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Baghdad Express: A Gulf War Memoir by Joel…

Baghdad Express: A Gulf War Memoir

by Joel Turnipseed

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Hard core marines would probably not approve of this book. Because as a marine, Turnipseed is something less than gung-ho. His approach to the military life is much too casual. Of course he's telling only about his tour in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf war, where he was a truck driver/mechanic with a philosophic bent - along with a bent sense of humor and seriously skewed world view. By the time his Motor Transport Battalion out of Minnesota was deployed to the Gulf, Turnipseed had already been in the USMC Reserves for several years. At the time of his activation he was lounging his way through the University of Minnesota, majoring in (what else?) philosophy. His enthusiasm over being reactivated knew bounds, if you know what I mean. But he didn't feel that this particular little war was worth going to Canada for. So he packed one of his seabags full of books and substituted cigarettes for his pipe and was off to Arabia. For a kid who got knocked around and bounced around between divorced parents and uncaring step-parents and grandparents, I have to admire this guy. He straightened himself out. Looking at the kind of marine he is by 1990, it's hard to believe he was a boot camp honor grad, but he says he was. While it's true Turnipseed never saw combat, you gotta understand that MOST of the troops in that short-lived little skirmish never saw combat. It was mostly a kind of remote-controlled war filled with countless hours of boredom broken up by marathon sessions of self-abuse. (Read Swofford's Jarhead.) As a military memoir, this is a very strange animal. This Turnipseed guy, while maybe (at least in some people's minds) a disgrace to the Corps, is a very thoughtful and a very funny guy. I liked this book. ( )
  TimBazzett | Nov 5, 2009 |
Written by someone witty but that has, maybe only had while young, a extremely high concept of himself ... this is the book of a philosopher, by trade and by passion, in the Corps and therefore an outcast. Don't expect much action, but do expect lots of reflections about everything that surrounded this soldier while on long boring watches or long boring drivings. ( )
  emed0s | Jul 2, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142001538, Paperback)

In early summer of 1990, Joel Turnipseed was homeless -- kicked out of his college's philosophy program, dumped by his girlfriend. He had been AWOL from his Marine Corps Reserve unit for more than three months, spending his days hanging out in coffee shops reading Plato and Thoreau. Then Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Turnipseed's unit was activated for service in Operation Desert Shield. By January of '91, he was in Saudi Arabia driving tractor-trailers for the Sixth Motor Transport Battalion -- the legendary 'Baghdad Express'. The greatest logistical operation in Marine Corps history, the Baghdad Express hauled truckloads of explosives and ammunition across hundreds of miles of desert. But on the brink of war, Turnipseed's greatest struggles are still within. Armed with an M-16 and a seabag full of philosophy books, he is a wise-ass misfit, an ironic observer with a keen eye for vivid detail, a rebellious Marine alive to the moral ambiguity of his life and his situation. Developed from Turnipseed's 1997 feature article for GQ Magazine, this innovative memoir -- simultaneously terrifying and hilarious, equal parts Catch-22 and Catcher in the Rye -- explores both the absurdities of war and the necessity of accepting our flawed world of shadows. With expansive humanity and profane grace, Turnipseed finds the real-world answers to his philosophical questions and reaches the hardest peace for any young man to achieve -- with himself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:49 -0400)

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