My War: Killing Time in Iraqby Published 05 Sep 2006
|My War: Killing Time in Iraq.pdf|
An underemployed, skateboarding party animal, Colby Buzzell traded a dead-end future for the army--and ended up as a machine gunner in Iraq. To make sense of the absurd and frightening events surrounding him, he started writing a blog about the war--and how it differed from the government's official version. But as his blog's popularity grew, Buzzell became the embedded reporter the Army couldn't control--despite its often hilarious efforts to do so. The result is an extraordinary narrative, rich with unforgettable scenes: the Iraqi woman crying uncontrollably during a raid on her home; the soldier too afraid to fight; the troops chain-smoking in a guard tower and counting tracer rounds; the first, fierce firefight against the "men in black." Drawing comparisons to everything from Charles Bukowski to Catch-22, My War depicts a generation caught in a complicated and dangerous world--and marks the debut of a raw, remarkable new voice.
"My War: Killing Time in Iraq" Reviews
I read Buzzell's famous memoir in preparation for my own trip to Iraq. While I was going as a tourist and not a soldier, I found this book to be really informative.
For example, Buzzell says, "[the women] would stare at us but as soon as you made eye contact, they would look away. The Iraqi men were a little different. They stare too, but don't look away, and if you wave, which is something they never initiate, they wave back, nervously."
That was 2003-4. In October 2012 the women still look away, except for a few younger ones. The men are more forthcoming. On the street they rarely wave first, but when you wave or say salaam alaykum most burst into a smile and return your greeting. If they're in a place where they feel more comfortable, like a mosque, they'll often come up to you first and start a conversation.
While this is a war memoir, much of the book is about Buzzell's personal growth and the uncomfortable position he gets in when the blog he's writing becomes famous. The Army had never had to deal with this before and its policy on blogging was pretty much created because of him.
The subtitle, "Killing Time in Iraq" more accurately reads, "Killing Time in Iraq". Buzzell discovers all too well the truth of that old saying, "War is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror."
The boredom is narrated with hilarious cynicism. The terror is some of the best combat writing I've ever read. If you want to know about the war in Iraq from a grunt's-eye view, read this book.
Colby Buzzell is a California slacker turned soldier turned professional writier. His hold on literary technique is astounding. He is a natural writer.
This book is the story of a slacker's search for change and excitement, his experience as a soldier in Iraq, and his thoughts on the operation of the Army and the war in Iraq. The images of war he creates in the reader's mind are like those written in great war novels - but then you realize that this stuff really happened and still happens every day.
It's fascinating. I reccommend it to anybody interested in a soldier's account of today's Iraq War.
The only pitfall this book has is the continuously exensive use of foul language. At first, it threw me off. But, with time, it developed a solid character, and then that character became more and more endearing with each new foul word that he used. I came to love him and his voice in this book because it was flawed and it was real.
My War is an autobiographical collection of blog entries, anecdotes and musings about life in the US army in Iraq. The writing is not amazing, but the guy's got a really solid voice and his story-telling is very honest and funny.
Colby, on the subject of a fellow soldier insisting that he give is machine gun a name:
I thought about it for a second, and then I told him that I would name my M240 "Rosebud." He said that was a cool name, and then with a smile asked me, "So who's Rosebud?" I could tell that he was probably suspecting Rosebud to be the name of some lap-dancing stripper or something like that. When I broke the news to him that is was inspired by the movie Citizen Kane, he said, "Citizen what?"
I then explained to him that Citizen Kane was an old black-and-white Orson Welles movie, and that Rosebud was the name of the main character's sled, which in the movie symbolized Kane's lost childhood, and then I joked that if I got killed while behind the gun I'd probably mutter the word "Rosebud" as my last dying word.
He then called me a weirdo and walked away.
In actual fact, I'd put this at 4.5 stars. Quite possibly one of my favourite wartime autobiographies from this century. It's incredibly readable and immensely down to earth. Nothing high flung about it. The honesty reminded me of 'Restrepo' in the form of a book. In any case, I read this a while ago, so a full review will come once I'm home for the summer and can grab my copy (and stars may potentially be amended - we'll see).
Based on his blog (of the same title and that caused great controversy a few years back when the Army got all pissed off about it) this book is a first hand account of life as a foot solider in Iraq. Buzzell captures the sentiments of someone in transition--he joined the army not out of patriotism but as a means to escape his going nowhere life back in the States. As his story progresses he begins to question the sanity of the Army and the legality of the Iraq war. What's being reported on the mass media news is (surprise surprise) quite different from what's happening on the ground. Buzzell is fairly conservative--more libertarian than left leaning in his views. He makes no bones about putting on hard core music before going out in his Stryker to "secure" an area. But neither does he hide his fear when his platoon is ambushed. It's interesting and important to see his transformation from a "regular Army guy" to a person who is aware of the consequences of his actions by participating in military "operations."
One may ask why I'm reading (my husband Noah says somewhat obsessively) all these accounts of life as a soldier in Iraq. I don't usually gravitate to these types of books. However, as this war drags on and on and on and on and thousands are killed, people who are actually fighting (not embedded media) can give us a more personal look into the costs of war. It's also nice to see soldiers speaking out against an illegal and unjust war.