The Literature of the Iraq War

Guest Article by: 
Mike Freedman
Photo by: 
David Guttenfelder/AP

With the never-ending war in Iraq back on, let’s take a minute to examine some of the best artistic works to come out of that war and the one in Afghanistan.

Certainly at the top of that list would be Michael Pitre’s FIVES AND TWENTY-FIVES. Told from the point of view of two Marines and their Iraqi interpreter, it is a moving tale that also encompasses their adjustment as they return home to things like business school and the Arab Spring. It has a distinctly un-MFA feel to its prose and storytelling magic, which comes as a welcomed relief to fans of literary fiction in today’s world of overly workshopped prose and every-novel-feeling-alike literary era. Though not as heralded as THE YELLOW BIRDS or REDEPLOYMENT, it deserves to be, and over time, I believe, it will be read as much as those works. The author is a Marine who served two tours in Iraq and now resides in New Orleans, joining the ranks of the authors in that fabled literary town. He is at work on his second novel.

As a veteran myself of the recent war, I would also recommend the following works on the subject:

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060885618
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - November 27th, 2012

Unquestionably the greatest novel dealing with the military experience post-9/11. Indeed, it is perhaps the Great American Post-9/11 Novel. Impossible to describe other than to say a tour de force of storytelling and empathy for an infantry soldier and his fellow teammates who are put on a propaganda tour for the war and spend a surreal 24 hours in Dallas on the day of the annual Cowboys Thanksgiving day game. Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee.

Green on Blue Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476778556
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Scribner Book Company - February 17th, 2015

A debut novel written by a veteran of Special Operations, it is set in Afghanistan. A moving story, and told from the point of view of an Afghani. It ranks at the top of works to come out of the wars.

Eleven Days (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307951038
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - March 11th, 2014

A debut novel about a mother and her son who goes missing in a Special Operations raid. A good tale, which is distinguished by being seen from the perspective of a female. It is also being turned into a movie.

Mike Freedman lives in Houston, where he was born and raised. After graduating college, he served in the Army in the infantry and in the Special Forces as a Green Beret. His first novel, SCHOOL BOARD, about Enron was released in 2014.

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