The Forever War

Written by Dexter Filkins

My first reaction to this book was how much it reminded me of Vietnam War memoirs I’ve read. That’s a pretty terrifying comparison. Beyond that reality, this book is amazing. Dexter Filkins, a New York Times correspondent, writes about reporting throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his experiences in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban.

Reading about these wars in newspapers and watching media coverage do not prepare you for this book. Filkins lives in the Red Zone, travels with the Marines, and reports from the midst of the battles. He watches American soldiers take their last breaths, escapes Iraqi kidnapping attempts, and interviews insurgents inside their homes.

Filkins explains the contradictions of modern-day Iraq as well as any foreigner can. He truly seeks to understand the context in which these wars are taking place. Providing a unique window into Afghan and Iraqi societies, Filkins brings the reader on his journey from the optimistic arrival of Americans in Iraq to the black-hole of despair that the war became. I thought I understood my feelings about these wars, but after reading this book, my emotions have become even more muddled.

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