The reflections of a patriotic American soldier who was eventually overcome by disillusionment.
Debut author De Veas pens an unusual autobiographical account of his participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He presents a series of commentaries on journal entries he composed during his experience as a soldier in the Middle East. Sometimes the author strays from the beaten path of a linear memoir, providing his observations on a wide range of topics—organized religion, the Cannes Film Festival, the Roman Empire, Hooters, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Che Guevara, swelling his account to nearly 500 pages in length. Other times, sections of the narrative are studiously redacted, though it’s not always clear what motivates the self-censorship. In some instances, he provides a shell of a story sans details, which is so confusing he would likely be better off simply excluding it: “The last passage has to do with an item I redacted. I did not give the lieutenant my word about what I would do about a specific incident of which he was a big part, but he thought I did. He wanted to know what I was going to do about reporting a particular situation. He heard what a desperate person always wants to hear when he or she is in a predicament, but he didn’t listen to exactly what I said when he interrogated me.” De Veas is true to the title of the book: He is one angry writer, and his ire animates every page of this book as he inveighs against his peers, his superiors, politicians, foreigners and just about anyone he encounters. The tale opens with his experience of rage and disappointment about his “six-month train up,” or what he often refers to as his “self-imposed jail sentence.” Furious at his prolonged training exercises in advance of deployment to Iraq, the author seethes at what he considers to be a squandering of his soldierly experience and, ultimately, a sign of American decline. He ends the book with a spirited complaint about the anodyne use of the expression “Happy Holidays” in favor of “Merry Christmas” and raises the possibility that other “angry books” may be forthcoming. Future readers have been forewarned.
For those who find catharsis in the fury of others, this book will be an enlivening read.