The forever war

by Dexter Filkins

Hardcover, 2008




New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.


A prizewinning "New York Times" correspondent chronicles a remarkable chain of events that begins with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continues with the attacks of 9/11, and moves on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Media reviews

New York Times correspondent Dexter Filkins has written a gripping book, rich in vivid vignettes of courage, chaos, service, depravity, and death. . . . Filkins highlights the murderousness of the Taliban, of the Baathists, of the jihadist terrorists who think of themselves as "forever" at war with the infidels.

User reviews

LibraryThing member TimBazzett
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Great writing about horrific stuff. First off, let me say Dexter Filkins is one helluva good writer. Secondly, I have to tell you that I could only read this book in small portions, a chapter or two at a time, and then put it aside for a time to digest the horror and near hopelessness of what he was describing about his several years - yes,YEARS - spent reporting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. During those months and years, Filkins made it a point to get to know the men and officers he worked with and wrote about them, unsentimentally, but still in ways that will break your heart. Here's a brief sample.

"Corporal Nathan Anderson was dead. He was a lanky kid from a small town in Ohio who was always taking his buddies' spare change to raise money for his sister's college tuition. Af few days before, after we'd run through machine-gun fire to cross 40th Street, Anderson had braved gunfire to go back and rescue his friends. Anderson's buddies did the same here, charging into the gunfire to get him. He'd died in their arms."

There are so many small stories of lives cut short here, they will make you weep. Cpl Romulo Jiminez, a hot rod fanatic from West Virginia, shot through the spine, dead. Sgt Lonny Wells, who loved to play poker and "knew all the probabilities," killed by gunfire crossing that same 40th Street. Cpl Gentian Marku, an Albanian immigrant who came to the US at 14, shot and killed on Thanksgiving day. I almost had to turn away as I read these short personal histories, but Filkins did his job; he told their stories.

"There wasn't any point in sentimentalizing the kids; they were trained killers, after all. They could hit a guy at five hundred yards or cut his throat from ear-to-ear. And they didn't ask a lot of questions. They had faith and they did what they were told and they killed people ... Out there in Falluja, in the streets, I was happy they were in front of me."

During his time in the wars, Filkins crossed paths with people you've read about in the newspapers - Paul Bremer, the various commanding generals who have come and gone in the two theaters of the "forever war" on terror. He even crossed the border into Iran and sat in on a meeting between Chalabi and Ahmadinejad. He takes you into the maze-like intricacies of intrigue and vengeance that are common in the tribal systems that have held sway in this region for centuries - things that western minds can simply not comprehend. He makes you feel the grime, the sweat, the unrelenting 100-plus degree heat that permeates everything - in Baghdad, Kabul, Kandahar and Ramadi. You will jog with Filkins along the Tigris river where he is pursued by packs of wild dogs and intimidated by Iraqi checkpoint guards - an insanely dangerous routine he can't seem to stop. Filkins put himself in harm's way repeatedly and always managed to narrowly avert capture and death, and not a few times because some young soldier saved him - at great sacrifice. He is still haunted by those times, and wonders if it was worth it, particularly when he is confronted by a woman who has just voted in the first democratic elections in Iraq -

"'I voted in order to prevent my country from being destroyed by its enemies,; she said ... What enemies, I asked ... 'You - you destroyed our country,' Saadi said. 'The Americans, the British. I am sorry to be impolite. But you destroyed ou country and you called it democracy. Democracy,' she said. 'It is just talking.' ... "

Filkins realizes with sadness that East does not meet West, that there is perhaps an uncrossable chasm between the two cultures that can never be bridged. THE FOREVER WAR is fine journalism, a book that should stand beside the works of Ernie Pyle and Bill Mauldin; a work to be shelved between Herr's Dispatches and O'Brien's The Things They Carried.
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LibraryThing member Wheatland
This is an outstanding collection of journalistic snapshots from the post-2001 wars, first in Afghanistan and then Iraq. Each chapter, or chapter section, relates a story or event in anywhere from three to a dozen pages. It's usually a war story in which the author figures personally, such as when accompanying US soldiers in combat, or interviewing politicians or combatants on all sides.

The writing is fluid, focused, and not overstated. The author rarely quotes himself in his interviews or descriptions but lets others supply the dialogue while he freely relates his own state of mind and feelings.This method seems to work well, and he does not use this book as a preaching platform. He also acknowledges that his conversations with Afghanis and Iraqis was almost always through intrepid and amazingly brave interpreters.

Not every episode or journalistic snapshot is dated in this book, nor are they presented sequentially, other than the ones involving Afghanistan appearing first. This timelessness, or absence of progressive narrative, is at times annoying, but it does contribute to the title's meaning--the war has been going on and on, and will continue to do so. Here the term "war" refers to the collection of actions and attitudes on the part of the US government that it calls the War on Terror.

There's a statement made at the beginning of the film, The Hurt Locker, that war is a drug. If so, it would seem to apply to the author, who stayed on in Iraq, year after year, outside the Green Zone, putting himself through one dangerous situation after another. In the book's final sentences the author obliquely refers to the costs he paid in weaning himself off this drug.
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LibraryThing member bruchu
The Immorality of War

If you read one book this year, Dexter Filkin's "Forever War" should be the one. Filkins has spent the past decade at the center of the two major conflict zones of this generation in Afghanistan and Iraq. To date, nobody has been able to capture the day to day events on the ground for the entire length of time as realistically as Filkins has done in "Forever War." It is truly a gem of a book.

As a journalist for the New York Times, Filkins is uniquely positioned to witness the barbarity of war first hand and put that experience onto paper like no one else can. When compared to Evan Wright's "Generation Kill," I think Filkins is more polished, more accomplished and therefore there is a profound sense of professionalism throughout that is sometimes laking in "Generation Kill."

The book is structured very much like a diary. Written in the first person, the stories are personal stories. Filkins writes about things that are happening to him and he mixes in some of the major news stories of both Afghanistan and Iraq such as John Walker Lindh, Jessica Lynch, the 4 contractors in Falluja, Nicholas Berg, or Jill Carroll.

We get more than just canned reports from being inside the Green Zone. Filkins tells us what's happening in the streets. For example, in Afghanistan he writes: "In my many trips to Afghanistan, I grew to adore the place, for its beauty and its perversions... I sat in a mud-brick hut near Bamiyan, the site of a gnawing famine, and a man and his family pressed upon me, their overfed American guest, their final disk of bread." (p. 24).

His selection of words, style of writing, its clear that Filkins is an accomplished writer in his own right. He writes: "So the war could go on forever. Men fought, men switched sides, men lined up and fought again. War in Afghanistan often seemed like a game of pickup basketball, a contest among frineds, a tournament where you never knew which team you'd be on when the next game got under way. Shirts today, skins tomorrow." (p 51). The writing is just so fluid, vivid, and ingenuousness. You can't help but stop, reread, and admire passages like that.

Another major coup for Filkins is his impartiality. That is no easy feat for an American, reporting on Americans in foreign lands, there is a built-in bias which is hard to get away from. Filkins shows everything, he gives you the raw data, and he lets you the reader decide what to think. Obviously he has his opinions, but he keeps them mostly close to the vest. I think the following passage captures his sentiments perfectly: "There were ugly moments and there were hopeful ones, and they made me wonder not only what the Americans were doing to Iraq, but what Iraq was doing to the Americans. The struggle for the country was mirrored in the hearts of the men." (p. 152).

The Battle of Falluja is one of the parts of the book (Chp Pearland) that will literally make you cringe. At times, the writing is so raw, unedited, and macabre you literally feel yourself inside the humvee, or on the street, or hunkered down behind a barricade. If there ever was a hell on earth, it certainly was Falluja in 2004.

Last but not least, the story of Jill Carroll's kidnapping, and specifically Filkins role in attempting to find her and secure her release is just the perfect story that symbolizes the complex underground labyrinth of Iraq at war. I can tell that Filkins still thinks about those days quite a bit.

I wouldn't be surprised if "Forever War" or portions of were made into a movie, or if it won the Pulitzer Prize, it really is that good. Filkins deserves every praise, every award for this incredible memoir.
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LibraryThing member KendraRenee
Filkins's book is not so much a coherent story as it is a collection of multiple and, at times, repetitive vignettes, designed to hammer home his main point to the reader: that THIS WAR IS COMPLICATED. My god I've never seen so much gray in my life as I did when reading this book. Filkins does a fabulous job of painting an accurate, depressing, nuanced picture of what's *really* going on over there. Recommend to anyone who wants the facts about America's 10 years of war-mongering in the Middle East.… (more)
LibraryThing member chosler
Read by Robertson Dean; Filkins, a correspondent for the New York Times, focuses on the human experience of war through a multitude of personal observations and intimate interviews with both participants and civilians. Beginning in Afghanistan in the mid 1990s and moving over to Iraq just prior to the U.S. invasion, he details the everyday lives of Afghanis and Iraqis, as well as American soldiers. He interviews insurgents, bystanders, and politicians. While commenting on the political reality of the situations he witnesses, Filkins eschews any sort of political agenda, painting all parties involved in both positive and negative lights, always highlighting the terrible physical, emotional, and moral toll these wars wreck on everyone. Of special interest are sections illuminating the lives of members of the press in Iraq, the decent into Shiite/Sunni civil war of occupied Iraq, and a concise history of the chain of brutal occupiers of Afghanistan, from the Soviets to the warlords to the Taliban. Dean does a remarkable job of voicing a myriad of regional accents without resorting to caricature, and of slipping from calm discussions of soldiers’ lives back home or political wrangling to urgent and extremely visceral narrations of combat or torture, often in the span of two paragraphs. His reading voice is deep and extremely nuanced. Constant and extremely graphic descriptions of violence to men, women, and children, including torture and suicide; non-stop explicit language; explicit descriptions of bodily functions.… (more)
LibraryThing member John
Filkins is a foreign correspondent who travelled widely and lived in Afghanistan and Iraq. This book describes his impressions of Afghanistan under the Taliban (from September 1998) through to their overthrow. But the bulk of the book is centred on his years in Iraq, monitoring, analyzing, reporting on events following the US invasion in 2003. Filkins is an astute observer and someone who tried to stay close the Iraqi people and what they were experiencing, rather than retreating into the Green Zone as the security situation grew more and more perilous.

The theme, the odour of violence pervades in both countries, but Filkin strives to see beyond that, to understand, and to see the goodness that does still exist. His description of Afghanistan under the Taliban: “The brutality one could witness in the course of a working day was often astonishing, the casualness of it more so; and the way that brutality had seeped into every corner of human life was a thing to behold. And yet somewhere, deep down, a place in the heart stayed tender.” And in Iraq: “Murder and torture and sadism: it was part of Iraq. It was in people’s brains.”

In Iraq, Filkins charts the mismanagement, the missed opportunities of the successful US invasion, the descent into chaos, political infighting, violence, and ethnic cleansing, and the increasing disconnect between two worlds:

“There were always two conversations in Iraq, the one the Iraqis were having with the Americans and the one they were having among themselves. The one the Iraqis were having with us—that was positive and predictable and boring, and it made the Americans happy because it made them think they were winning. And the Iraqis kept it up because it kept the money flowing, or because it bought them a little peace. The conversation they were having with each other was the one that really mattered of course. That conversation was the chatter of a whole other world, a parallel reality, which sometimes unfolded right next to the Americans, even right in front of them. And we almost never saw it.”

Barriers to understanding were everywhere: cultural, historical, political, social: “…for many Iraqis, the typical nineteen-year-old army corporal from South Dakota was not a youthful innocent carrying America’s goodwill; he was a terrifying combination of firepower and ignorance.” And yet, Filkins, who spent a good deal of time in combat with marines, has an abiding respect and caring for these young soldiers, thrown into impossible situations that they cannot fathom, exposed to very real danger and death, in a world where firepower trumps nuance every time to the detriment of relations with Iraqis, but where they will risk their lives for each other and then return home, dead or battered to grieving families in small towns.
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LibraryThing member choochtriplem
An in depth look of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq by the people who live it night and day. The author goes to great detail (and sometimes great danger) to recount the stories of local populations, soldiers, politicians and even insurgents and how the war has effected them and their lives. The author gets various opinions from all sorts of people all over the region. It is a wonderful way to examine not only how American's on the ground view the war, but also local Iraqi's and how the cope with their backyard being a constant war zone. I would suggest this book to whoever wants an un-biased view on either the war in Afghanistan or the war in Iraq.… (more)
LibraryThing member homan9118
The Forever War was an excellent, excellent, excellent book. It was not just an explanation of why the war in the Middle East is going on, but a first hand account of being over there as a reporter, and as a soldier. There are some very powerful passages. Highly recommended.
LibraryThing member DRFP
To be honest, on one level I'm a little disappointed with this book. The title, I thought, promised some sort of explanation as to why Iraq / Afghanistan and the entire war on terror is potentially a perpetual conflict America (or the West) could get bogged down in and one it will find very hard to win.

Filkins doesn't provide any analysis on that level. Nor does he bring much analysis to the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan besides some rather bland statements that things are tricky there because the people have been through a lot and naturally, as foreigners, they're not going to behave the same as we would.

Having said that and been disappointed with it, I still think this is a very good book. If you go into it just wanting snapshots of what these countries were like, from a reporter who spent years on the ground there, then you'll get a very satisfying account. Many of Filkins' vignettes are extremely sad and provide details of the minutiae of life in these countries that get glossed over in the news reports or column inches devoted to these conflicts.

So from that point of view I think this is an excellent book and one has to admire Filkins for putting himself in a lot of danger. It's just a shame the author couldn't draw some significant conclusions from everything he saw, instead of just relating the horrific events he witnessed. That would have made this a great book instead of just a good one.
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LibraryThing member kmmt48
The author had a great deal of experience reporting from Afghanistan and Irag and gives detailed insight into the local situation during his time in each war arena. A more personal account of the actual participants then can be gleaned from news accounts.
LibraryThing member bblum
It is time to get out of this mess. The Afghan War will never end and we are not helping. Filkens is an interesting an observant reporter and I may be reading my own biases into this book.
LibraryThing member emed0s
Filkins manages to give the reader, what it feels like, an insider's view of the war. He was in Afghanistan when it was ruled by the Taliban and not only reflects the well know atrocities but completes the gloomy picture with the stories of individual Afghans.

He was in Iraq and clearly depicts many views into the doings and misdoings of all sides, the Americans and the Iraqis and foreign fighters, from the Court Martial acts to the funny scenes and the Iranian links.… (more)
LibraryThing member norinrad10
If you read only one book about Afghanistan and Iraq this is it. The rare non-fiction that"ll make you want to cry. Strongly recommend.
LibraryThing member gregorybrown
Already, the Iraq War is fading from our memory. 2003 already seems in the distant past, and the withdrawal in 2011 is getting there. Still wrought with civil war, our attention has already shifted to other wars, both present and potential: Iran, Libya, Syria.

This amnesia should be surprising. the Vietnam War—a similar quagmire—traumatized the nation, and led to a suspicion of the military that only started to thaw by the time of Desert Storm. Yet there's one important difference: the draft is gone, and an all-volunteer army increasingly draws from rural and poor youth, all categories nearly invisible in the media. Rather than a shared sacrifice, war is increasingly waged using the unprivileged few.

This forgetting and ignorance, which had already started during the occupation itself, means the public isn't so easily soured by war—making books like The Forever War all the more crucial as reminders of just how crazy the times were. Crazy is almost a cruel way to describe the events, as that doesn't capture the very real suffering inflicted on all parties involved, but especially Iraqi civilians. For them there was no withdrawal coming, no salve to the daily reality of trying to balance the hope of collaboration with the sobering knowledge that it would make them a target for violence.

It's apt that the writing style reflects this craziness, a pointillist vision through dozens of discrete events, all adding together to chronicle the deeply dysfunctional occupation. At first, the institutional corruption and the violence are two separate problems. Before long, though, they merge: sectarian militias made official instruments of the state, carrying out civil war under police uniforms.

Filkins' book works because it captures the street-level degeneration, shows how the civilians are pulled between the will of the state and the much more dangerous will of the insurgency—or really, how that dichotomy is false, concealing a much more complex tug-of-war between powers, some clothed in official authority and others not. It's hard to go into much more detail, because in some sense this book is all detail; it resists summary, and therein is its power. Sorry if this sounds like a mess as a result.
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LibraryThing member nmele
Dexter Filkins has written a classic, a moving book about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, about the soldiers and civilians embroiled in the wars, and about what it means to be a journalist covering war. I came away impressed anew with the bravery of our young men and women who serve in the military, and I came away with a zeal to somehow find a way to channel that courage and energy into nonviolence. Stay tuned!… (more)
LibraryThing member Quickpint
This is a well-written book that sheds a huge amount of light on the Iraq occupation. Dexter Filkins was in-country for five years, and seems to have stayed mostly out of the Green Zone, thanks in no small part to the New York Times, which ran its bureau like a military compound, and hired a small private army. Despite this one imagines it took some degree of courage on the author’s part too, although he would probably frame his “risk-assessment” somewhat differently. Chiefly because of this, but also because of Filkins’ previous time in Afghanistan, it’s an invaluable text for anyone seeking an understanding of that time. I can tell you it is an infinitely superior work to anything written by British civil administrators in the CPA; Rory Stewart or Hilary Synnott, conceited British snobs who understood very little of what they saw.

It has unfairly but inevitably drawn comparisons with Herr’s Despatches. Despatches is a seminal but an entirely different work. Herr was present in a war that was saturated with media presence; Filkins in Iraq is a more solitary light. Also, Herr’s work is infused with introspection, and a weird kind of lyrical war-poetry. What Herr saw was not intrinsically important in terms of reportage, what Filkins saw is. There are stories and anecdotes in this book which will open your eyes. While he makes several stylistic nods towards Herr, Filkins has something else to bring to the table. He has more to focus on.

For all this it is still in parts an infuriating book. Filkins sees everything through American eyes, but this isn’t so terrible, because he never pretends not to. He wears his subjectivity on his sleeve. A review of The Forever War in the Herald argued it was refreshing to read a book on Iraq that wasn’t an argument, but there is an argument in this book, latently, or at least a tacit acceptance of the war as something without a moral dimension, as something that just happened, and that probably should have. There is too running through this the implication that the Iraq invasion wasn’t a moral disaster, that Islam has something dark and violent and its heart, that the Americans that fought there were making some kind of positive contribution.

Further, there is the old American insularity. There is far more scorn poured on the Iraqi people than on US soldiers. Political motivations back in Washington, George Bush, Bremer, American attitudes towards the Middle East and foreigners in general, these things aren’t mentioned at all. When, concluding, he talks of those Iraqis and Pakistanis lucky enough to come into the New York Times’ orbit, and thereby later get visas for America, his tone is slightly sickening. As if there was nothing really out there, beyond the borders of the States, no countries or cultures worth living in, nothing really to be built or saved. When he was in Iraq he might as well have been in outer space, he adds. I suspect Filkins’ social alienation post-Iraq is not just the trauma of coming back from a war zone, but also the sign of a huge cognitive dissonance. It will remain so until he figures out an argument he can live with.

As informative and competent as this book is, it’s probably best to accompany it with a more thoughtful analysis. I would recommend Jonathan Steele’s Defeat.
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LibraryThing member iftyzaidi
NYT journalist Dexter Filkins describes his experiences reporting from Afghanistan and Iraq over many years in a series of viginettes. Some reviewers have described this reporting without editorializing, but a more accurate description might be reporting without contextualizing, which can be a kind of editorializing in of itself. So for example, we get a series of viginettes from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, then one from ground-zero after 9/11, then more from Afghanistan once the regime is being toppled and then a shift to Iraq, where the rest of the book stays (except for a final more introspective chapter from Cambridge, Massachusetts after he has left the war zone). What the link between Iraq and 9/11 and Afghanistan is, and why the United States is engaged in a 'Forever War' there is really left to the reader to work out. Generally the on-the-ground reporting is very good, but for those who want a fuller overview of the post 9/11 wars, this should probably be read in conjunction with a different book… (more)
LibraryThing member Carl_Hayes
Grim, brutal and good. Filkins, who’s currently reporting for the NY Times in Afghanistan, gets you up close and personal with all the chaos and contradictions of that region, mostly focused on Iraq in the 3 years after the invasion. He certainly can’t escape his Western bias, but Filkins’ works hard to get both the official and unofficial versions from across the spectrum, and gains your trust (unlike some of his newspaper’s “reporting” during the lead up to the invasion). He also does a great job of dropping you in the middle of some really insane—and sometimes genuinely touching—moments, especially in Baghdad, where sectarian conflict (including various gang-style power grabs within religious/tribal groups) combined with American military operations against non-Iraqi jihad fighters turns that city into the stuff of nightmares. On that point, be prepared for frank descriptions of truly horrifying deeds of medieval-style violence.… (more)
LibraryThing member justindtapp
The Forever War is war as recorded in a journal. The best comparison I have to it are Thomas Goltz's books, but this is much less gory or political and more observational. Just stories, not always chronological.

Filkins spent years in Afghanistan and Iraq. He saw the ins and outs of both wars from the front lines and lived to tell the story. What he saw wasn't exactly the same thing that Americans wanted to see. For example, when 5,000 Marines assault a city where there is no running water, how do you use the bathroom? You kick down the doors random peoples' houses, or mosques and fill theirs to an overflowing mess.

"There were always two conversations in Iraq-- the one the Iraqis were having with the Americans, and the one the Iraqis were having among themselves."

Filkins saw throughout the Iraq war that U.S. troops and actions were overwhelmingly hated, even where they were glad to be rid of Saddam. Where there was cooperation with Americans to work, rebuild, police, etc., Iraqis took the money, did some work, and resented it. "Nobody likes being told what to do. The Americans are the occupiers." There was always an understanding that one day-- one way or another-- the Americans would leave, the sooner the better. The price they'd imposed outweighed the benefit, at least in the Iraqi's shortened lifetimes.

"I long ago quit believing that the Defense Department knew any better than I did."

It was never just Sunni vs. Shiite vs. Kurd (Kurds are hardly mentioned in the book), you have so many Arab tribes maintaining power and status in certain neighborhoods of certain cities. Mix in foreigners streaming in, criminals on the loose, people just looking for a quick buck through kidnapping, extortion, blood feuds demanding reprisals, etc. and you have a real mess.

This book makes me look at Bush's Decision Points (my review) differently, and more angrily-- even though I've already read Fiasco (my review) and other books on Iraq. I think President Bush's administration made the mistake of thinking democracy would heal all wounds--and quickly. Democracy (not to mention a free market) however, requires a level of trust that does not exist in many Arab countries at any level. An elected Shiite majority quickly settled scores with Sunnis, leading to outright civil war-- as Filkins documents the evidence of showing up slowly but surely.
How dumb were we to think this would all be over quickly or even be above 50% likely to turn out "well?" Filkins, by and large, isn't critical of the war-- he just observes events and conversations as they happen. He tells one poignant story of how he had to have a dealing with the CIA and reached a conclusion they were incompetent, when it turns out he was being duped by Iraqis he had long trusted and thought he was helping. He admits to his own ignorance.

For the first several chapters, I'd assumed Filkins spoke Arabic. He sometimes has quick conversations with a hostile crowd before diving back into his truck for safety. Later, he says he never learned Arabic and talks about the role of his translators. That takes some of the shine off the book, but not a lot. But I'm struck by how little anyone knows anything in these situations. After reading President Bush's Decision Points, it seems years later the attitude of Iraqis on the ground never really filtered up to him, or he doesn't fully believe the accounts of people like Filkins.

I did admire Filkins' courage in his forays into Afghanistan before the fall of the Taliban and the perspective it gave him when he was in New York for 9/11, and traveling along with the Northern Alliance immediately after 9/11 (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize). What's it like to be in a Syrian household, where your gracious host is ranting against American and pops in a videotape of an American being beheaded in Iraq, eagerly enjoying and praising it?

Filkins shows a very sensitive side. He records random encounters with children, while he's jogging, in stores, etc. He includes descriptions of the women and children he sees, as well as dogs and others, bringing the brutal human aspects of war home. He records the random conversations he has with the soldiers, and the difficult conditions. Filkins feels particularly responsible for one particular soldiers' death and meets with his parents when the battalion returns to the U.S. I hope his insurance pays for whatever counseling he most likely needs.
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LibraryThing member alexezell
You know what you're in for when you step into a book about the Iraq war after 9/11 written by a New York Times writer. It's going to be bleak, maybe a bit odd, and it's going to be fair. Filkins's book is all of that but what stands out to me is his deft pacing and striking language. While this could easily have devolved into a series of anecdotes, there are thematic guy wires helping the reader stay on course. There is darkness here. A lot of it. But there's just enough light and humor that the humanity doesn't disappear. There's also an adept sense that neither Filkins himself nor the Iraqis understand the disaster that befell that country in the wake of the US invasion. This book doesn't seek to explain or dissect but tells the story of the people involved and how they coped. A wonderful book full of honesty, humanity, and horror.… (more)
LibraryThing member TheBookJunky
A fast read. War reporting, from the ground, gives us a view from 6 feet, and sometimes at 3 feet when they’re crouching to dodge the snipers. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nothing new or unexpected, but gripping nonetheless.
LibraryThing member marshapetry
It was good, I think maybe my rating is an aberration. I started the book thinking that this was a book from a soldier's point of view and continuously kept wondering how this guy could walk out of situations he didn't like or want to be in. Finally I reread and found the sentence where he talks about photojournalism. Still, it was just "good" not fabulous. A long long story of tidbits of the author's experiences in occupation zones and war zones, but not a lot of character death.

The audiobook narrator was great and I do recommend this for anyone wanting to get smatterings of the Iraq wars and occupations. I'm more of a goal oriented reader so maybe that's why I liked it less.
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LibraryThing member Sadia.Tasleem
LibraryThing member dbeveridge
Vietnam was still fresh when I read Dispatches by Michael Herr. The intimacy and immediacy and apparent formlessness of the book unsettled me, but of course it felt like Vietnam, dark and frightening, shifting and hard to pin down. And now Dexter Filkins has done the same for this too too similar war. I find this even better and more compelling than Dispatches. Is that because I'm thirty years older and know more of the world? Whatever the reason, this is wonderful reporting, painful, brutal and ultimately frustrating as the war it tries to describe.… (more)



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