Quick Review: Thank-You for Your Service by David Finkel

Book 1 for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge
★★★½
  • Another book I might have given four stars (and I did on GoodReads) but I wouldn’t reread it.
  • For the past few years, one of the first books I read in a new year has to do with war. Not sure how that happened, but that’s why I finally sought out this book.
  • I didn’t realize this is something of a follow-up book. I wish I had read The Good Soldiers first, because it did feel like I missed the first part of the story. It’s on my list now.
  • I always feel a little strange when reading a book about such an American subject. Canada has soldiers, too, but in a different political and cultural climate than America. I wonder what reading this book would be like for an American who had strong feelings, either way, about the Iraq war. I was a bit thrown by Romeo Dallaire’s foreward and then the introduction that praised Dallaire’s work. I thought, “Wait, what is this book about again? It is about Americans in Iraq, right?”
  • This isn’t a book to read for a great reading experience. This is the kind of book you pick up so you can bear witness to the tragic stories inside, and try to come to terms with the fact that these are real people, real lives, contained within. It is not an uplifting read. This is something you should read so you can maybe start to understand. The writing is plain and factual. Recording the words and the actions of the families in this book is more than enough to make an impact. It’s a tough read, especially when you’re let into such intimate moments of these people’s lives. You’re learning about so many people in so many difficult places, and what you’re getting is just a snapshot.
  • I was most interested in the generals discussing soldier suicides and General Chiarelli effort’s to do something about it (see ~ pg. 100+). But it’s such a difficult situation. If you’re sending men into these horrific situations and then want them to be okay when they get back – what can you do? The current system is bloated and broken. It’s really sad, seeing men who finally try to find help but then can’t get it – hindered by politics, money, bureaucracy. 
  • I don’t understand the purpose of war. I admit I know very little about it, but I suspect there must be a better way to accomplish at least some of the supposed objectives of militants sent into areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. I know that the lives soldiers return to after completing their work is only one part of the picture, but after reading this book, I wish it was considered more. If I were American, I’d be thinking – what’s the point if we’re destroying our own people at the same time, if we can’t help them after they’ve given everything for our freedom (or whatever it is you thank a soldier for…)? It’s to remember what, if any good, comes out of such war.