GHOSTS OF WAR by Ryan Smithson
Kirkus Star


My Tour of Duty
Age Range: 14 & up
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Ryan Smithson was a typical 16-year-old high-school student until 9/11. “I’d thought about joining the military the moment I saw the towers fall,” he writes in this profoundly moving memoir. Smithson enlisted in the Army Reserve the following year and, a year into the Iraq war, was deployed to an Army engineer unit as a heavy-equipment operator. His poignant, often harrowing account, especially vivid in sensory details, chronicles his experiences in basic training and in Iraq. “Only after we have been completely destroyed can we begin to find ourselves,” Smithson writes of basic training, offering an unflinchingly honest portrait of the physical and psychological brutality of that experience. His account of his tour of duty in Iraq is no less compelling. He lucidly recounts the intensity of battle and the pain of losing comrades. For Smithson, the war is a source of personal enlightenment, and this memoir is a remarkable, deeply penetrating read that will compel teens to reflect on their own thoughts about duty, patriotism and sacrifice. (Memoir. YA)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-166468-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2009


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