Smithson, Ryan. 2009. GHOSTS OF WAR. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061664687 [Suggested Grade Levels 9- 12]
This memoir of a nineteen-year-old soldier traces the events leading to him joining the reserves, his time in the U.S. Army, subsequent year’s deployment in Iraq, and his return. Smithson explains the impact 9-11 had on his life and his feelings about his country, from duty, to the need to do something, and how the war had an impact on his life following his return.
The matter-of-fact narration conveys the emotions, longings, and conflicts brought on by basic training, the military, and war. The text moves about out of sequence from Smithson’s reasons for joining, to his time in Iraq, to basic training, in smooth transitions. He details service life from the long bouts of boredom mixed with intermittent moments of horrifying fear, to the deaths of friends. His marriage and the longing for home resonate deeply without any overt sexual descriptions.
This book provides an inside look into today’s military. It concludes with a look at one soldier’s struggle to fit back in at home. With a background of the military and the raw emotions of war, it shows patriotism in action in a realistic, honest story.
This book lets readers experience the military and warfare on a personal level and get a realistic view of today’s military. It would be a book to read before enlisting or when dealing with a loved one actively involved or returning from military service.
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