My War: Killing Time in Iraq

My War: Killing Time in Iraq

4.6 23
by Colby Buzzell

View All Available Formats & Editions

An underemployed, skateboarding party animal, Colby Buzzell traded a dead-end future for the army—and ended up as a machine gunner in Iraq. To make sense of the absurd and frightening events surrounding him, he started writing a blog about the war—and how it differed from the government’s official version. But as his blog’s popularity grew,


An underemployed, skateboarding party animal, Colby Buzzell traded a dead-end future for the army—and ended up as a machine gunner in Iraq. To make sense of the absurd and frightening events surrounding him, he started writing a blog about the war—and how it differed from the government’s official version. But as his blog’s popularity grew, Buzzell became the embedded reporter the Army couldn’t control—despite its often hilarious efforts to do so.

The result is an extraordinary narrative, rich with unforgettable scenes: the Iraqi woman crying uncontrollably during a raid on her home; the soldier too afraid to fight; the troops chain-smoking in a guard tower and counting tracer rounds; the first, fierce firefight against the “men in black.” Drawing comparisons to everything from Charles Bukowski to Catch-22, My War depicts a generation caught in a complicated and dangerous world—and marks the debut of a raw, remarkable new voice.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With this relentlessly cynical volume, Buzzell converts his widely read 2004 blog into an episodic but captivating memoir about the year he spent serving as an army "trigger puller" in Iraq. Posted to Mosul in late 2003, Buzzell's platoon was ordered "to locate, capture and kill all non compliant forces." Accordingly, his entries describe experiences pursuing elusive guerrillas (aka "men in black"); enduring sniping, rocket and mortar attacks; and witnessing the occasional car bomb. Face-to-face fighting almost never occurs. No matter: though the combat scenes are exciting, this book is actually more engrossing as a portrait of the day-to-day life of a young American soldier who has "read, and re-read, countless times, every single one of [Bukowski's] books." Like Bukowski, Buzzell appears to be a sentimental misanthrope; he pours scorn on everyone from cooks to generals to President Bush. He also despises the media, the antiwar movement and everyone who thinks they understand what's happening in Iraq. That his superiors kept their hands off his blog for several months, however, shows they understood that-despite its foul language, griping, insults directed at higher officers and occasional exposure of dirty linen-Buzzell's work never really wavers in its portrayal of American forces as the good guys in a dirty war. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
At age 25, Buzzell had already led a life that embraced alcohol, drugs, a minor criminal record, and a series of dead-end jobs. Enlisting in the U.S. Army, he set his focus on "Being All That You Can Be" as an infantryman, spending most of 2003 in Iraq assigned to the Stryker Brigade Combat Team. He began sharing his experiences through a blog, thus providing more truth than CNN or the army could or would. Here, Buzzell cleverly prepares a text that is part memoir, part diary entries, and part email messages. War veterans will understand the episodic nature of his narrative, the confusion of described battle, the brutality of his life, and the rawness of his prose. With Buzzell's return to the States and the close of an effective soldier's life, neither he nor the reader is sure that he has not come full circle and returned to his civilian life of loss. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/05.] Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A slacker goes to war and returns no more fit for the workaday world than before, but with tales to tell. The recruiter didn't have to sell him hard: Buzzell, a young punk skateboarder, clearly bright but clearly unmotivated, was still living with his parents and doing data-entry temp work at the age of 26. The promise of a signing bonus and whatever job he wanted was enough for Buzzell, who wasn't alone in seeing the military as an escape from the doldrums; as he writes, "I was sick of living my life in oblivion where every fucking day was the same fucking thing as the day before, and the same fucking routine day in and day out." There's no end of routine in the Army, of course, but Buzzell's days were made interesting when he was put to work fighting the Iraqi insurgency. Buzzell is fond of quoting Full Metal Jacket, evidently the coin of the realm among his fellow soldiers, and if his narrative doesn't come close to matching the work of Michael Herr and Gustav Hasford, on which that movie was based, he does a good job of capturing the daily absurdities and occasional terrors of life on the front, where even a trip to the mess hall is likely to result in a wound. Some of the sharpest writing comes from the author's blog, which earned him celebrity beyond Iraq (and the chance to write this book) and got him in plenty of trouble with the brass. Without blog and book, his options would have been narrow: Toting a machine gun for a year didn't prepare him for much in the postwar world, and as for "having a boss yell at me for showing up to work five minutes late or tell me that I'm not smiling enough at the customers"-well, impossible. If military recruitment is down now, wait till the kidsread this book.
From the Publisher
“I remember reading Colby's journal entries on the internet when he was filing them from Iraq and being amazed at how, besides how heavy the material was, how sharp and vividly intense his writing was. My War is the real deal reportage from the ground. There's no way any reporter could have brought this back. If you care about our brave soldiers in the fray and want to get an insight into what it's really like out there, My War is essential reading...I'll take Colby's word over a journalist's any day.” —Henry Rollins

“Soul-jarring observations and darkly comedic insights into what it really means to be fighting and idling in this war.” —Los Angeles Times Magazine

“Reminiscent of Michael Herr’s Dispatches.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Remarkably blunt, honest, and often hilarious.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“Profound, profane...told with irresistible gallows humor and anger devoid of self-consciousness. Give[s] us a much deeper understanding of war.” —Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“A style reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson...fueled by an anti-authority, punk-rock attitude.” —Poets and Writers

“Striking...with a steeliness that’s both sincere and chilling.” —People

“If military recruitment is down now, wait till the kids read this book.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In gutsy, sometimes profane prose, he takes you on a soldier’s-eye view of the front lines of the war.” —Newsweek

“Captivating memoir about the year [Buzzell] spent serving as an army ‘trigger puller’ in Iraq....though the combat scenes are exciting, this book is actually more engrossing as a portrait of the day-to-day life of a young American soldier.” —Publishers Weekly

My War is the story of a young grunt trying to survive...What you soon realize about this stranger at the bar, Colby Buzzell, is that he can knock you off your barstool at a moment’s notice with soul-jarring observations and darkly comedic insights into what it really means to be fighting and idling in this war.” —Los Angeles Times Magazine

“Provid[es] more truth than CNN or the army could or would.” —Library Journal

“Incredible accounts of combat from a grunt’s-eye view.” —Rolling Stone

“Funny, often surreal ‘What the @!%# am I doing here?’ account of military life.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Breathtaking...Buzzell’s self-awareness is total and unromantic, his instinct for what matters unrelenting, his writing lyrical, heartbreaking, hilarious, and essential.” —Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers

“Raw, sardonic, and thrashingly honest, My War is a stellar grunt’s-eye view of the Iraq war.” —Men’s Journal

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.27(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

What People are saying about this

Kurt Vonnegut
My nothing less than the soul of an extremely interesting human being at war on our behalf in Iraq.

Meet the Author

Before enlisting in the U.S. Army at age twenty-six, Colby Buzzell lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. He served over two years, including a year in Iraq.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

My War: Killing Time in Iraq 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my son serving in Iraq. I flipped through it to see what it was about and could not put it down. This book details the life of our soldiers without the clouded media version. Any parent of a soldier or the soldiers themselves should read this book. Colby did not hold anything back and tells it like it is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Colby Buzzell's book was recommended to me by my history professor when I stated my interest in reading books about the Iraq War and I'm so glad it was recommended to me. I could not put the book down, Buzzell is a very talented author who conveyed his experience well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing story. You get to read about who Colby is and understand his struggles  with reading his point of view of various stuff that happens around him. If you have thoughts of joining the  military then pick up this book and read about it. It will help you see what it is like in Afghanistan, and prepare you for any stress related issues whether if its at boot camp, or your fellow comrades playing games with you. I give this book 5 stars. It's a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Colby Buzzel; My War review Colby Buzzel, a slight alcoholic with a history of drug use with no where in particular to go, sitting around at the skate park or job hunting, he has next to nothing going on. He thus joins the military and his adventure begins over in Iraq he sees what life is like on the other side and experiences war for himself. All written as the truth. I loved this book because Colby writes it as he sees it, all in his own words. This includes his cursing as well as his views or opinion on things. He is a great writer making his story compelling. When I had finished the book I was annoyed that it wasn’t longer or that there wasn’t a whole lot more to read. He is dedicated to what he does and deserves what he has now. Anyone wanting a good read, the truth on the other side, a fellow opinion, or simply the fun of listening to an awesome writer and person, this is a great book for them. Another recommended book would be; Colby Buzzels; Lost in America, a Dead-End Journey. Also completely written in Colby’s voice, this is yet another amazing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is is funny and yet a serious account of a love life type of guy. I walked into bn looking for a good book.and i found it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I went into B&N looking for a good book to read. I bought this book not knowning it was going to be one of the best books ive ever read. Soldiers like Colby make me proud to be an american. I loved how he said what he felt and said what he thought and didn't care what anyone else thinks. Im glad taht i bought this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Often gritty but true to life tale of teenager coming of age and trying to find one's self in the ranks of the US Army Infantry. A personal perspective that can be appreciated by anyone enlisted the short tales of deadend jobs to boot camp, to his first unit and off to Iraq are priceless and too often humorous as Buzzell trys to find enlightenment in many tragic and often frustrating days in the combat zone. A great read and definitely recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really shows you the war that occuring in Iraq right now better than any of these documentaries on it.i couldnt put this thing down until i was done with it . I recomend it to anyone
Guest More than 1 year ago
couldn't put this book down - really gives you a view of what it's really like for these young soldiers & marines in Iraq.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When you read Colby Buzzell's book, it's just like you are there with him through all his experiences. It was so good that I had it read in just three days. He writes pretty much like the average guy talks - laced with profanity and all. That's why this book is so popular, because it is so down-to-earth. One guy and his story. But much of his experiences are just like ours. Drifting from one boring dead-end job to another for several years after high school, Buzzell surprises his parents (with whom he has lived off and on with during that time) by joining the army. If you've ever been in the military, then you will get a laugh out of his meeting with recruiters. Being a first-rate soldier is the first job he has ever taken seriously. He conscientiously reads his field manuals and learns how to be a gunner. After some quick training, his new experimental Stryker Brigade is deployed to Iraq. (The Stryker is an RPG/EID-resistant infantry combat vehicle that does indeed earn high praise from its users.) Buzzell then writes about his arrival in Kuwait, the drive up the highway of death to Baghdad, and then his unit deployment in Mosul. Most of the action takes place in Mosul, where his unit seems to drive around town trying to draw fire from insurgents. Some of his firefights are pretty intense - I couldn't put the book down then. This is real life, urban guerilla warfare - the kind of fighting most soldiers can expect to face in the future. He also talks with some of the local Iraqis and tries to get a feel for the actual situation of the civilians in Mosul. Apparently, the insurgents are often just angry, horny young muslim men trucked in from Iran and Syria looking to score their 70 virgins. All the while Buzzell is covertly writing and publishing his diary online under a pseudonym. But the word leaks out that he is the author and then the army decides to diplomatically but firmly clamp down on his online publishing activity. (Incidentally, I wonder that the military focuses so much effort on censorship instead of establishing a really effective secret police force to identify and detain the insurgents. I suppose they don't realize that many of the Iraqi officials are probably connected to the insurgents.) This is a great modern war diary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The content kept me turning pages. I am debating whether the book should have been polished up or left in its raw state. The flow felt like a car going from paved to bumpy dirty roads. There were moments that were genuinely funny that a non-medical reader would appreciate . And there are times where you really feel sad for a lot of people. I am glad to have read it, it was definitely a good read and recommend this to those who are interested in the military.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No text was provided for this review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book a few weeks ago, great purchase ever.. I am persuing a career in the US Air Force, and my recruitor told me about this book, never heard of it in my life. he told me to read it and then decide if it's still what i wanted to do, i have yet to finish the book, i work 2 jobs so reading time is hard but ive read the majority of it and so far it's an outstanding book! i've had the opportunity of talking to Mr.Buzzell personally through e-mail and he's a great all around guy! i'd say buy the book! you wont regret it :) -Crystal
Guest More than 1 year ago
Colby Buzzell's book is the best book I have ever read. I couldn't put this book down and I would get yelled at for reading in class constantly (go figure). Seriously, I read it back to back twice and will probably go through it again, it's that awesome. Gives true first hand perspectives of everything our soldiers are facing and is packed with action!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gread read, helps understand Americas youth and what is really going on over there. As for the generation fighting, we thought we ruined them, they are great kids and great Americans. Reading this helped me answer a lot of questions and doubts about the war and the media. Good luck and a great big Thank You to Colby and the all the soldiers. SBCT Mom - Crookie
Guest More than 1 year ago
Colby's book reached a place deep in my heart. He told of the human conflicts our men and women faced in the heat of the desert. I was able to see thru his words, the story my son, who is a soldier, could not share with me. The side the media may never understand. The book far surpassed the blog! I am waiting patiently for Colby's next book. CB rocks!