The description of The Forever War on Goodreads begins with “How they happened and why, how they’ve succeeded and failed. The Forever War is not that kind of book…” This is one of the primary attributes that made this without question the best book I have read about the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rather than focusing on the politics and historical implications, Dexter Filkins chose to focus on the people. Part memoir, part oral history, he has woven a narrative based on his own experiences over the course of nine years in the Middle East and the tales of those people he met. We see the changes over time in his feelings, the dissonance between the different sides. We hear the fragments of stories of the Marines with whom he spent a considerable amount of time. We read of deaths that haunt him and moments of beauty that amazed him. This book brought tears to my eyes more than once and reminded me that I am thankful for the people who spend their time in these hellholes, regardless of my opinion of whether or not they should be there.
July 30, 2011