"I was in Afghanistan as a civilian with an NGO called Afghans4Tomorrow, but the sense of outrage that I felt witnessing firsthand what the Taliban had done was so profound, I needed to be more involved fighting them. Two years later, I would return to Afghanistan as a soldier."
After reading most of this book it struck me as being rather disjointed. It seemed more like a collection of stories, much like the "Chicken Soup" series of books. I had failed to fully read the jacket cover before starting the book itself. [I seldom read reviews of a book prior to reading it. I like to form my own opinion about the book as I read it for the first time. ] Had I done so, in this case, I would have realized that these "essays" were actual posts from the author's blog. A blog that was started while he was in country [Afghanistan].
Through the pages of his book, you see a different side of the military. When was the last time you read a book about a member of an Embedded Training Team? Tupper and the members of his team worked and lived with the Afghanistan National Army (ANA). There would be one or maybe two American soldiers living and working with hundreds of armed ANA who might or might not be friendly to the U.S. military presence there.
Tupper came home to find life different than when he deployed. Dealing with his own PTSD was a challenge. Learning to deal with a daily routine that didn't include an adrenaline high was just as tough. Tupper admits he has PTSD, that he sought out and was helped by counseling. He tells us that a large part of his learning to deal with his PTSD was in the writing of this book. It was a release for him of the burdens he carries from his military service.
The book is divided into sections. The name of each section speaks for itself: War Stories; Laughter is Our Best Defense; Farewell, Fallen Comrades and more.
"This collection of essays also explores the injuries inflicted during war, from the slow but steady degradation of healthy minds by combat stress, to treating the physical wounds of combat, to the deaths of our comrades and enemies."
After finishing this book, I realized it was different from most other books I have read about our soldiers' experiences while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would I recommend you read this book? Absolutely! Why? The style of writing is straight-forward, brutally blunt in some parts, incredibly moving in others.
"To understand Afghanistan's culture, its potential for modernization and democracy, and its remaining military challenges, one must walk in the shoes of the Afghan people and its Army.
From May 2006 to May 2007, I walked in those shoes. These essays are the footprints of my journey."