The Good Soldiers

The Good Soldiers

3.8 121
by David Finkel
     
 

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A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR:
THE NEW YORK TIMES
CHICAGO TRIBUNE
SLATE.COM
THE BOSTON GLOBE
THE KANSAS CITY STAR
THE PLAIN DEALER (CLEVELAND)
THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
WINNER OF THE HELEN BERNSTEIN BOOK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM

It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January

Overview

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR:
THE NEW YORK TIMES
CHICAGO TRIBUNE
SLATE.COM
THE BOSTON GLOBE
THE KANSAS CITY STAR
THE PLAIN DEALER (CLEVELAND)
THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
WINNER OF THE HELEN BERNSTEIN BOOK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM

It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. It became known as "the surge." Among those called to carry it out 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. The chronicle of their tour is gripping, devastating, and deeply illuminating for anyone with an interest in human conflict. With The Good Soldiers, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Finkel has produced an eternal story — not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Finkel has made art out of a defining moment in history. You will be able to take this book down from the shelf years from now and say: 'This is what happened. This is what it felt like.'” —Doug Stanton, The New York Times Book Review

“Let me be direct. The Good Soldiers by David Finkel is the most honest, most painful, and most brilliantly rendered account of modern war I've ever read. I got no exercise at all the day I gulped down its 284 riveting pages.” —Daniel Okrent, Fortune

“Over and over, I cried. I endured nightmares. I have read hundreds of books about war and almost two dozen books about the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Most of them affected me. But none has affected me as deeply as The Good Soldiers.” —Steve Weinberg, The Kansas City Star

“Heart-stopping . . . captures the surreal horror of war.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“A whole generation of these men will (God willing) be coming home, and The Good Soldiers is as good a guide as I can imagine to who they'll be when they get here.” —Devin Friedman, GQ

“[A] new classic . . . the reader cannot get enough . . . As a compelling read, The Good Soldiers is all good.” —J. Ford Huffman, Military Times

“David Finkel has written the most unforgettable book of the Iraq War, a masterpiece that will far outlast the fighting.” —David Maraniss, author of They Marched into Sunlight

“From a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer at the height of his powers comes an incandescent and profoundly moving book: powerful, intense, enraging. This may be the best book on war since the Iliad.” —Geraldine Brooks, author of People of the Book and March

“This is the best account I have read of the life of one unit in the Iraq War. It is closely observed, carefully recorded, and beautifully written. David Finkel doesn't just take you into the lives of our soldiers, he takes you deep into their nightmares.” —Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble

“Brilliant, heartbreaking, deeply true. The Good Soldiers offers the most intimate view of life and death in a twenty-first-century combat unit I have ever read. Unsparing, unflinching, and, at times, unbearable.” —Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle

“This is the finest book yet written on the platoon-level combat of the Iraq war . . . Unforgettable--raw, moving, and rendered with literary control . . . No one who reads this book will soon forget its imagery, words, or characters.” —Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars

“Vivid and moving . . .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, starred review

“A superb account of the burdens soldiers bear.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Michiko Kakutani
…heart-stopping …Like Michael Herr's Dispatches and Tim O'Brien's Things They Carried, this is a book that captures the surreal horror of war: the experience of blood and violence and occasional moments of humanity that soldiers witness firsthand, and the slide shows of terrible pictures that will continue to play through their heads long after they have left the battlefield…It is Mr. Finkel's accomplishment in this harrowing book that he not only depicts what the Iraq war is like for the soldiers of the 2-16…but also the incalculable ways in which the war bends (or in some cases warps) the remaining arc of their lives.
—The New York Times
Doug Stanton
Like [Ernie] Pyle, Finkel brilliantly captures the terrors of ordinary men enduring extraordinary circumstances…[in] this ferociously reported, darkly humorous and spellbinding book…Finkel has made art out of a defining moment in history. You will be able to take this book down from the shelf years from now and say: This is what happened. This is what it felt like…Finkel brings the art of storytelling back to the drama of war.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
A success story in the headlines, the surge in Iraq was an ordeal of hard fighting and anguished trauma for the American soldiers on the ground, according to this riveting war report. Washington Post correspondent Finkel chronicles the 15-month deployment of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Baghdad during 2007 and 2008, when the chaos in Iraq subsided to a manageable uproar. For the 2-16, waning violence still meant wild firefights, nerve-wracking patrols through hostile neighborhoods where every trash pile could hide an IED, and dozens of comrades killed and maimed. At the fraught center of the story is Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, whose dogged can-do optimism—his motto is “It’s all good”—pits itself against declining morale and whispers of mutiny. While vivid and moving, Finkel’s grunt’s-eye view is limited; the soldiers’ perspective is one of constant improvisatory reaction to attacks and crises, and we get little sense of exactly how and why the new American counterinsurgency methods calmed the Iraqi maelstrom. Still, 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. Photos. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Did the much-vaunted surge of American troops in Iraq work? Yes, said George W. Bush. A soldierly response differed: "I've had enough of this bullshit."So details Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post writer Finkel in this excellent study of soldiers under fire. In January 2007, Bush ordered a surge that involved flooding the Baghdad and other key locations with soldiers to quell anti-American partisan activity. In the field were troops who had seen time in Iraq before, had gone home and been sent back. Some were from a battalion stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., and they had the good fortune to be commanded by a smart West Pointer who had earned his Ranger parachute and had served in the first Gulf War and Afghanistan. His troops affectionately dubbed Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, "the Lost Kauz." The sobriquet proved fitting, as Finkel chronicles, and though Kauzlarich did his best to prevent harm from befalling his charges, he could not stop the IEDs, suicide attacks and stray shots that inevitably followed their movements. The author writes with the you-are-there immediacy of Richard Tregaskis's Guadalcanal Diary (1943), taking the reader into the field, where, against a $100 explosive device, a "$150,000 Humvee might as well have been constructed of lace." Finkel also depicts the gruesome aftermath of such explosions: "All four limbs burned away, bony stumps visible. Superior portion of cranium burned away," reads a battalion doctor's death report. "No further exam possible due to degree of charring." Aspects of the surge, the author writes, were merely rhetorical. Others were unquestionably successful, particularly the reduction in the number of attacks on Americans-successes to bechalked up to the bravery of the men and women under fire, and in no way, Finkel says, to anything happening in Washington. Says Kauz of one action that serves as an epigram to the entire enterprise, "It's fucked up. But you did the right thing."A superb account of the burdens soldiers bear. Agent: Melanie Jackson/Melanie Jackson Agency

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312430023
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
08/03/2010
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
205,269
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author


David Finkel is a senior writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security and the national enterprise editor at The Washington Post. He is the recipient of the MacArther "Genius" Fellowship. Finkel won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 for a series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and two daughters.

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The Good Soldiers 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 121 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Good Soldiers is one of the best books I have ever read of any sort. Extremely well written, The Good Soldiers takes the reader on a journey into the Iraq war with such intensity that at times you feel the IED's go off and the bullets fly past your head. David Finkel writes a book that at one minute pulls at your emotions of sorrow and the next has you near ranting at the absurdity of the Iraq war. A must read for anyone trying to get an insight to the US involment in Iraq and what it means to our men and women in war.
bellasnb8587 More than 1 year ago
I think most people forget about the war overseas. Understandably, everyone is facing a difficult economy amongst other things, but this book brings us back to reality. As a soldier myself, this book hit so close to home. I have yet to be deployed, so this book made me appreciate, even more, what my fellow soldiers do everyday in Iraq and Afghanistan while I get to be home living a normal life. This book was absolutely heartbreaking, and I cried pretty much the entire time reading it. It's a startling reminder that I think we all need. This book was well written and has amazing insight from soldiers who have lived in the midst of war. Very Powerful.
Melancholia More than 1 year ago
Since I am a military mom this book really moved me and brought these young soldiers back to life, or to life. I could not put it down.
cannonball More than 1 year ago
A war correspondent's story detailing the history of an America infantry battalion during the surge in Baghdad. The author takes the reader out on patrol in one of the nastiest neighborhoods in Baghdad and unblinkingly describes what happens when a homemade bomb explodes under a Humvee. The result is a vivid depiction of what war feels like on the ground. The book makes no attempt to tell the story of the war from a higher level, or to place the action described in its pages in any larger wartime context. This is not a comfortable book to read, but it is honest, and I do recommend it.
JIMPS More than 1 year ago
I have recently taken to reading military history books to understand the situation our current world is in. I am 27 and the Middle East situation is my equivalent of the Viatnam War for prior generations. It is difficult to learn the situation our soldiers face, due to media manipulation. This book is a well written account of the "Surge" in Iraq and a;; the dificulties the soldiers faced. The book tells of the mental toll that the war is taking on the young men and women serving in Iraq. The war in the Middle East is nothing like anything we have seen before. The EFP's and IED's are causing a whole new set of problems for the soldiers involved. Finkel was imbedded with the 2-16 and painted a true picture of the true toll this war is taking on those individuals serving in the Middle East theater.
68Vet More than 1 year ago
Having read more than 8 books on the Iraqi conflict I found Mr.Finkels book to very precise and to the point without needing to add "side bars" to complete the story. Easily the best read thus far on this issue.
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
How does one describe a war? Was there ever a war that seemed like a success? Oh yes--I remember now. The one Bush,Jr declared finished after a month or two. Imagine you are lying flat on the hot, dusty surface of a road east of Baghdad, in Rustamiyah. Like an IED, say, or an EFP. (Improvised Explosive Device or Explosively Formed Penetrator) Imagine you take a picture of the world from that viewpoint. I felt Finkel's book allowed us to view the war in Iraq from a similar vantagepoint. A single battalion (the 2-16) experiences "the surge" in this book. We hear a rounded account, from the Lieutenant Colonel (Colonel K) leading the group, to the replacement soldiers for the dead and the wounded. We hear from the wives, the translators, the medalled, the battle-weary. There are no victors. It is terrifying, war is. If you want to see what bad is, you can have a look here. As we strive in our lives to achieve, and be the best of what man can be, our soldiers are seeing the worst of what man can be. I don't have words enough to express my sorrow...
ConnorN More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It really showed the war in Iraq for what it really is rather than what you hear in the news or read in an article. It really puts things into perspective. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes to read the truth and isn't afraid to read things that could potentially make you cry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story of how "In war, the winner only appears to win." Lots of luck to my brother survivors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
silencedogoodreturns More than 1 year ago
VERY disappointed in this book. It is basically just an anti-war book by an author who has the Bush derangement syndrome. Honestly, this type of reporting is more like something out of the 1960s. If you like manipulative tear jerkers about how awful war is, this is your book. If you wanted to get into the midst of a current war, what it's about, why the people are there, how they go about their job, what the strategies are, etc etc, you will be sadly disappointed, as I was. Of course wars are bad. Duh. But these guys were all volunteers, and all volunteered to be combat infantry. To make them out to be victims of politicians is just superficial and silly. If you want TRUE insight, I recommend Nathaniel Frick's One Bullet Away or Evan Wright's Generation Kill. Even the title of this book is insulting - the GOOD soldiers is tongue in check, mocking what their commander thought of them as they were first sent to Baghdad as part of the surge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone who supported this war should read this book to see what we havel done to thousands our military and thier famalies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is powerful in it's description of the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Finkel's reporting of soldiers' experiences is graphic. It gives a small glimpse of the hell of war to civilians, not a sanitized movie version. The sacrifices made and the horrors endured by the soldiers, AND their families, are immense. Each of us needs to know about them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read! When i first started to read it, i couldn't stop reading it. This story is all about the wars of the past and present and it tells about the soldiers who fought in the war and how the conditions were in battle. And it also states some of the soldiers who fought for our freedom. I reccomend it to anyone who likes to read up on history or who are interested in the military! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a powerful book, told by the author is first person account.  It really tells of the horrible physical and mental trauma that these soldiers went thru. I have a read a lot of ‘war story’ books and this one rates right up there at the top. You really feel you’re there with Finkel’s narratives and conversations with what it was  really like during the ‘surge’.  Get this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written. I would recommend to anyone who wants to know more about what our soldiers are experiencing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book and keeps you interested
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an honest and unvarnished telling of the experiences of an infantry company in the early days of the Iraq war. What these young soldiers saw and did is hard to fully comprehend - what they accomplished is awesome, the sad part is that what they did will probably not last in Iraq. Like all real and factual accounts of combat and the soldiers who go through it, this ends up feeling anti-war. As a society we ask a great deal of the people we send to war - they must live with what they say and did the rest of their lives. Bless them.