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The Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Sergeant Camilo Mejia

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The Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Sergeant Camilo Mejia Cover

ISBN13: 9781595580528
ISBN10: 1595580522
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The inspiring story of the nationally known soldier who fought in Iraq and was brave enough to face jail rather than return to fight again.

As the American occupation of Iraq continues with no end in sight, Camilo Mejía has become a nationally recognized voice in the ever-growing peace movement. After serving in the Army for nearly nine years, he was the first-known Iraq veteran to refuse to fight, citing moral concerns about the war and occupation. His principled stand helped to rally the growing opposition and embolden his fellow soldiers. Despite widespread public support and an all-star legal team, Mejía was eventually convicted of desertion by a military court and sentenced to a year in prison, prompting Amnesty International to declare him a prisoner of conscience.

Since his release, the celebrated soldier-turned-pacifist has traveled around the country and the world to speak against the war. Now he tells his own story, from his upbringing in Central America and his experience as a working-class immigrant in the United States to his service in Iraq—where he witnessed prisoner abuse and was deployed in the Sunni triangle—and time in prison. Far from being an accidental activist, Mejía was raised by prominent Sandinista revolutionaries and draws inspiration from Jesuit teachings. In this stirring book, he argues passionately for human rights and the end to an unjust war.

Review:

"Meja, a veteran of the Iraq conflict, became an antiwar hero when he refused to return to his unit and was court-martialed in 2004 for desertion. His memoir is a blend of compelling war narrative and dubious soapboxing. Meja's claim to conscientious objector status, after eight years in the U.S. military, months of combat and a long campaign for a discharge, rings rather hollow. The son of prominent Nicaraguan Sandinistas, he takes a view of the insurgents' 'fight for self-determination' that seems nave ('[t]here seemed to be a unity that spread through the differences among Iraqis') and his prose is laced with clunky rhetoric about 'the imperial dragon that devours its own soldiers and Iraqi civilians alike for the sake of profit.' Most powerful are his firsthand experiences of prisoner abuse, senseless patrols that invite insurgent attacks, discord among his demoralized comrades and their careerist officers, and the constant brutalization of Iraqis by paranoid, trigger-happy GIs. (In one incident, an irate soldier arrests an eight-year-old rock thrower, who is then beaten by a local man desperate to appease the vengeful Americans.) Those stories add up to an indelible portrait of the dirty war in the Sunni triangle and Meja's painful confrontation with his immoral complicity in it. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Staff Sgt. Mejia became the new face of the antiwar movement in early 2004 when he applied for a discharge from the Army as a conscientious objector. After serving in the Army for nearly nine years, he was the first known Iraq veteran to refuse to fight. He was eventually convicted of desertion by a military court and sentenced to a year in prison.

About the Author

Camilo Mejía grew up in Nicaragua and Costa Rica before moving to the United States in 1994. He joined the military at age nineteen, serving as an infantryman in the active-duty Army for three years before transferring to the Florida National Guard. He fought in Iraq for five months. He currently lives in Miami.

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rvt, July 9, 2007 (view all comments by rvt)
Having seen Mejia speak at the Unitarian Church, after which he received a peace award from the church, I was deeply inspired to buy his book, and share it with young people of near draftable age. Purchasing the autobiography, I was pleased to recognize that he is a decent writer, and so precise in his details as a commander as to paint a vivid picture of life around him.

His reading centered on the end of the novel on his mental "freedom" which he won for himself upon his conviction for desertion and maximum sentencing of one year in prison. A light sentence, but the maximum that could be alloted as he had been in the armed forces for more than 8 years, and was not as yet a naturalized citizen of the U.S. Meiia is a Nicaraguan, a nation badly battered by the U.S. government through Contra forces during the Iran/Contra debacle. Mejia's parents were renowned Sandinista's, none-the-less alienated in his new country he felt the need to serve.

He served his time, and then signed up for the National Guard, duped into believing he would never be sent overseas as such. He was, of course, but what makes this novel, and his story so alarming is that Meija is a Staff Sargent of foreign descent on ground zero during the occupation of Iraq. He had first hand exposure to the disorganization of that occupation, and the declining mood of the country of Iraq to the soldiers, as a result of his commanders looking for high body counts for badges and medals.

Continual inhumane and unsafe activities are conducted throughout, Meija is not innocent in his compliance with harm towards Iraqis, or in carrying out negligence in conducting activities which are illegal by International law. At one state in the begining Meija is given control of an illegal Iraqi prisoner of war camp, ie. detainee camp, where no physician is working, but torturers are operating. He is not the torturer but the jail keeper, and there are places here, and when he shoots a teenage protester that we lose our respect for Meijia.

But he makes no excuses for himself. He accepts that he towed the line not only for his survival, but because it was the way of life to which he was exposed, and the peer network in which he worked. However, what made Meijia different is that after such activities he would reflect brutally and painfully over the details over and over, it was by this he slowly began to realize he was a conscientious objector...

The brutality of Meijia's turning, his recognition of the skinny children as so similar to the children of Nicaragua, his idenity within the army changes. And with it his temperment, and ability to operate in the harsh attitudes that he previously was able to use while turning off his mind to the constant suffering and pain all around him.

We must ask ourselves, would we do the same, do we risk our careers when we see that others are being harmed by our actions. And what does it mean to sacrifice one's reputation for the sake of others.

It is sad that Meijia had to relate back to his native Nicaragua to recognize this injustice, it points to the subtle turning of the American mindset that we so easily block away from those who are suffering around us, often depositing our suffering overseas, or dumping them from hospitals late at night.

Meijia, in his officers uniform, has an epiphany of a lost emotion to the American political world, compassion.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781595580528
Author:
Mejia, Camilo
Publisher:
New Press
Author:
Mejc-A, Camilo
Author:
Mejc-A, Camilo
Subject:
General
Subject:
Peace
Subject:
Military
Subject:
Military - Iraq War
Subject:
Military - Iraq War (2003-)
Subject:
Soldiers
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Conscientious objectors
Subject:
Iraq War, 2003
Subject:
Soldiers -- United States.
Subject:
Biography-Military
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20070631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Biography » Military
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » Military » Gulf Wars
History and Social Science » Military » Iraq War (2003-)
History and Social Science » Military » Recent Military History
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

The Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Sergeant Camilo Mejia New Hardcover
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$23.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages New Press - English 9781595580528 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Meja, a veteran of the Iraq conflict, became an antiwar hero when he refused to return to his unit and was court-martialed in 2004 for desertion. His memoir is a blend of compelling war narrative and dubious soapboxing. Meja's claim to conscientious objector status, after eight years in the U.S. military, months of combat and a long campaign for a discharge, rings rather hollow. The son of prominent Nicaraguan Sandinistas, he takes a view of the insurgents' 'fight for self-determination' that seems nave ('[t]here seemed to be a unity that spread through the differences among Iraqis') and his prose is laced with clunky rhetoric about 'the imperial dragon that devours its own soldiers and Iraqi civilians alike for the sake of profit.' Most powerful are his firsthand experiences of prisoner abuse, senseless patrols that invite insurgent attacks, discord among his demoralized comrades and their careerist officers, and the constant brutalization of Iraqis by paranoid, trigger-happy GIs. (In one incident, an irate soldier arrests an eight-year-old rock thrower, who is then beaten by a local man desperate to appease the vengeful Americans.) Those stories add up to an indelible portrait of the dirty war in the Sunni triangle and Meja's painful confrontation with his immoral complicity in it. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Staff Sgt. Mejia became the new face of the antiwar movement in early 2004 when he applied for a discharge from the Army as a conscientious objector. After serving in the Army for nearly nine years, he was the first known Iraq veteran to refuse to fight. He was eventually convicted of desertion by a military court and sentenced to a year in prison.
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