Summary and book reviews of Redeployment by Phil Klay

Redeployment

By Phil Klay

Redeployment
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2014,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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About this Book

Book Summary

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 Morturary 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.

Excerpt
Redeployment

We shot dogs. Not by accident. We did it on purpose, and we called it Operation Scooby. I'm a dog person, so I thought about that a lot.

First time was instinct. I hear O'Leary go, "Jesus," and there's a skinny brown dog lapping up blood the same way he'd lap up water from a bowl. It wasn't American blood, but still, there's that dog, lapping it up. And that's the last straw, I guess, and then it's open season on dogs.

At the time, you don't think about it. You're thinking about who's in that house, what's he armed with, how's he gonna kill you, your buddies. You're going block by block, fighting with rifles good to 550 meters, and you're killing people at five in a concrete box.

The thinking comes later, when they give you the time. See, it's not a straight shot back, from war to the Jacksonville mall. When our deployment was up, they put us on TQ, this logistics base out in...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How did Phil Klay's choice of first person narration affect your reading experience?

  2. What did you think of his use of various, and quite different, narrators?

  3. How did the lack of Iraqi voices in these stories add to or detract from your reading experience?

  4. In what ways did knowing Klay is a former marine who served in Iraq inform your understanding of, and emotional connection to, these stories? How might your reading experience have been different if he had not served?

  5. What do you think Phil Klay achieved by writing short stories instead of a novel?
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Reviews

BookBrowse

In choosing fiction, Klay had greater creative liberty, and in using short stories, he had the advantage of still greater variety – in locales, points of view and of course, characters. Redeployment communicates powerfully, articulating the experience of war from a diversity of viewpoints. Because of this wide angle view, it seems like it should be required reading before any recruit becomes a grunt.   (Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. [Klay] has parlayed his insider's knowledge of soldier-bonding and emotional scarring into a collection that proves a powerful statement on the nature of war, violence, and the nuances of human nature.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Klay brilliantly captures the alternating terror and banality of modern war in details such as soldiers who relax by playing video games after returning to their quarters from a patrol. Harrowing at times and blackly comic at others, the author's first collection could become for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts what Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is for the Vietnam War.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A no-nonsense and informed reckoning with combat.

Author Blurb Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
Klay's writing is searing and powerful, unsparing of its characters and its readers, art made from a soldier's fearless commitment to confront those losses that can't be tallied in statistics... these stories demand and deserve our attention.

Author Blurb Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
Phil Klay's stories are tightly wound psychological thrillers. The global wars of our last decade weave in and out of these affecting tales about characters who sound and feel like your neighbors... It's a thrill to read a young writer so brilliantly parsing the complexities and vagaries of war. That he does so with surgical precision and artful zest makes this a must-read.

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A Brief History of the United States Marine Corps

Phil KlayRedeployment author Phil Klay's service as a Marine made him part of what is arguably the most revered part of the United States military. The Corps is not technically a branch of the U.S. military, but is a special service affiliated with the Navy. The Army was established by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775 and the Navy on October 13, 1775. The Marine Corps began as a naval infantry by order of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775 when volunteers responded to the recruiting call at taverns around Philadelphia. The owner of Tun Tavern, Robert Mullan, was one of the first to accept the call and his establishment is now affectionately known as the birthplace of the Marine Corps. Service members designated as Marines ...

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