War is hell...but sometimes it's also funny as hell.>Combat and Other Shenanigans is Lieutenant Piers Platt's firsthand account of his year as a cavalry platoon leader in Iraq. Wry, action-packed, and poignant, Combat and Other Shenanigans is the absurd-but-true story of the antics the world's finest soldiers get up to when no one high-ranking is watching.
©2014 Piers Platt (P)2014 Piers Platt
Combat and Other Shenanigans by Piers Platt
This is a memoir of an American lieutenant in a cavalry unit, covering his year in Iraq in 2004. It's available in paperback, ebook, and audio book editions. I bought the audio book and Kindle versions, and switched between them. The audio book narration is very good.
The author states at the start that he has been asked what it was like to serve in Iraq. He eventually wrote the book as a way of answering these questions. Platt initially deployed to Iraq in charge of an M1 tank platoon, and was subsequently moved to an M3 Bradley platoon.
The book has plenty of anecdotes as well as descriptions of combat. For anyone interested in armoured warfare, it's a good source of odd little details, such as why towing a tank with a thrown track will cause the wheels to catch fire. It's written in an easy to read style, with plenty of humour.
Early on in the book the author, Platt, mentioned that people would often ask him "what it was like in Iraq?" and giving answers was often difficult. He hoped this book would provide a better answer and a better idea of what it was like. Does it reach this difficult goal? Yes and no. Mostly yes.
Platt gives a wonderful, detailed explanation of what he and his platoon did over in Iraq, Through this you get an understanding of what it was like and what he and his fellow US Army guys went through. He shows the excitement when things go well, the anxiety when things do not. The boredom when not much is going on. The pride of having helped with and been involved in ensuring the democratic election in Iraq.
Platt doesn't delve into the politics of the war, which is good - that's not what this book is for, but gives a straight up account of "the man on the ground'. Only in his quick reflections post-war is the politics slightly mentioned and even then it seems a mix of pride for what he was involved in and confusion/annoyance at the US having been involved at all.
The book is humourous at times. It reminded me in places of Catch-22 in terms of the absurdity (order spare parts but moving base all the time thus you part are always one base behind you) although, thankfully, not quite so insane. There is a disconnect between the 'ideal' as expected by the military superiors at base and the reality of those on the ground. It is not just with the military this disconnect exists, but with the military it is so much scarier as it is a high risk environment.
The narrator, Snow, does a good job of conveying the various emotions and humour. A solid performance.
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