Monday, April 28, 2014

Book 37: Redeployment

I usually shy away from military related books, and short story collections, so I'm still a bit surprised I even picked this up since it fits both of those categories.  I'd seen it mentioned on one of those Amazon Editors' Picks lists, and when I saw it at Barnes and Noble, I started reading the first few pages just out of curiosity.  One reason I was slightly more interested in this one than other military novels is that one review had said that this collection might have a hard time appealing to civilians since it doesn't change up the language much or anything.
Having said that, I thought the collection was rather well done, and rang true even if I couldn't relate to many of the details or the specifics.  To be honest, I think that's another reason I am not that drawn to military books.  I never feel like they tell my story, and to be honest, a book about my deployments would be rather boring.  I was in a PLS company and did convoys on one, and during the other I had a staff job - I had long hours, but my actual job was predictable and as safe as you could possibly get in a war zone.  However, there were a few stories that actually did remind me of some of my experiences.
The one that comes most specifically to mind was the story told from the perspective of the Foreign Service Officer.  I wasn't in a civil affairs unit or anything like that, but much of my second deployment was focused on partnering with the Iraqi Army units in an advise and assist role.  As a result, some of the things definitely rang true since I remember my Soldiers complaining about the fact that we kept teaching them the same things, they totally knew what they were doing, and in some cases, our systems wouldn't work because they had their own.  I also a meeting with one particular Iraqi leader which basically turned into him giving us a laundry list of things they wanted - of course, we couldn't legally give him any of the things he requested but it shows the difference between what we were able to offer and what they actually wanted for themselves.
Honestly, I just enjoyed seeing the names of places I'd been mentioned in writing, such as Al Asad, Taji, Anaconda/Balad, Ramadi and even Istaqlaal (I was based in the first two, and brief stops or convoys to the others) as well as seeing other recognizable places and names.  Klay was a Marine and most of the stories are from the perspective of Marines, so the acronyms weren't always familiar.  Then again, if you talk to a Field Artillery guy in the Army and a logistics guy, you are already dealing with two slightly different cultures and vocabularies so that's not exactly a surprise.  As far as how well it reflects how people feel after combat and their experiences, I can't judge but it mostly rings true or at least conforms to what we think people must feel based on other books that have been published about the last decade of war.

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