Friday, May 14, 2010

Recent Reading: 'The Forever War' by Dexter Filkins

AltTulsa spends a good deal of time reading "serious" books—no romance novels or comic books here. (Okay, we like people who read these books too. Really.)

Our most recent book was a little more serious than we might have preferred—quite sobering, in fact. The book is The Forever War by Dexter Filkins, formerly with the Los Angeles Times and now with the New York Times.

What makes Filkins so effective as a war correspondent is his fearlessness and experience. Unlike most American journalists, Filkins was in Afghanistan well before Sept. 11, 2001. His experience goes back to 1998, when Filkins witnessed the Taliban punish a pickpocket by chopping off his hand.

Over its twenty-one chapters, The Forever War provides insights into the lives of Afghan fighters, Iraqi warriors on both sides, as well as many American soldiers. Filkins is a keen observer and his descriptions of the many aspects of the "war on terror" are vivid and, often, depressing.

It's a hard-headed view of the war, but a necessary one for those readers who want to understand what we and our soldiers were (and still are) facing in the war against Islamic fundamentalism. 

UPDATE: We neglected to mention that Filkins was a sometime partner with Times photographer Ashley Gilbertson, whose book, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, was reviewed on this site (see post of Feb. 16, 2010). Both Filkins and Gilbertson are well worth reading.

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