Colby Buzzell's My War: Killing Time in Iraq came to my attention through Paul Jones' lecture at OCLC in May. Paul is chair of the Blooker Prize selection committee that chooses the best books-that-began-life-as-blogs. Colby's book won the prize. As a parent of a Marine, I'll read most anything that illuminates the day-to-day of life in America's biggest foreign policy debacle... well... maybe ever.
Buzzell is an unlikely man of letters. A disproportionate number of his happen to be "F". Prior to joining the Army, his major investment in his future involved skateboarding, and at 26, his enlistment was as much as anything an escape from a future of dead-end data entry jobs. He drank a lot of beer, and then recruiter's Koolaid, and next thing you know he's in Mosul.
His stories of humdrum will ring true to anyone with even passing familiarity with military life, and that credibility punctuates the power of his descriptions of events that most of us (thankfully) will never be able to judge from first-hand experience.
Buzzell is far from unread. He quotes liberally from a diverse cross-section of literature. As a fellow facebooker (Brenda Petays) wrote about this book:
My favorite quote is where Buzzell quotes battalion commander Lombatton who quotes Marcus Aurelius: "Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what's left and live it properly. What doesn't transmit light creates is own darkness."
This is a must read if you have someone in Iraq or who
might be. Or maybe even if you just want to know what its like for
an American soldier serving in Iraq. It is witty, profane, evocative and just
plain entertaining. The author became an unwitting celebrity for his
natural style and up front description. His MOS is the 240 machine gun
and humor piercing irony. An interesting case of someone whose life is
probably far better off for the war, and has turned his advantage to a
network-effect benefit for the rest of us. It isn't great literature, but it is terrific narrative.
Image: The foyer of the newly opened Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia. See more at http://www.flickr.com/photos/weibel-lines/sets/72157594479322602/