After reading a book recommended by one of my GR friends, I sometimes go back and read their review to see if it is close to what I'm thinking about the book.
I did that, reading my friend Jeff Keeten's The Yellow Birds
review this morning (for the second time) and again read every one the 56 comments. The comments ranged from questions about the war in Iraq, slight comparisons to the Vietnam War and opinions in general on how we got into the Iraq War. Excellent review by Jeff and excellent comments. But take a cup of coffee with you.
Books about war are not on my "must read" list since I am clearly a pacifist. (Def: 1.
The belief that disputes between nations should and can be settled peacefully. 2.
a. Opposition to war or violence as a means of resolving disputes. b. Such opposition demonstrated by refusal to participate in military action.)
My conviction comes from having so many men friends from high school come back from the Vietnam War mentally maimed, with two killing themselves. As decades passed I saw America enter too many conflicts unnecessarily with the Iraq War being the most obvious.
However, I felt a necessity and made a personal challenge to read at least one book about this war and with Jeff's high praise I put it on my must read list.
Recently at the library, I saw it on the "Two Week" shelf which means it's a recent addition to the library, so I grabbed it. I'm not sure had it not been there that I would have hunted it down to read.
As Jeff mentioned, passages in the book were poetic and for good reason; the author Kevin Powers is a poet first and foremost. At times, well, many times, I found those passages simply too long, too descriptive, too full of adjectives. I found the book heavy on lyrical descriptions and light on dialog and I love dialog.
Perhaps it should it have been marketed as a memoir? The story was fiction but events in Powers' tour of duty in Mosul and Tal Afar as a machine gunner must have been some basis for the powerful story told in this book.
And yes, it was
a powerful story but one that took (for me) much too long to tell. My reading patience without dialog just carries me so far. I found myself thinking "Only 75 more pages to go." That is not how I like to read a book. But, of course, some readers would love it, no question. Read Jeff's review.
But now I can say that I have read a book about the Iraq War and I'm glad I did and I'm glad I finished.
I cannot read many books that are that sad and disturbing about what I consider a senseless war that one Goodreads reviewer called "Daddy's War." I agreed and wish I had said that.
And I still feel ashamed that the American people were duped into a war which killed and maimed so many young Americans. President of the United States, President George Bush, in 2002 lied to the America people. I believe our involvement in Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
After weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, I did nothing but storm around the house. What was there to do except vote? But I still carry some guilt because I did nothing; my job wouldn't even allow me to write a letter to the editor much less physically protest in any way.
So there. I said it all, I am a pacifist. I hate war. And I did nothing in 2002 to protest our involvement. Yes, I'll always carry some of that guilt.
Please, my apology if some of this is repetitive.
This was my comment April 9, 2013, on Jeff's review:
"Unfortunately, I can't read much about war; much to depressing and makes me sad. I simply hate war and this war more than others because it was so senseless. The thought of sending our kids, our future, to kill or be killed, disturbs me to the core."