by Genevieve Long
If you read only one book about Iraq and Afghanistan this year, make it “The Forever War”, by New York Times foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins. It is full of insightful, lyrical vignettes about the war in Iraq from 2003 to 2006, when Filkins was living there and reporting for the Times. It also includes about forty pages about Afghanistan just prior to the beginning of the war in Iraq.
What Filkins’ book accomplishes, in the short term, is to make a war on the other side of the world come to vivid life. Sometimes it is done in a manner that is startling and unnerving. In fact, when I was reading “The Forever War” for a book review, it gave me nightmares. But it also gave me a deeper understanding about an incredibly complex situation.
Within its pages, the book manages to cover the vast expanse of human experiences encountered in the face of a war like that in Iraq. It moves seamlessly from being so accustomed to suicide car bombings that a human being’s spinal cord on the ground is easily recognizable, to recognizing frustrated indignation in an Iraqi woman’s eyes when she insists on voting day that democracy is “just talking”. You can read my full review of the book at The Epoch Times.
Filkins’ book has won acclaim from readers and reviews. One such review, by George Packer, author of “The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq”, perfectly encapsulates the essence of why “The Forever War” is so timeless and a must-read for any American who wants to understand the impact that the war in Iraq has had.
Packer’s review reads, in part:
“The Forever War is already a classic—it has the timeless feel of all great war literature. A lot has been written about Iraq and Afghanistan, but no one has seen as much, survived as much, and registered the horror with such sad eloquence as Dexter Filkins. His combination of courage and sensitivity is so rare that books like his come along only once every major war. This one is ours.”
Filkins, who spent the fall of 2008 on tour as his newly-published book climbed the New York Times’ bestseller list, recently returned from spending about six weeks on assignment in Afghanistan. His articles from that trip are must-reads for understanding the deepening crisis there.