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The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Warsby Patrick Hennessey
Synopses & Reviews
Hailed as a classic of war writing in the U.K., The Junior Officers' Reading Club is a revelatory first-hand account of a young enlistee's profound coming of age. Attempting to stave off the tedium and pressures of army life in the Iraqi desert by losing themselves in the dusty paperbacks on the transit-camp bookshelves, Hennessey and a handful of his pals from military academy form the Junior Officers' Reading Club. By the time he reaches Afghanistan and the rest of the club are scattered across the Middle East, they are no longer cheerfully overconfident young recruits, hungering for action and glory. Hennessey captures how boys grow into men amid the frenetic, sometimes exhilarating violence, frequent boredom, and almost overwhelming responsibilities that frame a soldier's experience and the way we fight today.
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"While no doubt the bravado with which Hennessy frames his account of daily life in a war zone reveals the crucial but often overlooked heart and mind of a soldier, the unsettling results confirm the vapid promises of war: that in battle, there is no context, no history, but only boredom, adrenaline, or grief. 'Fun,' 'thrill,' and 'excitement' drive Hennessy, and apparently his comrades as well, even after a lot of blood and death; that this fact endures becomes more horrifying than the wars enveloping them. Hennessy's story jumps from daily life at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, to drills in the British countryside, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sum of these parts never quite adds up to a cohesive tale, though sections share a hurried disjointedness that occasionally comes off as narrative momentum. The jargon and relentless use of acronyms certainly captures military speech but obscures the basic development of many scenes. Though a glossary of terms is included, flipping for every DTDF, OPTAG NCO, and GPMG would make for more back-and-forth than any attention span would permit. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
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"Articulate and unsparing...[an] unforgettable account of how modern warfare both broadened and unsettled a young soldier."
-The New York Times Book Review
"As the art of warfare has transformed from trenches and Maginot Lines to guerrilla terrorism and nation-building, a new strain of existentialism has emerged: the boredom of war. Patrick Hennessey, a captain in the British Army, captures that ennui perfectly...[he] wields his words as impressively as he does his weapons. "
"Unlike the chiseled journalists who go to observe and report, Hennessey was in the shit himself. His first (and hopefully not only) book tempers the rigors of war with youthful irreverence."
-Time Out New York
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