So…. maybe my book recommendations aren’t enough to prompt you to run out and grab a book, but what about the president’s recommendations?
First I am going to step right out and say that I am recommending all of you pick up a copy of Redeployment by former marine Phil Klay. It’s an amazing book that covers a dozen first person stories of american soldiers, I read it a few weeks ago and it blew my mind. It was recently named a national book award winner, but in case that isn’t enough for you it was also just recommended by President Obama!
In a recent CNN interview President Obama was asked what book he had read in the past few months that he would like to recommend and he went on to talk about this book. He went on to talk about a lot of political issues he thinks the book touches on and you can read about those in the article, but since this is a book blog and not a political blog, I am just going to put some more info about the book below for you to decide whether or not it’s right for you.
Phil Klay’s Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.
In “Redeployment”, a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people “who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died.” In “After Action Report”, a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn’t commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains—of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic “Money as a Weapons System”, a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier’s daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier’s homecoming.