Read a really terrific, absorbing and impossible to forget book on the plane back to Florida.
David Finkel, a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer for The Washington Post, spent nearly a year embedded with the Second Battalion, 16th Infantry regimen of Army soldiers in Iraq, a group specifically sent there as part of “the surge” in 2007. The book is called “The Good Soldiers,” and I could not recommend it highly enough.
Finkel, a fantastic reporter with excellent eye for detail, introduces us to a colorful cast of characters, led by Ralph Kauzlarich, the man in charge who leads frightened but cocky young men through some of the horrors of war.
There are so many great parts of this book; the scenes of battle are great, sure, but it’s the little things, like the emails from the soldiers’ wives back home, and the harrowing aftermath of the wounded back in America, struggling to survive in VA hospitals, that really pierced my heart.
Finkel draws such wonderful portraits of his subjects, kids like Jay March, hot-tempered but scared inside, and a remarkable Iraqi interpreter named Izzy, that you find yourself rooting for them intensely, and when one of your favorites dies, even though you know they’re in a war, it comes as a shock. (I actually whispered “No!” out loud when one of my favorites died; the woman in the seat next to me looked at me weird).
It’s as good as war book as I’ve ever read, right up there with Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and Dexter Filkins’ “The Forever War.”
Here’s the New York Times review of the book when it first came out.
Go get it at the library or buy it here. You’ll thank me.
And you’ll never forget the men of the 2:16.
**Ah, this made laugh. The Portland Timbers are a soccer team in Major League Soccer. They have a mascot called “Timber,” who’s really just a scaring-looking dude in a funky helmet.
Anyway, Timber’s job, after each Portland goal, is to take the chainsaw he carries, walk over to this huge hunk of wood behind the field, and slice a big log off while the crowd goes wild.
Let’s see: A man with a giant chainsaw slicing logs with 30,000 fans in the crowd. What could possibly go wrong here?
I’m sure they have plenty of insurance for Timber in case, you know, wood chips start flying like projectiles into the crowd.
**Watched the Rangers pathetic offense get only 22 shots on the Washington Capitals Friday night. Watched the Caps score twice. My Blueshirts now have one lousy goal in two games. To paraphrase Bob Uecker in “Major League,” one goddamn goal??? Hey Marian Gaborik, how much money are you getting from the Rangers and you’re doing nothing? Just wondering.
Ugh. Two more games and the Caps put the Rangers out of their misery. No, I’m not totally giving up. But the fat lady is in her dress and waiting for her cue.