I've read and listened to several books covering someone's (mostly soldiers) experiences in Iraq etc. This one is among the better ones. It does jump around a bit, the narrative lacks an overall structure, but for me that probably mirrors Iraq in general and it worked for me. Rather than fret about how cohesive it was, I just took in the stories/experiences and felt in the end I received a realistic sketch of a country beset by the chaos of war and violence. He is clearly a good reporter, and tells his stories in a manner that I would expect from a reporter...matter of fact but with a heart (though a somewhat jaded one over time). He leaves out the politics and for the most part policy and instead focuses a lot on the his visions of the human toll. From his encounters (4+ years worth), you get perspectives from soldiers, Iraqis. politicians. regular Joe's, and family victims, so I felt it was balanced. What I'll probably recall most is his characterization of what could best be described as pure insanity,
The focus of this story is upon a young couple and their struggles against circumstances and each other. Their union was probably not made in heaven. How they started, their attitudes, how they deal with the challenges of the relationship and their own separate lives are dealt with in a very realistic manner. It's not riveting or exciting, so don't expect it to be. Though its fairly easy to connect to the characters, as they are very well developed. The high point for me is the ability of the author to display emotional depth in the characters. Their responses to most situations are often very nuanced and complicated, as they usually are in real life. The ending will not appeal to all, though it did to me. The reading was well done, well paced. An above average read with good characterization.
This story is simply an accounting of events that when assembled offer a good perspective on the prominent aspects of a recent conflict. The last half hour is a good summary of the total span of the events. Do not go into this story thinking that your going to get something other than a cold hard retelling from several perspectives of how the event took place. The author likely made use of interviews that were already conducted by a War College investigator. In the end it is a first rate accounting, complete with a human perspective of the soldiers. It most certainly was presented in a balanced manner. When the same mistake is repeated, even in a combat situation, there is no way to sugar-coat the reality. But, as it is clearly mentioned, this is part of the essence of combat....chance circumstances and/or the "fog" of war. I find that with war stories, because the subject can be infused with emotional perspectives, many reviewers let this color their reading of the story, and misinterpret the story. This story is clearly as reliable as combat accounting can get. Take it for what it is, and enjoy it. Otherwise......
My difficulty was that I simply did not connect with the primary character, Adam Chase, enough to care about his situation. I appreciated how he was grappling with some of his family issues, but I never really found him overall that interesting. Nor did care too much about his predicament. Could be me. Other characters were drawn with fairly bold lines, not much nuance to any of them. I'm sure that was intentional, almost requisite for this plot to work. But again I failed to connect with any of them. So I did not feel much anticipation regarding the overall resolution of many of their conflicts. The plot was somewhat interesting but not gripping or demanding. The strength of the story was Adam's efforts at dealing with issues involving his mother and father and family. The author handles this very well and demonstrates a clear understanding of human nature and family motivations.
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