“As of today, 6,845 Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and over 900,000 Americans have been injured in both wars…According to the Pentagon,than half to twothirds of Americans killed or wounded in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been victims of IED explosions As stated in The International Business Times, we’ve reached a ‘grim milestone’ after two failed wars…” – H.A Goodman, The Huffington Post A few days ago, I was keyed up to finally start reading Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel, only to read in the foreword that it’s actually a sequel to the book The Good Soldiers I did what any ordinary reader would do: I slammed the book shut and immediately purchased the latter book It was imperative that I start at the beginning.Finkel, a reporter for The Washington Post, deploys with the Second Battalion, Sixteenth Infantry regiment of eight hundred soldiers out of Fort Riley, Kansas under the leadership of U.S Army lieutenant colonel, Ralph Kauzlarich, in early April of 2007 Their assignment: be the face of the new direction the Bush administration was taking with the “war on terror,” by counterinsurgency tactics that would help the Iraqi people become independent, and stand on their own two feet.“The thing is, he and his battalion weren’t even supposed to be here, and that’s one way to consider everything that was about to happen…”This book was amazing! No lie I feel ashamed to admit that although I am a WWI and WWII walking encyclopedia, I know virtually nothing about many of the wars following that, especially the one that began my senior year in high school Many of my classmates enlisted, and two months after graduation, a guy from our graduating class was one of the first group of casualties in Afghanistan His picture was all over the national news; it was eerie To think of it now, it seems so long ago He was only eighteen, and that’s what was so heartbreaking I don’t think he realized what he’d gotten himself into “What about the youngest soldier in the battalion, who was only seventeen? ‘Roger that,’ he said, whenever he was asked if he was ready, but when rumors about the deployment first began to circulate, he had taken aside his platoon sergeant, a staff sergeant named Frank Gietz, to ask how he’d be able to handle killing someone ‘Put it in a dark place while you’re there,’ Gietz had said So was a seventeenyearold ready?” The same can be said of the majority of the soldiers rounding out the 216 battalion–most were between the ages of nineteen and twenty, not even old enough to legally drink Some had hurriedly married girlfriends a few days before deployment, while other tenured family men said goodbye to wives and children and headed back to second or third tours Sent to eastern Iraq where Shia militants were running rampant, they had their work cut out for them from the get go.As Finkel ran through each month of the fifteen month deployment, my heart would race like crazy Each patrol run, explosion, death, injury, and house search had me biting my nails and nearly pulling my hair out Who would be the next casualty? Who would be injured by an IED? Would the mortar attacks on the base ever stop? I really felt like I was there with these men Dusty, tired, scared, suffering shock, and the loss of friends and “brothers in arms.” It was such an emotional read Clearly the war we hear about on the news is a whole other war for those actually fighting it It’s not entirely black and white, and throughout the year, each soldier’s optimism and endurance is tested None of them would return as they’d left “Is war supposed to be linear? The movement from point A to point B? The odyssey from there to here? Because this wasn’t any of that any The blur was the linear becoming the circular.” There was one injured soldier’s story that just made me bawl I was heaving, it was such an emotional passage What’s interesting is at the war front, although missing many limbs and being burned throughout most of his body, he manages to survive long enough to be air transported back to the States for treatment His survival seems like a success–he didn’t die Back home at a state of the art hospital for “Wounded Warriors,” Kauzlarich has a chance to visit with the soldier and his family four months after the attack What he witnesses is the reality of life after the war The final words of the book were so perfect, and a natural introduction to the sequel: “’The war’s over for you, my friend,’ Kauzlarich said now to Showman, and of all the things he had ever said, nothing had ever seemed less true.” It was the lastchance moment of the war In January , President George W Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq He called it the surge “Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not Well, here are the differences,” he told a skeptical nation Among those listening were the young, optimistic army infantry soldiers of the , the battalion nicknamed the Rangers About to head to a vicious area of Baghdad, they decided the difference would be themFifteen months later, the soldiers returned home forever changed Pulitzer Prizewinning Washington Post reporter David Finkel was with them in Bagdad, and almost every grueling step of the wayWhat was the true story of the surge? And was it really a success? Those are the questions he grapples with in his remarkable report from the front lines Combining the action of Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down with the literary brio of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, The Good Soldiers is an unforgettable work of reportage And in telling the story of these good soldiers, the heroes and the ruined, David Finkel has also produced an eternal tale—not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time As much as I liked this book, I hated it, too You see, my husband was in the same brigade as 216 He was not at FOB Rusty, but at another FOB as part of the surge We haven't talked much about what he saw during his two deployments He isn't an infantryman, never has had to patrol, etc However, he had to go outside the wire, as any and all soldiers are wont to do Until this book, I could never imagine what that entailed My heart breaks for the soldiers of 216 The ones who were killed and their families, the ones who were injured and their families, the ones who came home and their families My heart breaks for every soldier who knows the horrors of war and for the families that must deal with the aftermath of it PTSD is real And it's awful.I would like to thank Mr Finkel for including pictures of the fallen soldiers of 216 I was on the receiving end of many emails with their names; now I have faces to go with those names Before my husband deployed, I was given a disk with the photos of all his soldiers I put it away the very day I got it, praying none of those pictures would ever need to be pulled of a disk I think every American, hawk or dove, should read this book If we are going to be a country willing to go to war, we need to be educated about what war costs.God Bless the Rangers of 216, past, present and future God bless the United States Army And God bless America. Up close and personal, The Good Soldiers is a brutal, bloody, real portrait of contemporary war, complete with excrementfilled trenches, good intentions, too many severed human parts, and some questionable leadership It is as disturbing as it is informative What did the surge in Iraq look like from the inside? How do you get the locals to trust you? How do you patrol an area when your vehicles are constantly being blown up by IEDs and other deadly devices? How do you sustain an optimistic outlook when there is so much cause for despair? David Finkel follows the exploits of the 216 Battalion through one year of the socalled “surge.” From their first days in country through the travails of trying to keep the peace in their section of the city, to coping with the deaths of battalion soldiers to their return home He looks primarily at the experience of the soldiers We get a sense of what it must be like to be deployed in this war zone The book is filled with the many details that show the reality of the soldiers’ lives Finkel leaves the battlefield long enough to show us the soldiers at home on leave, and what their families at home experience during their absence He also takes us to a Texas hospital where the worst injured are tended That may be the most horrific part of the book Bring your hankies One small quibble is that I wished the book had a glossary I did become a bit lost with all the acronyms.The book’s flap copy claims that this is reminiscent of Mark Bowden’s BlackHawk Down and Tim O’Brien’s The Things they Carried Both references are apt I would add Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War to that list The Good Soldiers is topnotch reportage by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist about the reality on the ground and the human cost of the Iraq War. My goodnessthis book was just incredible!It's incredible that most if the soldiers in this story areaged between 19 and 22 years of age!It's incredible that so many died in such a horrible way!It's incredible that so may were horrendously injured andare on this day still young men and trying to deal withloss of limbs and brain injuries!It's incredible that so many avoided physical injury andare still young men trying to deal with post traumaticstress disorder!It's incredible the ones who maybe don't seem physicallyor mentally damaged have to try to build their normallives again!At the end of this book there are photos of each soldier who died.They all look about the same age as my son's.There are so many heartbreaking parts in this book.This is the most real and immediate depiction of modern war I have ever read.My review doesn't do it justice at all but I had to write something. Dear Goodreads Web Designer:Your star rating system needs a new button Perhaps completely off the scale, a little red x labeled fucking painful, read it anyway Or something along those lines Sincerely, KateI didn't like this book I don't think anyone could like such a bloody first hand look at an army regiment in Baghdad during the Surge This is a very painful account, which makes me credit and also dislike it Because any nonsociopath reading about the gazebo at the Brooke Army Medical Center where the mothers of injured soldiers gather when they can't sleep at four in the morning after a day spent listening to an injured son's screams at his own amputation will know this needs to stop And it does It really, really does The trouble is, declaring victory and bringing everybody home right this second which is what Finkel clearly advocates, is not a strategically intelligent choice Iraq sucks, but we broke it so maybe we do have an obligation to fix it I don't know It's a hard story, no happy ending, and the only slightly good one involves soldiers coming home alive without Muqtada alSadr having enough power to become the next Muammar alGaddafi. Some of you may remember the book Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green where I started a blog comment war with a friend of the author I just couldn't stand the attitude of the writer and didn't believe that it was a true memoir I just didn't think that the war in Afghanistan was really what he said So I wasn't looking forward to reading this novel by a Pulitzer Prize winning author, because I figured it would be another liberal take on why war is bad.But, oh, I was wrong This is one of the finest pieces of war journalism I have ever read I cried, I laughed, and I felt like I was truly in the head of the commander of the Second Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment of the U.S Army Finkel was with the unit from the start of their fifteenmonth tour in Kansas to their homecoming The chapters were headed with quotes from President Bush, as the battalion helped enforce The Surge in Iraq Their biggest enemy? IEDs The 216 is constantly attacked on patrols and always on the lookout for explosives The photographs throughout the book bring the reader closer to the soldiers.Mr Ogle took the book to read and I can't wait to hear his perspective since he served a tour in Iraq a few years ago. He pulled a piece of copper shrapnel out from the webbing of his fingers He wore a short sleeve shirt to show off the zigzag scars along his arms He popped a fake eye made to look like the crosshairs of a rifle scope into his hollow eye socket He said, “I want people to know the price of war” (210) This is just one of the wounded soldiers David Finkel writes about in his brutal but compelling book The Good Soldiers The book chronicles the troops of the 216, one of the battalions who served in Iraq as part of the surge of 2007.Finkel tells their stories honestly and compassionately, without a trace of political agenda This is not a book about whether the war is just or not; it’s about the people who fight, live and die in this combat zone and their families back home It has been compared to the writing of Tim O’Brien; in fact, Finkel himself has admitted to being somewhat influenced by O’Brien’s attention to the human story Finkel’s work superbly follows in this vein.While reading, I often found myself staring off in numbed silence at the atrocities these soldiers endured daily I stared when one soldier carried his wounded friend out of harm’s way while the blood from the wounded soldier ran into his mouth I stared when another soldier avoided all of his platoon mates because “he didn’t want any soldier asking him how it felt to kill another human being” (119) I stared when Duncan Crookston battled to survive an explosion that took both his legs, his arm, his eyesight, and burned nearly his entire body I also stared when months later he lost his battle.Regardless of your stance on the war, we can all recognize the human element, both tragic and heroic, that runs through this book More so, it is the height of self indulgence as a citizen to not be aware of what these soldiers face every day David Finkel has given us the opportunity to rid ourselves of ignorance I suggest we take it. This is a not book about platoon level combat despite what the book blurb says It is a book about soldiers, Iraqis, others getting blown up, maimed, shot, killed, ruined without any overarching theme or story other than it is due to the surge Here is a journal entry from one of “The Good Soldiers”, which pretty much sums up the tone of the entire book “I’ve lost all hope I feel the end is near for me, very, very near.Day by day my misery grows like a storm, ready to swallow me whole and take me to the unknown Yet all I can fear is the unknown.Why can’t I just let go, and let it consume me Why do I fight so hard, just to be punished again and again, for things I can’t recall? What have I done? I just can’t go on any with this evil game.Darkness is all I see any.”If you are in need of a depressing story, then this is the perfect book to read Nothing good occurs, only death and destruction I don’t feel qualified to speak about this book, I wasn’t there I’d be interested in what members of 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division have to say about it I did not learn much about the surge in Iraq from this book This is the type of book I expected from the Washington Post/New York Times reporter pool. My son was in this battalion and is an admirer of the battalion commander, Col K as everyone calls him I had heard many of the stories in this book but not in their totality David Finkel has written an intense, compelling, and emotional account that succeeds in covering the war on so many facets simultaneously: strategic, operational, tactical, homefront, and the Iraqi perspective as well A map would have been nice but this was not an account written to stop and reference maps, but to be read and felt Every chapter has a chronologically correct statement from President Bush about the war We read what is happening at home with the wives and in the hospitals where the severely wounded are recovering We also learn about the Iraqis who work as translators for the battalion We follow the soldiers home on leave from the war zone It's the story of this battalion, its commander, some officers, and those wounded and killed during an extended deployment who just kept on giving and doing their duty This book to quote Col K's motto, it's all good.