During the troop surge in Iraq in 2007, Washington Post journalist David Finkel was embedded for eight months with Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich - a determined, optimistic, inspired leader - and his unit: the 2-16 Second Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment from Fort Riley, Kansas.
The 2-16 were deployed at the time in an area of intense insurgent activity in eastern Baghdad. Finkel writes, “From the beginning I explained to [the soldiers] that my intent was to document their corner of the war, without agenda. This book, then, is that corner, unshaded.” In fact, much of the book’s success stems from the open access granted to Finkel and the soldiers’ willingness to share their stories.
Finkel casts light on virtually all aspects of the 2-16’s “corner of the war”, including unflinching descriptions of deaths, and the profoundly destructive injuries inflicted by improvised explosive devices. Finkel’s descriptions are deeply moving and in many cases profoundly disturbing. But this is war, this is what the soldiers experienced, and Finkel aims to document the sacrifices these soldiers made that enabled the surge to succeed.
The Good Soldiers, besides being a valuable and unforgettable document, honors the men of the 2-16 Second Battalion. Written as a nonfiction novel, its prose style is simple and brilliantly effective.
Relatively new to audiobook narration, actor Mark Boyett has a strong, young voice whose articulation, pace, and clarity will resonate inside a car, a hall, or your head. He easily and naturally shifts his voice from the narrator’s point of view to the words of the many people chronicled in this book. A great range of emotions is expressed in The Good Soldiers, and Boyett adeptly inhabits these characters as he gives voice to the words they express. –David Chasey
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.
©2009 Dave Finkel; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Finkel's keen firsthand reportage, its grit and impact only heightened by the literary polish of his prose, gives us one of the best accounts yet of the American experience in Iraq." (Publishers Weekly)
"A superb account of the burdens soldiers bear." (Kirkus Reviews)
What a horrendous loss of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by so many American men and women following the political and military incursion into Iraq. And, as Finkle often pointed out, was it worth the cost? We are led to experience the the war from Finkle's embeded perspective of the 216th Batallion headed by Lt. Col Ralph Kauzlarich. This is his strength and weakness: being "embedded," and in only one corner of the war.
His ability to convey the "Pucker" factor of war, and the unique pucker factor of the Iraq war regarding IEDs and EFPs is one of his greatest contributions. The related revelation from this book is how IEDs and EFPs just come out of nowhere, uncontrolled, leaving limited ability to plan or strategize in order to avoid the violence. Previous wars pitted intelligence and strategy against enemy violence and gave the impression of being able to minimize violence. That feeling of control appears to be completely translated into sheer dread and fear while riding around in humvee's and having no control of when death from IED violence may strike. It even appears that this phenomenon affects the political as well as military levels of uncertainty of how to measure the value of the war itself.
The limits of this embedded reporter Finkle is reflected in his ingratiating portrayal of the unit's leader, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich as well as his use of George W. Bush quotes. The character of Lt. Kauzlarich is seriously called into question in that he said (see ESPN) that the family of Pat Tillman was not at peace with his death because they are atheists who believe their son is now, in Kauzlarich's words, "worm dirt."
I think that the "Good Soldiers" as represented by Finkle certainly applies to the men on the front lines, but seems to apply less and less as one goes up the ranks.
I liked the book for its real storyline but thought it to be too sad for my liking.
There is alot of feeling and not enough action for me.
Great writing, compelling story, and superb narration equal one great audio experience. i can understand why this book won the Pulitzer. Any young man thinking of going to war should read this to make an informed decision.
Powerful story of the soldiers with very limited politics. No completely blatant Bush bashing but there is a twinge of a liberal swing. But forget that because it is barely noticeable and the stories of the soldiers involved is very powerful.
This is a well written and interesting book. I enjoyed it and would recommend it. I might read it again .
Just a great book on Iraq and the frustration and craziness of the American commitment there. An excellent description of the Loss and Toll taken on our soldiers. Listen To IT!
An excellent book on America's twenty first century Vietnam. The reader is excellent as well. Every American needs to read/listen to this book so we can all understand just what we are asking of our young men when we put them in harm's way.
If you want an accurate picture of what the troops are facing day in and day out in Iraq, this is the book for you. The narration is good, the tempo, apart from the last few chapters, is quick, and the prose is fluid and crisp. This gives you a gritty no-nonsense look at the "real" war, from the perspective of a battalion commander and his troops. Not for the faint of heart.
Can't get over the ranting about one persons perspective. The soldiers I know had a very different experience. Sorry I just could not get over the constant pounding and interjecting of politics in this book. Rather than state a fact or opinion and leave it at that the author continues to beat you over the head with it as though I did not hear or understand it the first time.
Now I know what a five star rating really is. Before this I gave some 5 ratings. Doubt I will ever give another. This book will let you feel the fear of war. If hou have anything but ice water in your veins it will, you will fall in love with our servicemen and their families and not only those with wounds showing. And most of all it will define your cowardice. You will probably want to go to BAMC or Walter Reed to put your arms around our men and women to show your love, but fnd you, like me, don't have the courage.
At the end you will forget about the idiots that garner all the press, our politicians, and have new members in you mental family of those caught in between who had no ability to make decisions but to follow orders. As a past soldier who sever during Vietnam, but not in that theater, only now do I understand war. I am not sure I like what I found via this book. The reality for there men and women sucked. The reality of my cowardice while living less than 100 miles from BAMC is something I must overcome. We must go put our arms around our warriors and the families or those who came back whole, came back wounded or didn't. Come back.
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