Friday, October 22, 2010
The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel.
The Good Soldiers follows the 2nd Battalion 16th Infantry Unit from Fort Riley, Kansas, to a fifteen month tour of duty in Rustamiyah, Bagdad. This is not a book that will explain the politics or ideology of the Iraqi war. This is a book about what it’s like to experience war. It follows the soldiers, the commanding officer, the translators, and the families at home who have to deal with the aftermath of severe physical and psychological injuries. The Good Soldiers pulls no punches.
There’s nothing I can write that will do this book justice. It is pitch perfect.
I read this book in a day, and since then I’ve reread it several times. It’s a powerful book, and difficult, for those of us with the luxury, to stop thinking about.
There are the expected moments of tragedy, but sometimes they are in unexpected places. Lieutenant Colonel Kauzlarich is portrayed as an idealist in the best sense of the word – a good man who tries to do a good job. He believes the surge will work. He brings soccer balls to hand out to the local kids. And, after his convey is hit by an explosive device:
“All right. We’re going to stay focussed. We’re in a war,” Kauzlarich said, but he was shaken, too, and now, as the convoy limped away from Kamaliyah through a maze of dirt trails and more trash mounds, everything was anger, everything was fucking, everything was fuck.
The fucking dirt,
The fucking wind.
The fucking stink.
They passed a fucking water buffalo.
They passed a fucking goat.
They passed a fucking man on a fucking bicycle and didn’t give a fuck when he began coughing from the fucking dust.
This fucking country.
They neared a child who stood by herself waving. She had filthy hair and a filthy face and was wearing a filthy red dress, the only bit of color visible at the moment in this entire place, and as she kept waving at the convoy, and now at Kauzlarich himself, he had a decision to make.
He stared out his window.
He raised his hand slowly.
He waved at the fucking child.
Buy The Good Soldiers here: Amazon