Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Last True Story

The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq has seen good reviews from most, but I wasn't as impressed. It begins with author John Crawford complaining that his National Guard unit was called up one semester before he was set to graduate and while he was on his honeymoon. I don't know about most people, but I've been aware that if you sign up with the National Guard, thinking you're signing up to get tuition benefits, there is the chance that you will be called up to serve (most of the time in a war you don't agree with). I'm afraid this affected my attitude as I read the rest of the book.

But I did feel for him as he was separated from his wife and as he told stories of relationships that ended in divorce while husbands were serving overseas apart from families for a year or more. He accounts life in Baghdad as we may not have heard from the nightly news: insufficient body amour, homesick soldiers, life always on guard, extreme weather, recreational use of prescription drugs and alcohol, grizzly things they are asked to do, and the people they are to protect.

But throughout the book it appears that Crawford has no agenda, but to reveal to us what he and others experienced in Iraq (of course in the most crude language possible) and to make sure we know that he wants nothing more to do with the United States Army.

Despite my feelings for this book, Crawford's story continues increase my gratitude for the men and women who serve in the armed forces and my support our troops, whether or not I agree with the tasks they've been sent to do.

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