Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Experience of Returning Soldiers & Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

From today's BBC article "Obama to announce 34,000 troops out of Afghanistan:"
President Barack Obama will announce in his State of the Union speech 34,000 US troops will leave Afghanistan by early 2014, a White House official has said. The move would effectively halve the current US troop levels in the country from about 66,000.
What's a good novel about how soldiers experience their return to civilian life? I'm currently reading Ben Fountain's novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. It's about U.S. soldiers back home from Iraq on a mid-deployment victory tour (not about them re-integrating with society after their deployment is over):
A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"--three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew--has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child. Among the Bravos is the Silver Star-winning hero of Al-Ansakar Canal, Specialist William Lynn, a nineteen-year-old Texas native. Amid clamoring patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers on their cars, the Bravos are thrust into the company of the Cowboys' hard-nosed businessman/owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a luscious born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized pro players eager for a vicarious taste of war.

For those of you who prefer classics, there's always Hemingway's short story "Soldier's Home."

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