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The Good Soldiers | [David Finkel]

The Good Soldiers

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

©2009 Dave Finkel; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • 100 Notable Books of 2009 (The New York Times)
  • Best Books of 2009 (Publishers Weekly)
  • Best Nonfiction of 2009 (The Boston Globe)
  • Best Reads of 2009 (Slate.com)
  • Best Books of 2009: Nonfiction (Christian Science Monitor)
  • "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 Members Say

    Average Customer Rating

    4.1 (392 )
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    4.1 (154 )
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    Story
    4.2 (154 )
    5 star
     (69)
    4 star
     (54)
    3 star
     (23)
    2 star
     (5)
    1 star
     (3)
    Performance
    Sort by:
    •  
      James Tacoma, WA, United States 05-27-11
      James Tacoma, WA, United States 05-27-11 Member Since 2010
      HELPFUL VOTES
      134
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      "Tillman story continues….if you are interested!"

      The story will focus around an infantry unit commanded by Ralph Kauzlarich during the “surge” (2007-2008)…who by the way, was the Ranger Regimental XO for Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. Kauzlarich conducted the second investigation into Tillman’s death. I have no respect for our government using Tillman’s death as advertising…but I couldn’t help but feel poetic justice as Kauzlarich faced the real impact of command…the wounded, the dead, the stress. The book is a “not so pretty look” at the war in Iraq…I commend Finkel on his work, and the time he spent…slow at times, I still must put into the MUST read category!

      0 of 0 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Tina Leoni Costa Elk Grove, CA, US 05-17-11
      Tina Leoni Costa Elk Grove, CA, US 05-17-11 Member Since 2009
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Sad, Intruiging, inspiring...."

      This should be required high school reading. A great first hand account of the war experiences in Iraq just a few short years ago. Highly recommmend.

      0 of 0 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Chute53 BELLA VISTA, ARKANSAS, United States 04-06-11
      Chute53 BELLA VISTA, ARKANSAS, United States 04-06-11

      I listen while doing those tasks when I don't need to be mentally engaged all the time. If I miss something I listen all over again.

      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Ok but"

      Thought their story was interesting, but seemed overly focussed on the futility of one small segment of the war, and the self-centered commander of that one spot. Seemed like the author tried to stear the readers opinion on what to think about the war..

      1 of 2 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Roger San Antonio, TX, United States 01-14-11
      Roger San Antonio, TX, United States 01-14-11
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      "Poorly read, too repetitive"

      The characters were great you got love our servicemen, but compared to a lot of other books being written about Iraq/Afgan it does not have the same smooth flow, too choppy for me. A journalist writing about war always has a bias and it seems to bleed through with this one. If your looking for a journalist on Iraq/Afgan war "Generation Kill" is much better.

      1 of 2 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Tom Bertram, TX, United States 12-12-10
      Tom Bertram, TX, United States 12-12-10 Member Since 2003
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      "defines the five star rating"

      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.

      2 of 4 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Sarah Cincinnati, OH, USA 10-29-09
      Sarah Cincinnati, OH, USA 10-29-09
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Too Much Repetition"

      I believe the author thinks he is being creative by repeating parts of previous sentences for several sentences in a row. I believe the author thinks this because he uses this "style" so frequently in the book, that I had to stop listening to it. So, while I believe the author thinks this repetition adds to the book, in fact, it detracts from the story in a major way. I felt like, I heard the words the first time buddy, no need to repeat them again and again.

      9 of 19 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Colorado-reader Boulder, Co USA 03-14-13
      Colorado-reader Boulder, Co USA 03-14-13

      Tell the story

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      "If you have PTSD-- DO NOT READ!"
      Where does The Good Soldiers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

      First- My daughter fought in Iraq and came back with PTSD. Now I really understand why.

      I would not rank it high- It was educational and interesting, but way too intense for me.


      What other book might you compare The Good Soldiers to and why?

      I can't think of one. It was a story of young people burning alive and a war lived from day to day, that from the ground seemed futile.


      What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

      The narrator was alright, but even in the happy moments he was very serious.


      Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

      Too many, if by "moved" you mean sickened.


      Any additional comments?

      I gave it a decent rating, and it was a story worth knowing because the story is true. If it had been fiction it would have been a terrible story to purposefully impose on anyone. I am serious when I say that depressed people or soldiers with PTSD should not read it.

      0 of 1 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Ronald Colorado Springs, CO, United States 08-21-10
      Ronald Colorado Springs, CO, United States 08-21-10
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      "good book"

      i found this to be a good book not a great book, i finished it and am glad i did it is a story we all should hear.

      i would have perhaps enjoyed this more if driving across country late at night.

      0 of 1 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Tim McGrath Chicago 12-29-09
      Tim McGrath Chicago 12-29-09
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Overpraised"

      I had to quit reading it too, not only because of the repetition but because of the cliches. I mean cliches of war reporting, not cliches of language. Compared to such classics as "Dispatches," "Black Hawk Down," and "The Forever War," this book is nothing, a big yawn. I don't know why it's garnered such good reviews. I quit less than half-way through.

      2 of 7 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Monkey 10-21-10
      Monkey 10-21-10
      ratings
      REVIEWS
      10
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      Overall
      "Should of been so much more"

      I know a good book when I read one and this one was not! My hats off to the men of the "216" but the way their story was told was a yawn. My 1st audible book I found myself wanting to fastfoward....

      0 of 4 people found this review helpful
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