"We shot dogs."
Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.
In Redeployment, a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Mortuary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains — of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming.
Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.
I don't think I would have ever picked this book ever, no really, ever. So why did I come to read this? Well listen, I audio-booked this one. I've decided to try and challenge myself to read as many books from The Tournament of Books this year. What is this Tournament I speak of? Glad you asked! The "TOB" (as the followers like to call it) is the nerdy/bookish version of those sports brackets everyone likes to annoy you about at work. If you're like me, you roll your eyes and ignore the shenanigans during the month of March. Instead, I sit at my computer and follow the "TOB" which gives me that same crazy gleam in my eye BUT it's all about BOOKS instead of balls. So... if you love books, competition and reading out of your comfort zone, I suggest checking out the tournament. This is the first year I'm actively trying to read more books from the short list, so this should be fun!
Enough with the rambling. I've established this isn't something I would ever pick up. I want that to be known, mostly to give you a little understanding behind my "so-so" rating of three stars. Klay can write, without a doubt. I even enjoyed (5 star enjoyed) at least three of the stories from this collection. Those stories didn't hit home or give me a feeling of relatability but they did touch my heart and/or cause me some form of distress over the emotional charge behind them. The ones I enjoyed, I really enjoyed. My favorite had to be the one about the priest, for some reason that story stuck with me until the end. Since I audio-booked this, I can't really recall the titles of the stories for you, sorry. I would say the other stories drifted between "hmm, this is interesting" and yawn inducing war jargon. That war speak, gets me every time... I start to nod off then shake my head awake wondering what just happened. So to be honest, this book is probably for someone else but I'm still glad I read it. I feel a little more connected with the knowledge of what someone going through the recent wars feels like. I think it's important that we have a book like this and that it does get recognized. I completely understand why it made the tournament short list and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in getting into the head of a soldier.
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