The Good Soldiers by David Finkel

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Synopsis

It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. He called it the surge. "Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences," he told a skeptical nation. Among those listening were the young, optimistic army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, the battalion nicknamed the Rangers. About to head to a vicious area of Baghdad, they decided the difference would be them.

Fifteen months later, the soldiers returned home forever changed. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Finkel was with them in Bagdad, and almost every grueling step of the way.

What was the true story of the surge? And was it really a success? Those are the questions he grapples with in his remarkable report from the front lines. Combining the action of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down with the literary brio of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, The Good Soldiers is an unforgettable work of reportage. And in telling the story of these good soldiers, the heroes and the ruined, David Finkel has also produced an eternal tale--not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.

 

About David Finkel

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David Finkel is a staff writer for The Washington Post and the leader of the Post’s national reporting team. In 2012, he received a MacArthur Fellowship for his journalism, and in 2006 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for a series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. Finkel lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and two daughters.
 
Published September 15, 2009 by Sarah Crichton Books. 301 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Good Soldiers

The New York Times

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The Iraq war in David Finkel’s heart-stopping new book is not the Bush administration’s misguided exercise in hubris, incompetence and ideological fervor meticulously chronicled by Thomas Ricks in his benchmark 2006 study, “Fiasco.” It isn’t the bungled occupation run out of the Green Zone bubble...

Oct 05 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

The New York Times

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But as Finkel also writes, he explained to the soldiers that his intent “was to document their corner of the war, without agenda.” In doing so, he gives unforgettable voice to the men who fought and lived — and to those who did not — and whose voices we otherwise might not have heard.

Oct 08 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

The Guardian

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The Good Soldiers by David Finkel Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop It can't be easy to tour with an American infantry regiment in one ...

Mar 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

Publishers Weekly

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A success story in the headlines, the surge in Iraq was an ordeal of hard fighting and anguished trauma for the American soldiers on the ground, according to this riveting war report.

Jul 27 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

NPR

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NPR coverage of The Good Soldiers by David Finkel. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.

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Star Tribune

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Finkel's book is intense and intimate, showing us the sights, sounds and smells of the surge -- and its aftermath.

Sep 19 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

The Globe and Mail

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On the ground in Iraq, however, a very different, and much darker, picture of the surge has emerged - and this is the story that David Finkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning staff writer for The Washington Post, tells in The Good Soldiers, his uneven book on the subject.

Nov 09 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

The Washington Post

David Finkel faced an unenviable task in writing his on-the-ground account of war in Iraq.

Nov 29 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

Christian Science Monitor

The president himself asserted nine months later that, “We’re kicking ass.” Republican candidate John McCain touted the new approach to the war in his failed bid for the White House.

Sep 24 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Finkel describes the endless meetings Kauzlarich has with local Iraqi leaders, including one possibly involved in killing American troops: a cigarette-smoking sheik who, writes Finkel, “blew smoke from those cigarettes into Kauzlarich’s face while asking for money, for guns, for bullets, for a ne...

Sep 30 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

Daily Kos

Not since Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried has there been such a searing, unembellished and unforgettable look at war as David Finkel's The Good Soldiers, a journal-like account of 15 months spent with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, aka the...

Sep 13 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

Bookmarks Magazine

Mark Brunswick Critical Summary Although the writing on the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan has been solid--Doug Stanton's recent Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan (2009), Thomas Ricks's Fiasco ( 4 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2006),...

Sep 20 2009 | Read Full Review of The Good Soldiers

Oprah.com

Finkel, a journalist whose work for The Washington Post earned him a Pulitzer Prize, tells the story that has mostly been missing from the front pages: the touching camaraderie of the men, the shock of a soldier's first exposure to the true horror of battle and to the first loss of a friend, the...

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Literary Review

It is almost impossible to imagine any British journalist undertaking an eight-month 'embed' with a British Army unit, yet that is what Finkel did (over a nearly two-year period), immersing himself with the soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment from Fort Riley, Kansas, as they prepare...

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Daily Camera

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