Penguin Pr. Mar. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781594204999. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698151642. F
OrangeReviewStarThe Iraq War and its aftermath is the subject of this powerful and unflinching compendium, which explores the true cost of serving in combat on the human body and, more important, the human psyche. The title story focuses on the alienation of a soldier returning to domestic life after experiencing the brutality of serving on the front lines. "Money as a Weapons System" concerns a foreign service officer who discovers another side of war's absurdity when he is forced to teach a group of Iraqis how to play baseball to satisfy the whims of a wealthy political donor. "Praying in the Furnace" movingly portrays a Catholic chaplain who comes to understand the nature of faith after all illusion is stripped away as he ministers to soldiers who face death daily.
VERDICT Klay brilliantly captures the alternating terror and banality of modern war in details such as soldiers who relax by playing video games after returning to their quarters from a patrol. Harrowing at times and blackly comic at others, the author's first collection could become for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts what Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is for the Vietnam War. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/13.]
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