David Finkel. The Good Soldiers. Sarah Crichton Books, 2009. ISBN 978-0374165734 304 pp. $
The Good Soldiers follows the deployment of 2-16, sent to Baghdad as part of the “last surge” in 2007. As part of the counterinsurgency movement, soldiers prowl the streets at 10 miles an hour, looking for explosive devices and rebels. Colonel Kauz goes on the local radio to try to gain the trust of the Iraqi people. The daughter of a translator gets a piece of glass embedded in her face. Birthdays are celebrated, the president visits the wounded, wives struggle at home as their husbands soldier on.
I devoured The Good Soldiers in three sittings, and found it powerfully moving and well-written. It’s dramatic without being sensationalistic, and author’s opening chapter, filled with foreboding (as the outcome of some of the soldier’s stories are already known as the book opens), leaves the reader filled with dread. It’s an easy read in terms of accessibility, and presents history with judgment reserved in a just the facts, journalistic style; it’s a very hard read because of the subject matter.
With the average age of the majority of the soldiers in 2-16 being 19, this seems like a good choice for teen readers, most especially those who are military minded.