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Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War
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Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War

4.1 14
by Matt Gallagher
 

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Major Moe continued. "Atmospherics. We need to check on the local-nationals and ensure that they are all reading the newspaper..."

Skerk eventually sputtered out a reply. "Why would we ... may I ask why, sir?"

"Because it's important to find out if they are reading them, that's why. Like this article here-" Major Moe' s fingers slammed down onto the newspaper

Overview

Major Moe continued. "Atmospherics. We need to check on the local-nationals and ensure that they are all reading the newspaper..."

Skerk eventually sputtered out a reply. "Why would we ... may I ask why, sir?"

"Because it's important to find out if they are reading them, that's why. Like this article here-" Major Moe' s fingers slammed down onto the newspaper and pointed at Arabic words-"what is this article about? If we read it, then we can talk to the local-nationals about it when we're on patrol. Then we can gather those atmospherics and send them up to brigade."

Skerk leaned over and looked at the newspaper.

"Sir, that article is about dinosaurs evolving from birds."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this hauntingly direct war memoir, a cocky West Coast frat boy becomes a reflective leader in the later part of the Iraq conflict. Not long after his 2007 deployment, Lt. Gallagher had become a much-read blogger, but his blunt account ran afoul of the higher-ups. In this blog-like memoir of his year-plus in Iraq, he provides an episodic, day-by-day account of life during wartime, covering everything from the fear of shooting innocent citizens to the impact of a Dear John letter on a unit. Gallagher employs a close eye and enormous compassion when recounting tragedies like a horrible explosive accident and pervasive poverty and despair in an area known as "trash village." Gallagher's vivid, atmospheric descriptions can occasionally get away from him ("It was modern Iraq, permanently soaked in a blood-red-sea past it would never be able to part"), but he provides much canny, moving commentary on the power of war to transform soldiers and civilians: "Suddenly the stare was the norm house by house, block by block, and town by town, and all of the flower petals dried up, and we suddenly recognized that those cheers of gratitude were actually pleas for salvation."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Lt. Gallagher arrived in Iraq in 2007 and promptly started to blog about it; his site became widely read by soldiers. It was ordered shut down in 2008 but was part of the cultural shift that by the next year embraced blogging by soldiers. Here, his exceptional narrative technique makes the soldier in-group cant both believable and coherent; his relentless pursuit of sanity in the midst of a chaotic storm of IEDs, policy changes, sheiks, civilians, and baffling missions makes this blog-based memoir an exciting read reminiscent of Anthony Swofford's Jarhead.
From the Publisher
New York Journal of Books, 8/20/10 “A first-person account of life where the IED hits the road. Gallagher’s first command—a scout platoon—is a classic picture of soldiers drawn straight from the American underclass…They are flawlessly presented as the Joes of the Iraq and Afghan wars…Gallagher’s men are rich in irony and political incorrectness.”

Washington Post, 8/28/10
“[A] half comic, half heart-breaking hour-by-hour account.”

Winston-Salem Journal
“Gallagher is the voice of this war.”
 

Officer, 10/10
“Readable, often humorous…Convey[s] a sense of what the tip of the spear Soldier and his company grade leaders experienced on an Iraq deployment…For anyone wishing to get a genuine feel for recent deployment experiences of today’s Army company grade officer, this book will go a long way in delivering a realistic and candid view…Get a copy and put it on your reading list.”
 

Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/10/10
“[A] gritty memoir about modern warfare in the Mideast.”
 

The Old Gold and Black (Wake Forest University), 10/18/10


Entertainment Weekly, 4/30/10
“as funny as it is harrowing.”

InternetReviewofBooks.com, April 2010
“[Gallagher] proves himself a gifted writer in this boots-on-the-ground report, with some of his prose echoing the scattershot riffs of Dylan without the guitar…[His] analysis of his situation, his troopers, the rear echelon, the high command, the profiteers, and the Iraqis (friend and foe) is insightful and candid...Gallagher simply gives a platoon leader’s perspective of an ugly war that has cost our nation so much in so many ways. Perhaps it is best to think of the young lieutenant’s memoir as one more paving stone for the road toward a fair historical assessment that our grandchildren may appreciate.”

Galveston Daily News, 4/18/10
“While the opening of the book borrows heavily from the blog, it doesn’t simply regurgitate his blog postings. Gallagher adds material that puts his experiences in context and rewrote much of the rest. Unchanged is what made the blog so delightful—the irreverence of his words and the immediacy of what he experienced...Kaboom offers an intimate and poignant look at the rough men willing to do violence so good people can sleep peacefully in their beds—during a period that tested those men to their limits. It is well worth reading.”

Library Journal, 4/1/10
“[Gallagher’s] exceptional narrative technique makes the soldier in-group cant both believable and coherent; his relentless pursuit of sanity in the midst of a chaotic storm of IEDs, policy changes, sheiks, civilians, and baffling missions makes this blog-based memoir an exciting read reminiscent of Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead.”

Zink magazine, April 2010
Kaboom is nothing short of purely honest, unabashedly descriptive and unexpectedly humorous.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4/4/10
“An oddly fascinating account of the high points (and low points) of Gallagher’s 15-month deployment…Kaboom will generate strong responses from readers.”

“Gallagher is a phenomenal writer…He is so real in his writing. He does not hold back, which is why his story is so appealing. We want the truth, and Gallagher gives us nothing but…This war story is as real as you can get. Welcome to the history books Lieutenant.”
 

Nancy Pearl (via Twitter), 6/27/10
“Matt Gallagher's Kaboom—ironic, visceral, based on his well known blog about his experiences as an army lieutenant in Iraq.”
 

Talk of the Town” (WTVF), 6/1/10
“If you want the inside soldier’s view of the most recent Iraq War, read this first person account of Gallagher’s 15 month deployment.”
 
Winston-Salem Journal, 7/25/10
“Gallagher is the voice of this war.”
 
Collected Miscellany, 6/15/10
“Gallagher does an excellent job of portraying the daily grind of counterinsurgency warfare…[His] writing style is free and easy to read. He does not write with a lot of military jargon…A must-read for anyone interested in reading a grunt officer’s perspective on the counterinsurgency war in Iraq.”
 
Midwest Book Review, June 2010

The New Republic, 6/11/10
“A vivid and introspective chronicle of Gallagher’s fifteen months in Iraq…Its aim is simple: to explain what it is like to wage an unconventional war…Unlike a journalist, whose Heisenberg-like presence inevitably distorts, Gallagher is able to candidly depict the lighter moments of war…And Gallagher gives the book’s characters…much more than the name-rank-hometown exposition that too often flattens soldiers in print…Evocative prose, convincing dialogue, and, especially, telling vignettes of life as an American soldier in Iraq.”

Tucson Citizen, 6/14/10
"[Gallagher] freely shares what it was like to face the ever-presence threat of snipers and roadside bombs. He debates the effectiveness of the overall military strategy of the latest surge and struggles to understand the big picture in a memoir that is honest, candid, and insightful.”

JulesCrittenden.com, 6/14/10
“Beautifully written, literary in its approach, and looks to be a good companion to [Rage Company’s] more Spartan, unadorned take on the business end of surge operations and counterinsurgency.”

 

Kick Ass Book Reviews, 6/24/10

“A soldier's account of the realities of war…No military library should be without this.”
 

Proceedings, August 2010
“Matt Gallagher’s memoir is the finest I have yet read from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…The genius of both the blog and the memoir is Gallagher’s ability and willingness to accurately capture not just the fear and boredom of small-unit combat but also its hilarity…Laugh-out-loud dialogue…Gallagher’s parting act of service is this book, which is as noteworthy for its adventurous and stylized prose as for the story it tells…As engaging a combat memoir as any I have ever read.”  
 
Boston Globe, 8/10/10
“Provides a firsthand glimpse at the fog of modern war.”
 

Military Times, 5/24/10
Kaboom is funny and profound, urbane and vulgar, witty and worthwhile…Photos with informative captions, and an index [are] the only pages in Kaboom without a sense of humor…As jaw-dropping, laugh-inducing and eye-opening as any life-threatening rollercoaster ride in a war zone.”

Sacramento Book Review, 5/26/10
“A candid look at counterinsurgency warfare…Gallagher’s descriptions of daily interactions between his soldiers, civilians, sheiks, Iraqi army, and Iraqi police will keep most readers turning the pages. He conveys the terrible stress soldiers face in dangerous situations, while also communicating the marathon tedium of their daily lives…An excellent book for anyone interested in the observations, expectations, humor, and work ethic of the next generation of American leaders.”

St. Petersburg Times, 5/30/10
“A memoir by turns harrowing, hilarious and absurd.”"

Combines the stark reality of war with humor as Gallagher describes his daily activities."—Syracuse Post-Standard, 11/1/16

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306818806
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
03/23/2010
Pages:
310
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.12(d)

Meet the Author

Matt Gallagher joined the Army in 2005 and left in 2009 following a fifteen-month tour in Iraq. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Youngblood. Originally from Reno, Nevada, he now lives in New York City.

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Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extraordinary insight, intellect and brilliant writing. Every man and every woman who went to War in their youth will appreciate. Every man and every woman who has sent a son or daughter to War will appreciate. Every person who is interested in counter insurgency warfare will appreciate. Every citizen who ponders our Country's involvement in Iraq will appreciate. Every person over the age of 35 and who is charged with supervising individuals under the age of 30 will appreciate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic. it is splendidly written and could inspire even the most hard of people. I strongly recommend it to anyone who loves to read.
tomfd More than 1 year ago
Matt Gallagher wrote a geat book, I couldn't put it down. Well written, very insightful and of sourse funney at times.
AMCIT More than 1 year ago
I've been in the military or supporting the military for 30 years. Never faced combat, and COIN operations are perhaps the most unsettling form of combat. This was a reminder that I've helped, but never been there, and helped me put my efforts back into perspective. Best read an essay or two at a time, with plenty of reflection opportunity.
TedW48 More than 1 year ago
Kaboom is the Iraq book we've all been waiting for. Part Vonnegut, part Heller, part new generation irony and sarcasm. The kid is a good platoon leader but a great writer. Deployed to the Surge, leading men into combat - this episodic-style memoir allows the reader to enjoy the ride. We bear witness to a platoon break down and build back up in the midst of bullets flying. We bear witness to all the insanity and brutality only a combat zone can offer. And we bear witness to a privileged college kid transform into a consummate leader of men. Recommend it to anyone and everyone interested in the murkiness of the human experience.
avniamin More than 1 year ago
This isn’t an action story, this is the FUBAR story of the military told by someone who really gets it. I enjoyed his perspective of the war and the U.S. Army. 
lamentableapril More than 1 year ago
This started as a blog for family and friends and it has that great authentic voice of frustration. The voice is genuine and the events at time hilarious and teeth grinding with annoyance. It’s real military and a great blog turned book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was lost on me at times. I found I had trouble keeping up sometimes. I am happy I read this book as I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing during some of the stories. I would recommend. An even better war book is The Good Soldiers.
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CBH More than 1 year ago
The author, Matt Gallagher, became a member of the army through the ROTC program (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and had no interest in war. While Matt was living his life of freedom, the war raged in Iraq placing many of our military in danger. He really didn't give it a second thought. When the time came for Matt to go to Iraq, he had been partying in Hawaii trying to keep Iraq far from his mind and his life but the inevitable time came and he had to leave his life of fun with his friends, family, and his girlfriend. He was a Lieutenant and would be in charge of men that he had to take into war, something he never thought would exist in his life. The platoon he was given was named the "Gravediggers", a choice name for a war unit! Matt got along well with his platoon of enlisted men of various ranks. He did not socialize since this was supposed to be taboo in the military between officers and enlisted men but they all worked together as one. Matt describes a brief history of the area along with the ties and struggles between the various factions of Iraq. Some of the platoon's activities required visiting the sheiks in their homes/palaces as well as sitting in meetings using the Iraqi interpreters. Much of the time the army platoons intermingled and worked with the Iraqi army, most of that time having to use interpreters. While on patrol they all had to be extremely cautious having eyes on every area near and distant as they moved or when they stopped for various reasons. There were three grades of officers; company grade officers, field grade, and general officers, all of which had to be dealt with in different ways. One never knew if a superior officer was visiting or just being nosy, so caution was used all around. Officers gave the orders, and, even if they sounded out of whack, they had to take some action to obey those "superior" officers orders. Matt never liked most of the high brass. The platoon patrols traveled, as ordered, down the roads and other areas to keep peace with civilians, check reported explosives (some actual but usually false reports), give candy or other goodies to the children that were always asking for them, and in general try to keep things as calm as humanly possible. No one in the military knew from one minute to the next, whether in their safer compound or on patrol, when they would come under fire or run or walk over an explosive. One of the biggest problems our military had was lack of sleep. Their patrols began before they could get proper rest when action got too volatile. Of course the food left much to be desired. Matt Gallagher had fifteen hard months to serve in Iraq, mostly in active zones. The army tried to talk him into upping his enlistment but Matt wanted no part of this, thus taking him off of advancement lists. But he still was upped to Captain during his patrol but Matt was not content unless he was active with his men no matter which platoon it may have been. Matt had written his own blog but the military made him take it down as he wrote things as they really were, not as the brass wanted people to think. That was the main reason Matt wrote this book after his army life was over and could tell things the real way he saw it in Iraq. When patrols are described you will feel as though you were on them wondering to yourself what would happen next. Very well told and written, containing some language we might not use in our daily life.