Books I am reading

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fives and Twenty-Fives

I received a review copy of this book through NetGalley in return for writing a review. This is my true and personal opinion.

This book will be published on Aug 26, and, with the current events in Iraq, could not have come at a more opportune time. The author, Michael Pitre, served two combat tours in Iraq, and while the story is not autobiographical, it has been enriched by his first hand experience.

This is the story of a Marine platoon assigned to fill potholes, usually created by IEDs that have exploded. But before they can begin their road work, they must first make sure there are no additional bombs in the area or in the hole. Everyday brings tension, and gut-ripping fear. Each person in the unit handles the pressure in their own way.

Told in flashbacks intermingled with current problems adjusting to being back in the States, this gripping story kept me on the edge of my seat for 4 days as I read. I cannot imagine the psychological, physical and spiritual toll this kind of terror must wreck on the soldiers who are in country for 12-18 months at a time. Watching friends explode in front of you, or be shot by snipers as you work to make the road safe for future transit. The mundane silliness of friends when you return home, who have no idea what you have seen and experienced while you were gone. 

There is also a gut-wrenching story of the unit's interpreter, Dodge. What happened to his family when Iraq was invaded by the US, how he survived and eventually came to be an interpreter, and what transpired when the unit returned to the states.

If you want to better understand what has happened in Iraq, this is a must read. Well told with terrorizing action, poignant moments of humanity, and gallows humor, Fives and Twenty-Fives is a record of a war no one wanted, and even fewer understand.