravos. The adulation, expectations and ultimately the reality of life in the army is encapsulated in the gripping story.

A fantastic read that you won't want to put down.
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on 4 April 2017
If used in schools this novel could make students ask questions of their teachers which would need the wisdom of Socrates to answer.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 13 June 2016
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found this book tricky. It is well written, the characters, particularly that of Billy Lynn, the protagonist are well drawn and believable. The story line is interesting, and the book is both clever and thought provoking. It has a lot to say about attitudes towards the war and the military and America's involvement in Iraq. It is clearly able to take its place alongside other classics of the war such as Slaughterhouse Five and Catch Twenty Two. Despite all this I couldn't really warm to the book. It is, I am sure, my own fault and nothing to do with the book at all. I just found this very easy to put down and fairly hard to pick up again. Having said that, I persevered to the end, but I can't say it was a total pleasure to read.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 January 2017
Billy Lynn is a grunt. He’s a 19-year-old grunt who is part of Bravo squad. He has been highly decorated by the President for his part in a firefight in Iraq during which a friend was killed in front of him. No doubt this also happened to many of his compatriots but on this occasion the action was captured by an embedded Fox News team. So, Billy and his mates are now national heroes.

Billy and a group of seven others from his squad are therefore on a two-week tour back home to press the flesh around the country. It’s a whistle stop tour of predominantly swing states to meet the rich and powerful and, on occasions, the great unwashed. The majority of the story takes place on the last full day of the tour at a Dallas Cowboys game against the Chicago Bears although we do read about Billy’s brief visit to see his family who live in a small Texas town. The following day they will be packed off again to fight in Iraq.

The story therefore focuses on the events of the day and Billy’s reactions to the people he meets and who want a piece of him and his friends. His thoughts are the most interesting, ranging from not understanding why these over the top people should want to paw and get to touch him to drawing comparisons between their safe lives at home and the dangers he experiences every day in Iraq.

As can be expected the dialogue pulls no punches and is highly representative of the language of squaddies – both colourful and direct. The bonding between the members of the small unit shines through as they struggle against different groups who want to take advantage of their presence for their own ends.

Many comparisons can be made but perhaps the best parallel can be drawn between the way in which the football crowd watches the match on the Jumbotron and the way Americans experience war through their TV screens. Both are involving yet remote.

This is a first-rate satirical novel like few others. Although the parallel will inevitably be drawn with “Catch 22” this is a very different story but still one very much worth reading.

mr zorg

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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VINE VOICEon 24 December 2015
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I find sometimes I'm at odds with some of the well known book review sites and this is one of those times. The story is
based in the USA, Where a group of soldiers are brought back from the war in Iraq, They had an intense Gun battle and distinguished themselves. Their politicians thinking they will make use of these men's efforts to further their own ambitions. Brought them home. The story centre's around one afternoon where they are entertained and celebrated as the nations Hero's. Also at the same time a producer is trying to set up a possible film in the near future. You experience the emotions and disappointments, especially as the soldiers realise that the public don't understand what they went thru. Bill Lynn has an affair with one of the cheer leaders from the Dallas Cowboys and she finds it difficult to understand why they are being sent back.. It displays the differences between the Soldiers on the front line and the general public who only read the headlines.
When I started the book the first thing I was aware of is that the language which is extremely base and crude (which I didn't have a problem with) was very American, It jarred with my perception of a well written story, I also found it very repetitious at times, It should be added that it is full of descriptions of the men, the surroundings and others around them which is informative but seemed to my mind to get in the way of the narrative . We get glimpses of the war, casualties and effects which is still fresh in their minds. Hanging over their heads is the thought that very soon they will be once again on the plane and back in the middle of the war, their time at home will be past news.
It says on the cover that it is witty and full of humour. I found that I was still looking for both by the end of the book. Although it starts off on one level it becomes more complex as you read on.. But, by this time I had partly lost interest. Shame as I'm sure where language and style is more akin to the story line those people will enjoy it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 27 September 2016
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wanted to take the opportunity to read this before Ang Lee's film version is released; I think I made the right choice in doing so.

Ben Fountain's novel about an American army unit on the last day of a “Victory Tour” of the USA in the midst of the second Iraqi war is a funny, moving and intelligently satirical look at America, post-9/11 under the Bush administration. It captures the mood, uncertainty and belligerently ignorant attitudes of public opinion while cleverly exposing the flaws, manipulations and cynicism of the government and society that sent their soldiers into war without a plan. It is definitely a novel to be read with hindsight and has a continuing resonance given the current state of America's social/political scene.
These are the underlying currents of a story line that follows the young soldier's musings as he comes to terms with his experiences – both in war and on the homefront by way of flashback scenes – and the imminent return of the unit to Iraq. An on-going movie deal thread and an unexpected romance provide additional plot twists as the reader follows the Bravo squad's surreal journey from the trauma of combat to the world of celebrity, the powerful and the rich.
I enjoyed Fountain's use of contemporary American language combined with an eloquent turn of narrative phrase, something that – I suspect - cannot be translated to the film version.
There is an additional irony in that a novel that features the negotiation of a film is to become a film itself – I wonder if Fountain considered that possibility when he wrote it.

There have been mentions of “Catch-22” as a comparison; the absurdity is there, together with the satire, but it isn't quite as dark as Heller`s book and it has a quality all of it's own – it doesn't need that reference - this is a fine, engaging literary work that stands on it's own merits.
I'm pleased to have read it, I believe this is set to become a modern classic.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 2 September 2016
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The men of Bravo Company have been awarded an unprecedented amount of medals after being filmed by a journalist during a battle in Iraq. Politicians in the Bush administration are quick to spot an opportunity for a propaganda tour, and the men are flown back to the USA – together with the flag-draped coffin of ‘Shroom’ – to be feted. The book begins on the day before they are to return to duty in Iraq; Billy Lynn and his seven fellow soldiers are at a Thanksgiving match at the Dallas Cowboys stadium against The Chicago Bears. Billy has the mother of all hangovers, and he’s starting to doubt that a producer’s hoped-for movie deal will come off. Most of all, after being paraded around the country at every media opportunity, he’s feeling like everyone wants a bit from him and Bravo company.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I especially liked the main character of Billy, who was more or less forced to enlist at the age of eighteen after a brush with the law. The characters felt real and I cared about them. Billy’s observations about society back home were simple yet profound, and although the novel is very poignant, it’s also quite humorous.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 June 2016
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An utterly enchanting read and possibly a minor classic in future years.

The book is constructed around the experiences of a small squad of US soldiers whose brief moments of heroism and bravery in Iraq were captured on TV, and a wider audience. They were rushed home by the government to parade around America to whip up enthusiasm for the war effort.

The book beautifully captures the feelings, thoughts and emotions of one 19 year old individual. An innocent painfully aware that he is treason water way over his head. His sense of awe as he moves towards a Dallas Cowboys football game and it terrifying choreography will touch every reader. The book also captures the lust and longings engendered in young men by the gorgeous Cowboys cheerleaders (truely beings from another planet).

There is humour and sharp observation in this wonderful book. It is almost impossible not to identify with, and to enter into the thoughts and emotions of, Billy. We are willing him to make it through the day without embarrassment.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 18 January 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The story of `Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' is a sublime mixture of humanity and hilarity. Along with other soldiers of the Bravo squad in Iraq Billy has been hailed as a hero after a fearful firefight which was captured by TV news and is regarded as worthy of being made into a Hollywood movie. The soldiers' role is to bolster support for the Iraq war and they have been sent on a public relations tour of stage managed receptions in America before being returned back to combat duties. Apart from minor reflections and commentaries the time span covered by the narrative is concentrated on their final engagement at an American football game, though within this restricted period author Ben Fountain manages to develop credible characters to support his satirical tale. Billy is somewhat of a reluctant hero and is more capable of contemplation and consideration than other members of the squad apart from the Sergeant. His is a story of courage, hope and optimism set against fear, despair and foreboding to which Ben Fountain skilfully overlays propaganda and manipulation. `Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' is a poignant and powerful indictment on the Bush era and America's attitudes to war.

Interwoven amongst revelations to Billy's background, his family, and his confusion over the future there are thought provoking insights with ample scope for interpreting pros and cons of waging war to support democracy and freedom set against the costs of trauma and death. Also there is scope for humour from the camaraderie, even love, within a group of soldiers similar to bonding between mountaineers in civvie street. There is bad language and the soldiers exhibit rather too much vulgarity but it is justified via self deprecation. Also there is irritating American slang but it serves to highlight the limited intellect of "grunt" soldiers, and it allows a variety of encounters and experiences to be illustrated. Ben Fountain cleverly switches between arrogant, abusive behaviour and mild good manners, and he uses the Bravo squad to comment on American obsessions with big business, political pressures, religious authority, "Hollywood" influences, celebrities etc. as well as the human nature of ordinary citizens and their perspectives on the Iraq war. `Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' provides evocative descriptions of many elements of life in America, particularly with a portrayal of American football as dull and dreary. For British readers the narrative provides a revealing view of America in addition to its main thrust as an exposé on the ethics and morality of war.
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 2 September 2014
I thought this book was really excellent. It is hugely enjoyable and brilliantly written - engrossing, funny and extremely wise and shrewd about its subject and its characters.

The narrative has been well summarized here and elsewhere: briefly, Billy Lynn and his fellow soldiers of Bravo squad were filmed in a heroic firefight in Iraq and the Bush administration is now shipping them around the USA on a highly publicised "Victory Tour" to bolster support for the war. The book is an account of their last day of the tour seen through Billy's eyes and serves as a commentary on contemporary USA and its attitudes. It's a great read: excellently structured, involving and with a cast of brilliantly drawn characters including Billy himself who is a thoroughly engaging protagonist.

Ben Fountain satirises not so much the war itself as things like the hypocrisy, wilful ignorance and exploitation which surround it. He also shares JD Salinger's contempt for the phoney and how it has pervaded modern life. For example, of a rich businessman working a room: "Norm is confident, absolutely, he is the king of self-esteem, but this is the confidence of self-help tapes and motivational mantras, confidence learned as one learns a foreign language, and so the accent lingers in his body language, a faint arthritic creak in every smile and gesture." The book is full of these gems of insight as well as brilliant descriptive phrases like Billy ecstatically holding a beautiful cheerleader in his arms as she "breathes clouds of glory in his face," and I found the description of the half-time extravaganza so vivid as to feel I was there in Billy's shoes.

Some people have suggested that this is the Catch-22 of the Iraq war, but I'm not sure I agree. I think the style is closer to Hunter S. Thompson than to Joseph Heller, and I would describe it more as the Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas of the Iraq War. It stands on its own merits, though and it's a simply brilliant, engaging, thought-provoking read and very, very warmly recommended.
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