Baghdad Blues: A Novel of the Iraq War

Casemate. Jun. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781636241722. pap. $22.95. F
Kendel’s (Walking the Tiger’s Path: A Soldier’s Spiritual Journey in Iraq) first novel navigates the perpetual fog of war and emerges strong on the other side, with its hero attempting to achieve inner peace while a war rages around him. Sgt. Thomas Kierkegaard is serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, witnessing chaotic scenes of combat during his tour. Yet his personal life contains nearly as much havoc. He has lost his job and his wife; his original tour with the National Guard, which began stateside, has now led to his unit being reassigned to Iraq, where the insurgency upended the assumed victory (President Bush’s premature “Mission Accomplished”). In Iraq his experiences verge from homesickness to boredom to danger. Questions about winning hearts and minds of the occupied Iraqis gain traction with every wrongly fired bullet or rocket. With each day closer to leaving Iraq, his survival becomes one more question.
VERDICT Kierkegaard is an imperfect hero, an efficient soldier who bridles at the bumbling orders of high command. Fans of the movies Jarhead and Full Metal Jacket will appreciate the journey Kierkegaard is on.
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