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The Virginia Quarterly Review

 

The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans by Aaron Glantz

What We Owe Our Soldiers

A review by Joel Turnipseed

When Army Specialist Thomas Wilson asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, at a 2004 town hall meeting in Kuwait, why the Army was so ill-equipped to protect its soldiers, Secretary Rumsfeld pasted on his best avuncular scowl and said, "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have." Wilson's pointed question shocked some, Rumsfeld's heartless reply prompted competing choruses of outrage, and we all began to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into while we were busy adding new terms like "IED" and "Hillbilly Armor" to our collective vocabularies.

What we didn't do, and Aaron Glantz's The War Comes Home makes this mortifying point again and again, is step back to consider the full implication of Specialist Wilson's question, which might take the form of another question: "What else did we forget to do when planning this thing?" But Glantz's book actually presents two more damning possibilities: "We didn't forget anything" and "We're still not prepared to properly account...



Previously Reviewed by The Virginia Quarterly Review
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Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog

Conquest of the Useless, the altogether appropriate title given to the journals Werner Herzog kept while making his most famous film in the Peruvian rainforest, weighs in at just over three hundred pages. Dense with the soakage of the jungle -- "Nothing ever gets properly dry here, shoes, clothing. ...


Friendly Fire: Stories by Alaa Al Aswany

In his decade-long attempts to get Friendly Fire published, Egyptian author Alaa al-Aswany faced spiteful critics, more than a few corrupt bureaucrats, and at least one suspicious patient (he makes his living as a dentist). Even though his successful first novel The Yacoubian Building became an...


Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Palakean

On April 24, 1915, someone knocked on Grigoris Balakian's door in Constantinople (as the city was then known) and told him that he needed to head down to the police station to speak to the authorities. He wouldn't return home for three and a half years. Balakian, a vartabed (a celibate priest) and...


I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass

In National Book Award–winner Julia Glass's third novel, sisters Louisa and Clem Jardine take turns recounting their lives across twenty-five years. Cautious Harvard grad Louisa, an artist turned Manhattan arts editor, resents and envies her younger sister, a seemingly carefree wildlife biologist,...


The Best Game Ever: Giants Vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern Nfl by Mark Bowden

[Ed. note: This review covers two books, The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL and A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL]. One of the biggest shifts in American popular culture in the past half century...


How Fiction Works by James Wood

Books about the art and technique of fiction writing seem to fall into separate and distinct categories. Some are helpful, borderline inspiring, while others -- the ones that equate the art of writing with the art of anything: real estate development, professional football, cooking -- tend to...


Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

In many respects Annie Dillard's book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, is so ingratiating that even readers who find themselves in fundamental disagreement with it may take pleasure from it, a good deal of pleasure. Of course confirmed city-dwellers, who want no more of nature than a Sunday stroll in the...


Quipu by Arthur Sze

In Quipu, Arthur Sze's eighth collection of poetry, the focus on various disciplines -- nature, philosophy, history, science, anthropology -- never seems gimmicky or trite. The focus never forces a metaphor or draws false attention to a topic in order to make new some old poetic trick. Sze's focus...


A Sun Within a Sun: The Power and Elegance of Poetry by Claire Chi-ah Lyu

If Baudelaire had the popular reach of Dr. Phil, this book would be an instant bestseller, so inspirational is its message, so articulate its conclusions. In evocative prose and far-reaching scholarship, Lyu attempts to distill the astounding, impulsive power of poetry -- its spiritual value, its...


Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew by Samuel Fromartz

No wonder there now is a fledgling food reform movement calling itself Beyond Organic. After reading Organic, Inc. one begins to understand why some would feel a need to go "Beyond Organic." The current requirements for labeling a good as organic would, theoretically, permit frozen Twinkies at your ...


Recovering Your Story: Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison by Arnold Weinstein

When All Is Said and Done: A Novel by Robert Hill

Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved by Gregory Orr

All Will Be Well: A Memoir by John McGahern

Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories by Cristina Henriquez

Let Me Finish by Roger Angell


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