Reviews of All the Ruined Men by Bill Glose

All the Ruined Men

Stories

by Bill Glose

All the Ruined Men by Bill Glose X
All the Ruined Men by Bill Glose
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Aug 2022, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Peggy Kurkowski
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About this Book

Book Summary

For readers of Phil Klay, Kevin Powers, and Tim O'Brien: Dramatic, powerful, authentic short stories of soldiers fighting a "forever war," in combat and back home.

Combat takes a different toll on each soldier; so does coming home. All the Ruined Men by Bill Glose comprises linked stories that show veterans struggling for normalcy as they grapple with flashbacks, injuries (both physical and psychological), damaged relationships, loss of faith, and loss of memory. Beginning in 2003, All the Ruined Men spans ten years, from the confident beginning of America's "forever war" to the confusion and disillusionment that followed.

As a former paratrooper and Gulf War veteran, author Bill Glose is closely bound to these stories. Drawing from his own experiences and military knowledge, Glose presents a cast of complex and sympathetic characters: young men who embraced what seemed like a war of just cause, who trained and fought and lived and died together, and who have returned to families, wives, children, civilian life, and an America that has lost its way.

Unforgettable, moving, filled with moments of anguish, doubt, love, hope, and other emotions, All the Ruined Men is a singular debut collection.

In the Early, Cocksure Days

IRAQ, 2003

Fastened to the dash of the jingle bus with a double loop of soft wire, a transistor radio plays reedy, atonal music. The wailing reminds Staff Sergeant Berkholtz of a kazoo, but he can't say that to the Iraqi driver. That's one of the cultural insensitivities S2 briefings had warned him to avoid. Along with touching a woman, drawing Mohammed, drinking alcohol—prohibition stacked upon prohibition like sandstone blocks of a pyramid.

Once a competitive bodybuilder, Berkholtz is the only one in the squad with bulk. While his thick torso tapers to a perfect V, the others are lean and knotted with muscle, perfect builds for soldiers required to hump forty-to-fifty pounds of gear into battle on their backs. Sitting sideways in the front seat, Berkholtz eyes his squad spread through the bus. His boys. That's what he calls them when jawing with other squad leaders. Partly because that's what they are, young boys, none ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Bryce Pearson was disfigured by a bomb blast. In "Dead Man's Hand," his face now bears "two puckered lines jagging from his mouth to his neck, another one slicing across his right cheek." In what other ways have soldiers in his squad been ruined by war?
  2. Why does Pearson drive Darrell to the recruiting station if he doesn't really want him to enlist? Do you think Pearson made a mistake?
  3. Pearson compensates for his disfigurement by confronting the "unblemished public… like a form of combat." In what ways do other veterans from his squad show that they also have not adjusted well to civilian life?
  4. Staff Sergeant Berkholtz swapped off his guard duty the day the bomb ended up killing Private Pearson. At ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In his closing quartet of stories, Glose lands body blows of brilliant prose that rend the heart. In "The Dead Aren't Allowed to Walk," a character experiences a downward spiral during an addled quest to avenge a friendly fire death. A sister's devastation is eloquently mapped as she observes the objects left behind by her brother in "Her Brother's Apartment." In the collection's longest story, "Penultimate Dad," Mueller reconnects with a daughter he does not recognize, discovering he still has something to offer her. Sure to rank with the likes of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, Glose's All the Ruined Men is a riveting collection of superbly crafted stories, stripped down like a field weapon, capable of cutting and gutting with the blunt reality of war's ugly wake...continued

Full Review Members Only (948 words).

(Reviewed by Peggy Kurkowski).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[I]mpressive...Glose exposes painful truths about the devastation wreaked on these soldiers and the families that ached for their safe returns and now struggle to relate to them when they arrive home. Throughout, he makes no effort to conceal the harsh realities of these damaged lives. A collection of painfully honest and consistently empathetic glimpses of modern American soldiers in war and peace.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Combat veteran Glose debuts with an emotionally charged linked collection about a squad of American soldiers trying to survive combat and its aftermath after tours in Afghanistan and Iraq...Glose writes knowingly about the emotions that assault soldiers coming home from a combat zone and confronting a world that no longer makes sense to them, making for a powerful statement on the war that is waged once soldiers return home. This sterling collection stands with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.

Author Blurb Sheri Reynolds, author of The Tender Grave and The Rapture of Canaan
In this collection, Bill Glose hinges the traumas of war to everyday events: playing poker, hosting a party, digging a pool. All the Ruined Men is an impressive debut from a seasoned storyteller who understands nuance and character and how memory abides inside every present moment. These stories are brutal, disarming, tender, and wrenching. They are also very well-written — lyrical, yet understated — harrowing, piercing, fierce.

Author Blurb Will Mackin, author of Bring Out the Dog
Through these heartfelt stories Bill Glose shatters the myth of the tight-lipped, stoic veteran.

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Beyond the Book

Suicide Among Combat Veterans

Service members in shadow toting gearWar casts a long shadow, and no more so than when combat veterans return home carrying the heavy burden of physical and psychological wounds. As a result, one of the most urgent issues facing the United States military today is the epidemic of suicide among veterans. According to a 2021 article, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, 7,057 U.S. military service members have been killed in war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Astoundingly, the number of deaths by suicide of veterans and service members since 9/11 is four times that, as related in a recent study conducted as part of the Costs of War project from Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

The paper estimates the number of ...

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