Tag Archives: oral history

Lists: Best Books Read in 2011 – # 4

Best Books Read in 2011

4. The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

With wars as complicated as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is natural that many of the books published dwell heavily on the hows, whys, blame, and credit. The Forever War did none of that. Written by Dexter Filkins, a reporter who spent long stretches of time in both countries and was embedded with troops on multiple occasions, it reads more like oral history than your typical history. It is a story about the people living and fighting in those countries. For that, it receives every bit of praise I can give.

Original Review

5. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
6. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
7. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
8. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
9. A Great & Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
10. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

The Forever WarThe Forever War by Dexter Filkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

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