“To those trained in Explosive Ordinance Disposal, the last-resort tactic for defusing bombs is known as the Long Walk: a soldier dealing with the device up close, alone, with no margin for error.” Brian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East, two of them as the commander of an Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit in Iraq where he earned a Bronze Star. He speaks with candor about the excruciating trauma of war, the daily battles against a constant and unknown hidden danger, the likelihood of death around every corner, and finally his return home to his wife and family.
Robert Gates provides a thorough, no-holds-barred accounting of his 4 ½ years as Secretary of Defense – 2 years under George Bush and 2 ½ years under Barack Obama. I was most interested to read his thoughts about our current president and, potentially, a future president (Hilary Clinton). Although Gates and Obama had their differences, he describes Obama as “presidential,” a man of personal integrity with whom he developed a strong relationship, one in which they “largely saw eye to eye”.
Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel is a deeply moving look at the wounded bodies and scarred psyches of the men who return home after modern-day combat. In the author’s previous book, The Good Soldiers, he was embedded with soldiers during the surge of deployments in 2007-08. Now, he’s following them home to record their struggles with finding and keeping jobs, post-traumatic stress disorder, and rehabilitating their wounds. Without inserting himself into the story
I had to read this book twice to grasp its power. In its richness, it honestly deserves a third reading. The book jacket describes The Yellow Birds as "…the unforgettable story of two soldiers trying to stay alive." And it is that, but it’s also, and I would argue even more so, a cautionary tale.