Last week I finished up David Finkel’s non-fiction work, The Good Soldiers. The book took me much longer to get through than I anticipated because it absolutely weighed heavy on the heart. Finkel was an embedded reporter with a batallion in Iraq in 2007. This is their story and it is a difficult one but a worthy read.
If there was a mandatory reading list for Americans, The Good Soldiers should be on it. The writing is simple. As a matter of fact, it’s almost too simple. The tragedies and insanities of war are relayed with such a high level of frankness, it’s practically impossible to forget this is a true story. You want to get lost in description and mood but forget it, Finkel doesn’t give you a break. And why should he? It’s something not afforded to his comrades. The 15 months of the 2-16’s deployments are presented to you in a devastating matter-of-fact manner as if Finkel himself is trying to smother his own emotions.
The only betrayal to how Finkel perhaps views the war is the clever strategy of beginning each chapter with an excerpt of whatever speech former President Bush delivered the month he is covering in that chapter. Doing so, he creates a complete disparity between the reality of the 2-16’s experience and the President’s interpretation of the situation in Iraq as presented to the American people.
The story is incredible and reminds the reader there are indeed remarkable people in this world. There are also very damaged individuals roaming among us who served us well and deserve our care and attention.
On a related note: If you read The Good Soldiers, or even if you don’t, and are moved by the service of these VERY young men and women and would like to reach out and help in some way, I cannot recommend AnySoldier enough.The soldiers greatly appreciate letters from home especially notes or drawings from our nation’s children. If you can do a little more, they can always use care packages as we are not equipped to handle supplying them adequately.
Next book on my list which is waiting for me at my local library: Susan Gilman’s Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven