There is no sense of purpose that cannot be shaken by the sight of a thirsty dog on the streets of Baghdad, lapping up the blood of your fellow soldier.
The Good Soldiers is the story of an infantry battalion nicknamed the 2-16 Rangers, which was sent to Baghdad in early 2007 as part of the new strategy known as “the surge”. Led by the relentlessly upbeat Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, the young soldiers of the 2-16 arrived in Baghdad with energy and optimism, determined to be the difference between success and failure in the mission to secure the city. After fifteen months, the surviving members of the 2-16 returned home to Fort Riley, Kansas, forever changed by their experience in Iraq – some decorated with medals of valor, some badly damaged in body and mind.
Finkel was embedded with the 2-16 for several months of their deployment. His account depicts vivid scenes from the violent, sewage-clogged streets of eastern Baghdad, such as the gruesome impact of a $100 improvised explosive device (IED) on a $100,000 armored vehicle; it also enters burn units and trauma wards in the U.S. and in the field, where soldiers and their families pay the unseen price of the war. In The Good Soldiers, several hundred young men search for value in what they are doing, and struggle to feel as confident as their commander – and commander-in-chief – that “the surge is working”.
David Finkel is the National Enterprise Editor of The Washington Post. He was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. Finkel lives with his wife and two daughters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
DVD 2010-04-28: David Finkel
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