Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Very Short Review

I just finished reading The Forever War, by New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins.  Filkins' book is a series of ground-level personal war experiences, primarily focused on Iraq from the invasion through 2006 or so.  There is also a section about Afghanistan in 1999, while still under Taliban control.  The book is not a cohesive narrative, but rather a series of snapshots.  There is very little if any editorializing by Filkins. He just tells what he saw and did and leaves the reader to interpret what, if any, meaning to draw from his experiences.

I've read innumerable military histories, memoirs, battlefield accounts, and examples of military reporting.  And I was prepared to be highly skeptical of anything written by an NYT reporter, when I checked this book out of my local library.  But I found it difficult to put down, and read the whole thing yesterday.  The overall impression it left on me was that Iraq is a real hellhole. Granted, it isn't a picture of Iraq after the surge, but it gives you a great look at the conditions our forces have had to deal with for most of the war. The only criticism I have is that the book is somewhat disjointed, and jumps from one thing to another.  And to be pedantic, his couple of references to the Dragunov sniper rifle as "Dragonoff" irritated me.  But trivial criticisms aside, I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Iraq War.

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