Serving Our Country

War has always been a popular topic for books, both fiction and nonfiction. While some of these books focus on war, all of them present the experiences of those who serve in the United States military, as well as the impact of their service on their families and communities. One of the nonfiction titles, Soldier Girls, focuses specifically on the lives of three women who served in the Indiana National Guard, including a Bloomington resident. All of these titles provide a look into the world of those who choose to serve our country in the armed forces.


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Fobbit

David Abrams
Abrams

Fobbit \’fä-bit\, noun. Definition: A U.S. soldier stationed at a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by remaining at the base, esp. during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011). Pejorative.
In the satirical tradition of Catch-22, Fobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield – where people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like a desk job. Darkly humorous and based on the author's own experiences in Iraq, Fobbit is a fantastic debut that shows us a behind-the-scenes portrait of the real Iraq war.


Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the new face of American war

Evan Wright
956.70443 Wr

Wright rode into Iraq on March 20, 2003, with a platoon of First Reconnaissance Battalion Marines—the Marine Corps' special operations unit whose motto is "Swift, Silent, Deadly." These highly trained and highly motivated First Recon Marines were the leading unit of the American-led invasion force. His account is a personality-driven, readable and insightful look at the Iraq War's first month from the Marine grunt's point of view. Wright paints compelling portraits of a handful of Marines, most of whom are young, street-smart and dedicated to the business of killing the enemy.


The Good Soldiers

David Finkel
956.70443 Fin

Washington Post correspondent Finkel chronicles the 15-month deployment of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Baghdad during 2007 and 2008, when the chaos in Iraq subsided to a manageable uproar. For the 2-16, waning violence still meant wild firefights, nerve-wracking patrols through hostile neighborhoods where every trash pile could hide an IED, and dozens of comrades killed and maimed. At the fraught center of the story is Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, whose dogged can-do optimism pits itself against declining morale and whispers of mutiny. Finkel's keen firsthand reportage, its grit and impact only heightened by the literary polish of his prose, gives us one of the best accounts yet of the American experience in Iraq.


The Knife

Ross Ritchell
Ritchel

It’s hot and getting hotter this summer in Afghanipakiraqistan—the preferred name for the ambiguous stretch of the world where the U.S. Special Forces operate with little outside attention. Team Leader Dutch Shaw is missing his late grandmother. She was the last link he had to civilian life, to any kind of world of innocence. But there’s no time to mourn. After two helicopters in a sister squadron are shot down, Shaw and his team know that they’re going to be spun up and sent back in, deep into insurgent territory, where a mysterious new organization called Al Ayeelaa has been attracting high-value targets from across the region. As Shaw and his men fight their way closer to the source, mission by mission, they begin to realize that their way may have been prepared for them in advance, and not by a welcoming host. The Knife is a debut novel of intense authenticity by a former soldier in a United States Special Operations Command direct-action team.


Redeployment

Phil Klay
Klay

Winner of the 2014 National Book Award veteran Phil Klay's short story collection takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned.  Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. They reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming.


Soldier Girls: the Battles of Three Women at Home and at War

Helen Thorpe
956.70443 Tho

Helen Thorpe follows the lives of three female members of the Indiana National Guard, including one Bloomington resident, over twelve years on their paths to the military, overseas to combat, and back home…and then overseas again. These women, who are quite different in every way, become friends and we watch their interactions and also what happens when they are separated. We see their families, their lovers, their spouses, their children. We see them work extremely hard, deal with the attentions of men on base and in war zones, and struggle to stay connected to their families back home. We see some of them drink too much, have illicit affairs, and react to the deaths of fellow soldiers. And we see what happens to one of them when the truck she is driving hits an explosive in the road, blowing it up. She survives, but her life may never be the same again.


Thank You for Your Service

David Finkel
362.8609 Fin

Finkel follows many of the same men from The Good Soldiers as they return home and struggle to reintegrate—both into their family lives and into American society at large. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like—not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done. Thank You for Your Service is an act of understanding, and it offers a more complete picture than we have ever had of two essential questions: When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? And when they return, what are we thanking them for?


Until Tuesday: a Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

Luis Carlos Montalván.
362.4 Mon

A highly decorated captain in the U.S. Army, Luis Montalvan never backed down from a challenge during his two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home from combat, however, his physical wounds and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder began to take their toll. He wondered if he would ever recover. Then Luis met Tuesday, a sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. Tuesday had lived among prisoners and at a home for troubled boys, and he found it difficult to trust in or connect with a human being--until Luis. Until Tuesday is the story of how two wounded warriors, who had given so much and suffered the consequences, found salvation in each other. It is a story about war and peace, injury and recovery, psychological wounds and spiritual restoration. But more than that, it is a story about the love between a man and dog, and how, together, they healed each other's souls.


The Yellow Birds

Kevin Powers
Powers

A novel written by a veteran of the war in Iraq, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.


You Know When the Men Are Gone

Siobhan Fallon
Fallon

In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw  down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life. There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches.