Jarhead meets Redeployment in a suspenseful and smart fiction debut that has been called "thrilling, tragic, and darkly funny" by National Book Award-winning author Phil Klay.
The US military is preparing to withdraw from Iraq, and newly-minted lieutenant Jack Porter struggles to accept how it's happening - through alliances with warlords who have Arab and American blood on their hands. Day after day, Jack tries to assert his leadership in the sweltering, dreary atmosphere of Ashuriyah. But his world is disrupted by the arrival of veteran Sergeant Daniel Chambers, whose aggressive style threatens to undermine the fragile peace that the troops have worked hard to establish.
As Iraq plunges back into chaos and bloodshed and Chambers's influence over the men grows stronger, Jack becomes obsessed with a strange, tragic tale of reckless love between a lost American soldier and Rana, a local sheikh's daughter. In search of the truth and buoyed by the knowledge that what he finds may implicate Sergeant Chambers, Jack seeks answers from the enigmatic Rana, and soon their fates become intertwined. Determined to secure a better future for Rana and a legitimate and lasting peace for her country, Jack will defy American command, putting his own future in grave peril.
Pulling readers into the captivating immediacy of a conflict that can shift from drudgery to devastation at any moment, Youngblood provides startling new dimension to both the moral complexity of war and its psychological toll.
The alarm sounded through the still of the outpost. If I'd been dreaming, I'd already forgotten what about. I turned off the alarm and hopped down from the top bunk. It was another day. We'd been in-country five months, and hadn't even been shot at yet.
"Yo," I said. "The Suck awaits." The only response came from an industrial fan whirring in a dark corner. None of the bodies in the other beds bothered to move. As deceitful as time could be in a room without windows, my sergeants always seemed to know when they had another twenty minutes.
I shook out my boots to make sure a scorpion hadn't crept into them during the night. It hadn't happened to anyone yet, but still, there were stories. After knotting the laces and pulling on my fleece top, I walked through the dim and opened the door to the hallway. The platoon's interpreter was waiting there under a yellow ceiling panel, holding two cups of coffee. He was just a blurry shadow for a few...
Whatever your feelings are about the Iraq war, Gallagher presents a lot to think about and see from the perspective of one brave man just trying to make it through to the end of the occupation. As more and more literature inspired by the Iraq War emerges, Youngblood will remain one of the leading lights in helping us see more of what happened in those years.
(Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).
Full Review (692 words).
"The chow hall was a big white magnet north of the shopping gulch, a massive canopy that seemed to hover over the pale sands. Part circus tent, part martial pretense, it was ringed by blast walls and protected by counterbattery radar. It could serve over a thousand soldiers at a time and up to fifteen thousand a day, not including the ones who gorged at the nearby fast-food shacks." From Youngblood by Matt Gallagher
Nose around on Google enough when looking for information about U.S. Army mess halls (although the term these days is dining facility), and you'll soon find a 2007 Army pamphlet called "Operating Procedures for the Army Food Program." For this civilian, the jargon within, and the acronyms, and the dozens upon ...
If you liked Youngblood, try these:
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.
Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's heartbreaking and haunting novel, The Watch, takes a timeless tragedy and hurls it into present-day Afghanistan, giving us a gripping tour through the reality of this very contemporary conflict, and our most powerful expression to date of the nature and futility of war.
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