Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Joker One - Donovan Campbell

Many thanks to Random House for providing an ARC copy of this book via Shelf Awareness. The copy I received had a plain blue cover which left me wondering what the story inside was all about. But when I started to read the book on a flight to the states, it turned out to be an honest, tough and true story of modern military.

Donovan Campbell writes a straight and true story about his tour of Iraq, and in particular the troublesome and explosive city of Ramadi. This is not a story of valour, patriotism and noble deeds (though you will find them in the book). Instead this is a gritty and honest account of how soldiers work, live and fight together and about the bonds than strongly tie them together. Campbell, an officer, honestly discusses his worries and concerns about being a leader of men. He tells us about the quirks, foibles and characters of his men, letting you realise that these are normal men who are not doing a normal job.

Campbell does not take us into the politics of the Iraq situation, but he does raise interesting questions. How do American marines operate in a tense and explosive city while trying to maintain friendship and civility with the local population? How do you handle civilians in a firefight situation? These are the dilemmas of modern, urban warfare which Campbell and his men had to face.

This is a book that is deserving of reading - whether you are pro-America in Iraq or not. You will learn about the challenges and trials faced by ordinary men on the ground. They live in cramped, uncomfortable quarters and they work in a deadly job. Whatever your political affiliations are, you have to admire the men. That is the strength of Campbell's story.

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