never heard of Colby Buzzell's blog "My War" back in 2004 when he started blogging from Mosul. He was there with the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3/2 from Ft. Lewis. I did however receive a phone call from my boyfriend from Mosul in 2004. It wasn't the longest call ever and he wasn't my boyfriend at the time. We said the things you say to someone you care about, but haven't spoken to in years and the things you say when you know it could be the last time you get to say them. I didn't have much insight at the time into what his life was like. I watch and read news, but no one can fully understand anything they haven't live. I firmly believe that.
Enter: Colby Buzzell's "My War-Killing Time in Iraq."
The book came out in 2005. I (oblivious to many things) didn't hear about it until I watched some TV program about war writers. It was speckled with commentary by Vietnam Vets/authors, but primarily focused on soldiers who served and wrote in Iraq. It didn't delve into the now numerous soldier blogs, but Buzzell's book had its own segment and after hearing the commentary and finding out he had been in my boyfriend's battalion's sister battalion, I knew I had to check it out.
Three days ago I started reading this book and never wanted to put it down. Its primarily a narrative, but there are exact blog entries included as well as copies of the Army's nifty little note-cards and official "handouts." I actually found most of those pretty much hilarious. If you have nothing to do with the military in any way, you might miss the humor.
Buzzell starts by giving us a good snapshot of what his life was like as a mid-20s California boy with no plans in life. He gives a comical play-by-play of his encounter with a Marine recruiter, then an Army recruiter. We read a little about basic, then his FNG time at Ft. Lewis and JRTC. The bulk of the book (and the birth of his blog) take place during his 12 month deployment in Iraq (primarily Mosul).
His writing is smart, vivid and sharp. He doesn't pull punches, but this also isn't some glorified "Look what I did" war story. He had journaled for years and started blogging after reading an article about it. He saw it as his online journal where he could be anonymous and still gain feedback.
This is a fairly fast paced read. It isn't heavy or consuming. I found his descriptions of firefights incredible. He really sticks true to his own pov and doesn't give us any heady, birds-eye-views or confusing descriptions.
He explains almost all "Army talk" but without insulting the reader's intelligence, which I think is fantastic. I imagine the editors can take some credit there. Any person can read and understand this book. No one will find the descriptions obnoxious or excessive...even when you already know what he's talking about.
Buzzell gives the average person a clear picture of what war is like for a grunt in Iraq. I think this should be required reading for citizens in this country. Not because it's somehow shocking and I don't think it will cause anyone to have any kind of huge revelation or awakening about war, but because it will definitely breed a level of understanding that seems impossible for most people right now.
I highly recommend this book to everyone. Go, buy, read.