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The Good Soldiers by David Finkel

The Good Soldiers (2009)

by David Finkel

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7312819,749 (4.22)30

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A grueling, depressing book about the 2007 “surge” in Iraq from the perspective of a group of American soldiers. Finkel is at his most harrowing when describing the physical wounds inflicted by modern combat, though the psychic damage also comes through as well. They’re very good soldiers, but there is a hollowness at the core of the fight, and that matters—to them and to us. ( )
  rivkat | Aug 30, 2018 |
I cannot think of a book that has delivered more powerful prose. "An EFP exploding from a trash pile is nothing like an EFP exploding from a water buffalo carcass." That's an example of the more mundane, matter-of-fact narrative. Powerful narrative comes like storm waves throughout the book. It certainly has its share of Rambo-like scenarios, but it is not a "shoot 'em up" war story, but an extremely personal accounting of a single U.S. Army platoon during the "surge" in Iraq. And a word of warning to those with a particular sensitivity to profanity...this book has its share, but if the profanity is what disturbs you most about this book, I suggest you go back to the store and buy yourself a new soul. ( )
  larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
If you care about anyone who puts their lives, not only on hold, but, on the line in defense of this nation and her people, continue reading. The book, The Good Soldiers written by David Finkel, a staff writer for The Washington Post, is a gritty, in your face look at current warfare.

In the book Finkel follows the 2-16 IN BN, from Ft. Riley, Kansas through their deployment to Iraq, where, instead of escorting convoys and securing roads in the western part of the country, they become part of The Surge to increase security in Baghdad. The view is very direct and forward. There is no sugar coating to be had, just ass deep in the shit, not only, with the troops on the ground but, also the aftermath of IEDs and EFPs sent home to the families.

You get a first hand look at not just the external face of war, but the internal face as well. While the external face is gritty and sometimes gory to the point of destroying the prospective of the bigger picture; the internal face is raw and tormenting, struggling in a life and death battle that pits compassion against sheer existence. Finkel does a copious accounting of warfare on the people right in the middle of the blast crater. The journey that starts with honor and motivation ends with acceptance and resignation, yet hope while metamorphosed manages to survive in some corners.

While, this read is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, if you can handle it, it should be a must read for ALL Americans. ( )
  CassiMerten | Mar 22, 2018 |
This is the first book since The Things They Carried that made war uncomfortably--palpably & emotionally--present for me. Not having personal experience of war, I cannot judge if this is an accurate portrayal. What I can say is that the vision of young men in combat that Finkel offers is powerfully evocative, complex & devastating. ( )
  reganrule | Oct 24, 2017 |
Audiobook. Follow a battalion(?) for 15 months in Iraq. Sent as part of the surge. Very compelling book. Follows individual characters. Based on conversations and individual voices. Woven together into a compelling story. I recommend this book.
  idiotgirl | Dec 26, 2015 |
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What is the responsibility of a writer? To describe events, or explain them? I, for one, am not sure. But one wonders if after six years, another vérité, day-by-day portrait of war is sufficient.
We pick up with the action in Iraq after approximately 3,000 soldiers have been killed and some 25,000 wounded. The numbers are a backdrop to Finkel’s real drama, which by the book’s end rises to fever pitch. Had they made a difference, the men of the 2-16 begin to wonder. Were they still “good soldiers”?

Answering that question is the fascinating core of this ferociously reported, darkly humorous and spellbinding book. As Finkel describes it, the men of the 2-16 struggled to be decent in a terrifying environment.
It is Mr. Finkel’s accomplishment in this harrowing book that he not only depicts what the Iraq war is like for the soldiers of the 2-16 — 14 of whom die — but also the incalculable ways in which the war bends (or in some cases warps) the remaining arc of their lives.
Though I can't help wishing Finkel had probed into the origins and nature of this particular conflict (why exactly are we fighting? who exactly are those bad guys planting bombs to drive us from their country?), his book is a necessary and powerful reminder that wars are declared by politicians far from the killing fields; the idealistic soldiers and innocent civilians are the ones, on the ground, suffering and dying.
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His soldiers weren't yet calling him the Lost Kauz behind his back, not when this began.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374165734, Hardcover)

Book Description It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. He called it "the surge." "Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences," he told a skeptical nation. Among those listening were the young, optimistic army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, the battalion nicknamed the Rangers. About to head to a vicious area of Baghdad, they decided the difference would be them.

Fifteen months later, the soldiers returned home forever changed. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Finkel was with them in Bagdad almost every grueling step of the way.

What was the true story of the surge? Was it really a success? Those are the questions he grapples with in his remarkable report from the front lines. Combining the action of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down with the literary brio of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, The Good Soldiers is an unforgettable work of reportage. And in telling the story of these good soldiers, the heroes and the ruined, David Finkel has also produced an eternal tale--not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.

Faces of the Surge
Beneath every policy decision made in the highest echelons of Washington about how a war should be fought are soldiers who live with those decisions every day. These are some of the faces of the U.S. strategy known as "the surge," as photographed by David Finkel, author of The Good Soldiers.

Soldiers of the 2-16 Rangers wait
for permission to enter a mosque.

Two soldiers try to collect themselves after
their Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb.

Sergeant Adam Schumann, regarded as
one of the battalion's best soldiers on the
day he was sent home with severe post
-traumatic stress disorder.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the tradition of "Black Hawk Down," The Good Soldiers takes an unforgettable look at the heroes and the ruined soldiers fighting in the Iraq War.

» see all 5 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921640065, 1921844469

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