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Redeployment Hardcover – 27 Mar 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 27 Mar 2014
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (27 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857864238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857864239
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Phil Klay's stories are tightly wound psychological thrillers. The global wars of our last decade weave in and out of these affecting tales about characters who sound and feel like your neighbors. Klay comes to us through Leo Tolstoy, Ray Carver, and Ann Beattie. It's a thrill to read a young writer so brilliantly parsing the complexities and vagaries of war. That he does so with surgical precision and artful zest makes this a must-read (Anthony Swofford, author of JARHEAD)

Redeployment is fiction of a very high order. These are war stories, written with passion and urgency and consummate writerly skill. There's a clarity here that's lacerating in its precision and exhilarating in its effects (Patrick McGrath)

If you want to know the real cost of war for those who do the fighting, read Redeployment. These stories say it all, with an eloquence and rare humanity that will simultaneously break your heart and give you reasons to hope (Ben Fountain)

When the history of these times are finally shaken out, and the shredders have all been turned off, we will turn to writers like Phil Klay to finally understand the true nature of who we were, and where we have been, and where we are still going. He slips himself in under the skin of the war with a muscular language and an agile heart and a fair amount of complicated doubt. Redeployment will be one of the great story collections of recent times. Phil Klay is a writer of our times (Colum McCann)

America's recent military misadventures have produced some searingly brilliant writing of late but Repeployment is so good as to put one in mind of the enduringly excellent; O'Brien, Hemingway, even Crane. Phil Klay turns his mercilessly analytical eye into various unexplored corners of the combat experience; from the crazed non-language of acronym to the distant anguish of the artilleryman to the profound problems of decompression and re-adjustment back into a society which the returning soldier has killed for but which he no longer understands and which cannot understand him. It is stuffed full of the magic and wonder and terror of life. After the first reading I immediately began the second, still hungry for the power of its prose and the reward and fascination of its insights. Truly haunting, and truly, indisputably, brilliant (NIALL GRIFFITHS)

These are gorgeous stories - fierce, intelligent and heartbreaking. Phil Klay, a former Marine, brings us both the news from Iraq and the news from back home. His writing is bold and sure, and full of all sorts of authority - literary, military and just plain human. This is news we need to hear, from a new writer we need to know about (Roxana Robinson, author of SPARTA)

Redeployment is a stunning, upsetting, urgently necessary book about the impact of the Iraq war on both soldiers and civilians. Klay's writing is searing and powerful, unsparing of its characters and its readers, art made from a soldier's fearless commitment to confront those losses that can't be tallied in statistics. "Be honest with me," a college student asks a returning veteran in one story, and Phil Klay's answer is a challenge of its own: these stories demand and deserve our attention (Karen Russell, author of SWAMPLANDIA!)

Phil Klay's writing is humane, honest, robust and rich. It hooks you in and doesn't let you go. His stories are about men trained to a level of brutality that enables them to justify their actions in the most banal of terms: 'We just killed some bad guys.' But these American soldiers themselves end up as victims of the insane logic of the war machine, unable to function in any other context. Klay's unsparing prose reminds us what a disaster the occupation of Iraq has been for all concerned (JAMES ROBERTSON, author of The Testament of Gideon Mack)

To most, the war in Iraq is a finished chapter in history. Not so to the Marines, family members, and State Department employees in Phil Klay's electrifying debut collection, Redeployment. Thanks to these provocative and haunting stories, the war will also become viscerally real to readers. Phil Klay is a powerful new voice and Redeployment stands tall with the best war writing of this decade (SIOBHAN FALLON, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone)

Strikingly good (Financial Times)

In Klay's hands, Iraq comes across not merely as a theatre of war but as a laboratory for the human condition in extremis. Redeployment is hilarious, biting, and sad. It's the best thing written so far on what the war did to people's souls (Scotsman)

Redeployment is the real thing - a vivid and vital battery of war stories that does not rely soley on its subject matter for impact (although, make no mistake, the subject certainly has impact) (Guardian)

Certain to be hailed as a classic (Shortlist)

Brilliant (Sunday Telegraph)

Klay's achievement is to implicate his reader in the desire for war, while reminding us how readily we disown and forget it. Journalism would call this dynamic. But only fiction can do the unsettling work of enacting it (Prospect)

A bracing collection (Time Magazine)

Sharp, intelligent, compelling (Irish Times)

This story is not just a blackly brilliant study of an incompetent bureaucracy where even good actions on the ground make things worse: it also serves as an emotional breather for the reader. Because - unlike the deluded, Rambo-esque contractor - in most of these stories we do hit the ground running, in a hail of bullets, explosions and the terror that comes from Knowing that death perpetually stalks these characters in the form of snipers, suicide bombers and landmines (Sunday Business Post)

[Klay] instinctively plays off the rough soldierly humour against the dark realities it has always been intended to deal with, but he approaches the heavier (read 'predictable') issues at a cautious angle (Literary Review)

Literary fiction from the global war on terror has only recently begun to give these soldiers a voice, and Redeployment is an important addition to the genre. Frequently, however, the best reason to read these taut, sharply observed stories is simply to see how they end (Financial Times)

Klay's short stories pull off something incredibly subtle (Sunday Times)

Book Description

A timeless portrait of the tragedy and folly of war, winner of the National Book Award and shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor Prize.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Redeployment sells itself on the cover as being the real deal. I think that’s a fair enough assessment.

This is a collection of short narratives – some running to a dozen pages or more; others just a page or two. Each tells a story of American involvement in Iraq from a different perspective. Understandably, most are voices from the military, although there is the occasional voice from the civilian involvement.

Phil Klay avoids the temptation to create heroes or play politics. Naturally some of the narratives involve doing heroic things, but these are outweighed by the stories of medics, body collection, office jockeys and logistics. The narratives feel authentic and don’t waste time with background information or explanations. One (mercifully short) story is told almost entirely in indecipherable acronyms.

Despite the variety of narratives and voices, the striking point is that the participants’ motivations are almost always personal, and often venal. There is no hint of creating a stronger community; of ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction; of promoting democracy; or protecting the Kurds. Even when coming under direct fire, the motivation is purely on protecting colleagues, winning medals or impressing girlfriends.

Some of the narrators are more likeable than others; and a couple are completely repellent. But they are never less than totally engaging. Despite the commonality between the narratives, they never feel repetitive; never feel too longwinded; yet always feel complete. The language seems spot on and it can be difficult to believe these are not direct transcripts of interviews given to camera.
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Authentic and very moving. What is it, about War, that it brings out the best and the worst and (still) remains one of the major experiences that bring us face to face with the deepest moral issues? I treasure this collection and have recommended it to many others.
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Format: Paperback
Not my normal cup of tea, but I picked it up to read as it has been short listed for the Warwick Prize for Writing. The cover and blurb suggest this is going to be a succession of tales of suffering infantrymen but it has a far richer cast of protagonists with chaplains, civil servants, pysc-ops specialists, and body clearers also taking centre stage.

For me there are two absolute stand out stories in this collection. “Money as a Weapons System” which is a tale about reconstruction attempts that is the closet the collection gets to comedy, and provides gives an opportunity for almost every faction and function in the conflict to be held up to ridicule. I particularly loved the relatively briefly appearing but long suffering interpreter. “Prayer in the Furnace” by contrast is a tale of the anguished attempts by a military Chaplain to do and say the right thing. The collection is worth reading for those two stories alone.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A dozen often bleak and brutal stories carry an authentic ring based on the author’s first-hand experience as a marine in Iraq. Although it is deliberate in the case of “OIF”, some are too cluttered with military acronyms, either meaningless or distracting if you pause to work them out or look them up. Others which focus on the fighting have nowhere to go after ramming home the way young soldiers are trained as unquestioning killing machines, kept in this state by psychopathic officers, then swear, take drugs and get drunk to blunt their fear, guilt and confusion.

What held me more were the issues raised by the “redeployment” of the title : how these men might deal with the return to “normal” life and communicate with non-combatants.

The brilliant opening story, “Redeployment”, describes with great clarity and insight a young man’s sensations on returning home from a seven month stint in Iraq. Having been trained to function at an “orange” level of alert all the time, he cannot adjust at first to a world of people “who’ve spent their whole lives on white”. He cannot cope with walking down the high street alone, rather than in a line of men, each detailed to scan ahead at a different level: tops of buildings, lower windows or at street level. “You startle ten times checking” for the gun that is no longer there. By the end of the trip, the man is too “amped up” to drive. “I would have gone at a hundred miles an hour.”

In “War Stories”, a young man whose face has been hideously scarred agrees to be interviewed by a chilly young actress “with a splinter of ice in her heart” who wants to use his experiences for a play.
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Format: Paperback
'Redeployment' is a collection of short stories linked by the theme of the second Iraq War. Each story is told in the voice of a different person. The narrators are all male, and are either serving Marines or closely and recently associated with the military. These voices necessarily have a certain uniformity of tone, but the speakers represent different arms and ranks, and over the length of the book the reader is given a fairly wide view. I say fairly wide, because the views of officers are largely unrepresented, as more expectedly are those of women, American civilians and Iraqis. The focus is firmly on the experience of service, and the aftermath of service: the perspective is that of the lower and middle ranks – infantrymen, specialists, NCOs, occasionally a lieutenant – and so of men in their late teens and early twenties. The atmosphere of their virtually all-male environment, with its easy obscenity and pervasive military jargon, will be familiar to anyone who has read fiction written during the last century on the subject of men at war.

The stories are broadly in the confessional mode familiar from journalism, in which the author merely records the other's words, refraining from intrusion and comment. The reader must read between the lines to infer the author's purpose and detect a connecting thread. This is standard writing workshop stuff: show, don't tell. Klay has been open about the amount of research his writing demanded, and the payoff is there, in that the scenarios Klay describes feel both authentically detailed and lived. (In one of the more successful stories, Klay makes use of the military's weakness for jargon by giving us a narrator whose every third or fourth word is an acronym, with no explanation provided.
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