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Redeployment sells itself on the cover as being the real deal. I think that’s a fair enough assessment. This is a collection of short narratives – some running to a dozen pages or more; others just a page or two. Each tells a story of American involvement in Iraq from a different perspective. Understandably, most are voices from the military, although there is the occasional voice from the civilian involvement. Phil Klay avoids the temptation to create heroes or play politics. Naturally some of the narratives involve doing heroic things, but these are outweighed by the stories of medics, body collection, office jockeys and logistics. The narratives feel authentic and don’t waste time with background information or explanations. One (mercifully short) story is told almost entirely in indecipherable acronyms. Despite the variety of narratives and voices, the striking point is that the participants’ motivations are almost always personal, and often venal. There is no hint of creating a stronger community; of ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction; of promoting democracy; or protecting the Kurds. Even when coming under direct fire, the motivation is purely on protecting colleagues, winning medals or impressing girlfriends. Some of the narrators are more likeable than others; and a couple are completely repellent. But they are never less than totally engaging. Despite the commonality between the narratives, they never feel repetitive; never feel too longwinded; yet always feel complete. The language seems spot on and it can be difficult to believe these are not direct transcripts of interviews given to camera. The result is a multi-faceted picture of the US engagement; of the challenges faced by those involved in the operations; and the struggles they face in readapting to a normal life when they return home. Of course, one can always point to missing perspectives but for all that, it is worth celebrating the many perspectives that are included. It is the most complete fictional portrayal I have found of the current US engagement in Iraq and, Richard House’s The Kills apart, the most credible. ****0
"So They May Stand Alone" Training Iraqi Security Forces in 2005 by Magnus Edward Being in Iraq is like being on another planet. Everyone that has been there has a story to tell. This story is a brief window into but one perspective of what Iraq was really like during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Training a foreign people to fight in their own country is an odd task that brings about strange events. Americans and Iraqis working together, their cultures could not have been more different. "Quite some time has passed since the days that we sweated it out at the East Fallujah Iraqi Camp. This is a recollection of what happened out there. There were several Marines that helped to conduct the training that we did. I think that we all equally contributed in different ways. Each one of them should be proud of what they did. Although this story is told from my perspective, it is not my story, it is our story." This book is a look at the culture, religion, and perhaps some insight into current events. link removed - please use the Amazon link at the top of the page to buy the book