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Redeployment Hardcover – Mar 11 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (March 11 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594204993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594204999
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on March 4 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
You won't find any sappy sentimentality or off-putting macho muscle flexing in Phil Klay's REDEPLOYMENT, a collection of twelve stories that all deal with combatants and veterans of the Iraq war. Nope. These stories are about as real and honest as anything you'll find being written these days about how the crucible of this war has affected the young men and women who were part of it, and, who have been irrevocably changed by it.

While there is not a false note to be found in any of these tales, the one that I found perhaps most affecting was "Prayer in the Furnace," told by a Catholic priest, a Marine Corps chaplain whose own faith is severely tested as he struggles to give aid to Marines severely traumatized physically, emotionally and spiritually by repeated combat tours. Men whose brains have been buffeted by blasts from IEDs and whose consciences are deadened and wracked by unspeakable atrocities witnessed - and committed - on a near-daily basis. The chaplain's role in a combat unit seems sadly marginalized, however, and although he turns for guidance to the writings of St John of the Cross and Augustine, in the end he feels frustrated, powerless and ashamed. (This story in particular I felt could be the basis for an equally powerful novel.)

There are also stories here of veterans trying to adjust, to assimilate back into civilian life; and struggling, feeling set apart, different. A former JAG officer who never saw combat, but did the paperwork, now a law student ready to enter a high-paying career, still feeling "more like a Marine out of the Corps than I'd felt while in it ... to everyone I met, I was 'the Marine.
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Each war has its own type of fictional writing. Iraq was very different from say Vietnam as character remarks. In Iraq, troops seem to have been totally isolated from their surroundings except to go out on killing raids.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 211 reviews
92 of 99 people found the following review helpful
None Can Understand Nov. 28 2013
By Eileen Granfors - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I am a soldier's daughter. Because my father served in World War II (Navy then), he did not speak of the war to me when he came home. It wasn't done.

But as I came through the Vietnam era in college and saw my students go off to wars in the Middle East as a teacher, I became more and more obsessed with understanding war.

REDEPLOYMENT by Phil Klay gives a variety of perspectives of war. Because he uses short stories and a number of narrators, Klay can move from returned vet at the height of his PTSD to bored Foreign Service Officer trying to put Iraqi kids into baseball uniforms because someone upstairs wants a PR picture. Never mind that the child rounded up may have been working on an IED the day before. The plight of the soldier, his amped up emotions and his training to be vigilant, to KILL or BE KILLED, overrides all other themes. Whether a man has endured burns all over his body or has been awarded a Medal of Valor, the wars of this century have marked a generation of men (and women, whom Klay acknowledges) as surely as WWI marked Wilfred Owens, the poet.

This is a bruising, snarling, hair-tearing blast of the breaths of death and war. Phil Klay, you speak of what you know.

Though mankind does not seem to learn from the history of war, voices like Klay's help to remind those safely watching the evening news that the soldiers are people's sons, daughters, husbands, wives and the "collateral damage" includes children and families with no interest in politics or global strategies. Klay's narrators give us the shifting tides of war with the constant of harm, ruin, and pain.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
The Stories You Don't See in the Headlines Jan. 13 2014
By asiana - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The various short stories in this collection tell the REAL cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and are more vivid than any war movie you might see on the screen. Through the eyes of one narrator, one feels the anxiety of a Marine sent out day after day on patrol, unknowing if the kids he sees on the street are just kids or are planting IEDs which could kill him. One feels the frustration of a Foreign Service Officer whose efforts to get a pipeline working is next to impossible due to the hatred between Sunnis and Shi'a. This same officer is told to use donated funds to provide baseball shirts to Iraqis even though they don't play baseball which shows that the US is the goose that lays the golden egg. A chaplain uses care packages from the US addressed "To Any Marine" to provide "cover" for those marines who are reluctant tot admit that they want to talk about concerns. The newspapers never talk about the use of drugs to help one sleep nor is there any mention of a "contact board" to show which platoon has the most engagements with the enemy. And, although the media convey much of the hardships veterans face when returning home, the story of a Marine who shot dogs who were eating corpses in Iraq and how his deployment affected him upon his return to civilian life, broke my heart. This is a book that should be read!!
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Conflict and Its Consequences in Two Wars Dec 23 2013
By not a natural - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Phil Klay's Redeployment is a collection of stories prompted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Redeployment is also the title of the lead story, which was also the lead in an earlier collection rooted in the same conflicts and titled Fire and Forget. Redeployment the story is simply brilliant. The experience of coming home after seven months in combat is described in a way that enables the reader to almost accomplish the impossible: experience this awkwardly joyful process as the Marines actually experience it.

The story deftly avoids the maudlin tears-of-joy theme that would have been convenient and easy to exploit as Marines are reunited with their families and loved ones. Instead, Klay gives us a realistic mix of humor, jubilation, sadness, humiliation, desperation, and the vague but soon-to-pass discomfort that comes from being reunited with those closest to us who have become, for the short term, a bit unfamiliar. Things like kissing your wife or hugging your child are not quite as automatically easy and taken for granted as they were seven months before. In most instances, things will return quickly to normal, but for now even the once intimately familiar takes a little getting accustomed to.

When I reviewed Fire and Forget, I noted that the story Redeployment is one of very few works of fiction that, at special places, made me turn away, wince, and feel like crying. The way Klay melds military training with love for an old friend that has suffered long enough is mesmerizing. Cold steel, hot lead, a serene wooded area, and the instantaneous termination of pain perfectly define the end of a relationship characterized by real love. It's something you can't imagine until you've read it.

The other stories in Redeployment range in quality from very good to worth reading but not moving or inspirational. To a greater or lesser degree, however, the one thing they all have in common is an instructive nature that helps readers understand the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in ways that otherwise would never have occurred to us. The same informative detail applies to the individual soldiers and Marines who served in combat and sometimes worked in excruciatingly mundane support roles. After all, someone has to clean up the body parts and see that they are properly identified and sorted.

In some stories there seems to be a gratuitous over-use of acronyms that state-side civilians don't recognize and can't figure out. However, anyone who has been in the service knows that that's the way it is. I was in the army for nearly two years before I realized that "I Corps" (pronounced "eye corps") was a large unit designated the First Corps, then stationed in Korea. Soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen often go through an entire enlistment responding correctly to an acronym, something like USASESS, without knowing what it means. (United States Army Southeastern Signal School, though that was 45 years ago, and it probably has a different name and acronym now.) The military is, indeed, a world apart with its own language and culture, and Klay skillfully makes this clear, especially in the story titled Frago.

In Money as a Weapons System, Klay does a fine job of reporting the almost unbelievable stupidity, greed, and ideological inflexibility that terminally hamper efforts to promote economic and other forms of essential development in Third World nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Money as a Weapons System makes abundantly evident that the idiots are most often not the ones wearing uniforms, but out-of-touch civilians who are frequently not even in-country. Members of the military and the civilians working closest with them do the best they can with the orders they're given, even when the directives are patently senseless. Ironically, however, even the most seasoned veterans of hopelessly misguided nation-building sometimes acknowledge that, in spite of the nonsensical nature of so many developmental efforts, over time things do get a bit better. I was surprised when I read this observation made by an experienced army major, and I believed him, but I'm still trying to make sense of it.

Prayer in the Furnace is a story that sometimes devolves into platitudes, bromides, cliche's, and obvious pastoral blunders. Nevertheless, it does a creditable job of making painfully evident the psychological cost of long-term combat. Yes, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is one debilitating consequence, but so are uncomplicated but deeply felt guilt and shame, sometimes sources of anguish that simply can't be put down and may lead to self-destruction. How do you cope with the death of the closest friend you've ever had? How do you come to terms with the accidental killing of a child, or the intentional killing of a child who has been turned into an unwitting warrior? What do you do when your commanding officer is a reckless butcher who has no interest in his men's welfare and demands that they kill anything that looks even vaguely suspicious?

The weakest stories in Redeployment, especially Psychological Operations, are set entirely state-side. They're not completely without merit, but they don't measure up to the interest generated by the rest of Klay's collection. Nevertheless, a story that forces us to to ask ourselves how we'd function in civilian life if we'd had our face burned off by a battlefield explosion is almost certain to hit home. A horrifying question posed by the short piece titled War Stories.

Redeployment is an uneven collection, but from stories that are brilliant to those that are so-so, every page warrants reading. It doesn't matter if the reader is pro-war, anti-war, or indifferent, Redeployment is a good book.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Pay attention. As real and honest as it gets. Highly recommended. March 4 2014
By Timothy J. Bazzett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
You won't find any sappy sentimentality or off-putting macho muscle flexing in Phil Klay's REDEPLOYMENT, a collection of twelve stories that all deal with combatants and veterans of the Iraq war. Nope. These stories are about as real and honest as anything you'll find being written these days about how the crucible of this war has affected the young men and women who were part of it, and, who have been irrevocably changed by it.

While there is not a false note to be found in any of these tales, the one that I found perhaps most affecting was "Prayer in the Furnace," told by a Catholic priest, a Marine Corps chaplain whose own faith is severely tested as he struggles to give aid to Marines severely traumatized physically, emotionally and spiritually by repeated combat tours. Men whose brains have been buffeted by blasts from IEDs and whose consciences are deadened and wracked by unspeakable atrocities witnessed - and committed - on a near-daily basis. The chaplain's role in a combat unit seems sadly marginalized, however, and although he turns for guidance to the writings of St John of the Cross and Augustine, in the end he feels frustrated, powerless and ashamed. (This story in particular I felt could be the basis for an equally powerful novel.)

There are also stories here of veterans trying to adjust, to assimilate back into civilian life; and struggling, feeling set apart, different. A former JAG officer who never saw combat, but did the paperwork, now a law student ready to enter a high-paying career, still feeling "more like a Marine out of the Corps than I'd felt while in it ... to everyone I met, I was 'the Marine.'" ("Unless It's a Sucking Chest Wound")

There is the very dark humor of combat vets, as displayed in "War Stories" in which the narrator jokes about hitting on girls in bars, and using his friend Jenks's awful disfigurement from burns sustained in an IED explosion, saying, "Who's gonna call bulls**t when you're sitting there in the corner looking all Nightmare on Elm Street?"

"Bodies" tells of a young Marine who works in Mortuary Affairs, a job which, of course, requires him to handle the mutilated bodies of both U.S. dead and enemy dead. But the title takes on an even more poignant meaning when he goes home on leave and seeks out his ex-girlfriend from high school. After dealing so much in death and dead bodies he needed desperately to feel the opposite. Convincing her of this, they lie quietly, their bodies spooned together.

"There was a warmth to her that flowed into me, and though she was tense at first, like she'd been earlier, she relaxed after a bit and it stopped feeling like I was grabbing her and more like we were fitting into each other. I relaxed too, all the sharp edges of my body lost in the feel of her. Her hips, her legs, her hair, the nape of her neck. Her hair smelled like citrus, and her neck smelled softly of sweat. I wanted to kiss her there because I knew I'd taste salt."

There is little or no eroticism in this scene. It is more a depiction of a simple yet urgent need for human warmth and contact - of an ineffable longing, of loneliness.

I could cite other examples of how each of these stories grabbed me, made me pay attention. Oddly, I am suddenly reminded of that desperate closing scene from DEATH OF A SALESMAN, in which Willy Loman's distraught widow cries out, "Attention must be paid!" Because these stories without question deserve our attention. In a country where the burden of military service is shouldered by a mere one percent of the population, these Marines and soldiers deserve not just our attention, but our utmost respect and gratitude.

REDEPLOYMENT is a damn good book. It will deservedly join the ranks of other fine fictional works coming out of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, books like THE YELLOW BIRDS, YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE, and THE WATCH. Well done, Mr. Klay. Highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the Cold War memoir, SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Marine Comes Back from Iraq to Make Us Feel Like We Were There March 9 2014
By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Not since Thom Jones' The Pugilist at Rest, a collection of stories mostly centered on a Marine vet who toured Vietnam published about twenty years ago, have I read a short story collection about the "war experience" that is so riveting and philosophically rich, in turn addressing PTSD, theodicy (suffering in the face of an all-powerful, all-loving God), the difficulty of love and reconciling soldier mode with civilian mode.

In unadorned prose Phil Klay, a Marine who toured Iraq and picked up dead bodies, did MP work, and provided social services to sick children and women among a plethora of other things, makes us feel like we're in Iraq, makes us feel the pain of war, and makes us feel the awkwardness of returning to the States, trying to undertake the excruciating task of integrating a fragmented self into civilian life. In one story, he juxtaposes a shooting spree of stray dogs in Iraq with the task of ending the life of his beloved rescue dog that is suffering in old age. In another, he addresses the absurdities of trying to implement social services in war-torn Iraq underneath a labyrinth of bureaucracy. In another he visits, his fiancé and realizes that after his war tour they are worlds apart. In another a priest tries to summon his theology to understand the suffering he sees as war vets with PTSD die brutal deaths or commit suicide.

My favorite stories read like autobiographical essays. They have an immediacy about them that makes me forget I am reading but rather am experiencing the unspeakable grotesqueries of war. Highly recommended.

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