J. Kael Weston spent seven years on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan working for the US State Department in some of the most dangerous frontline locations. Upon his return home, while traveling the country to pay respect to the dead and wounded, he asked himself: When will these wars end? How will they be remembered and memorialized? What lessons can we learn from them?
These are questions with no quick answers but perhaps ones that might lead to a shared reckoning worthy of the sacrifices of those - troops and civilians alike - whose lives have been changed by more than a decade and a half of war.
Weston takes us from Twentynine Palms in California to Fallujah in Iraq, Khost and Helmand in Afghanistan, Maryland, Colorado, Wyoming, and New York City as well as to out-of-the-way places in Iowa and Texas. We meet generals, corporals and captains, senators and ambassadors, NATO allies, Iraqi truck drivers, city councils, imams and mullahs, Afghan schoolteachers, madrassa and college students, former Taliban fighters and ex-Guantánamo prison detainees, a torture victim, SEAL and Delta Force teams, and many marines.
The overall frame for the book, from which the title is taken, centers on soldiers who have received grievous wounds to the face. There is a moment during their recovery when they must look upon their reconstructed appearances for the first time. This is known as "the mirror test". From an intricate tapestry of voices and stories - Iraqi, Afghan, and American - Weston delivers a larger mirror test for our nation in its global role. An unflinching and deep examination of the interplay between warfare and diplomacy, this is an essential book - a crucial look at America now, how it is viewed in the world, and how the nation views itself.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jessica Myrick on 04-06-16
A Must Read
As an American with no personal ties to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan it is (and has been) incredibly easy to overlook the toll that these wars have taken on our country, our soldiers, their families, and the natives of the countries invaded. This book provides raw insight into the true costs of war, and the price paid by all involved. This is the first book about any war that I've ever read, but after doing so I feel compelled, and obligated as an American citizen, to learn more and ask more about America's engagement in previous and future wars. Thank you Mr. Weston for your service, and for bravely and honestly telling your story.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Kim T Adamson on 04-08-17
As good as the first time
I've listened to this audiobook six times and hear new things I missed before. I'm ready to listen again.
I've especially enjoyed sharing this audiobook with other Marines who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan as I did.
I thought the authors narration of his book was the perfect choice with his voice inflections spot on with stories told. I personally related to this book 100%.