What Was Asked of Us Review
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Soldiers always have stories to tell, but getting them to tell those stories to you if you havenít lived through combat is often a difficult thing to do. One of the better oral histories of any war is Al Santoliís Everything We Had, the re-telling of the Vietnam War by 33 of the people who lived and fought it. Trish Wood has attempted to get that genie to come back out of the bottle in What Was Asked of Us: An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It. Wood got the privilege of hearing about the current Iraq War from 29 of the soldiers and Marines who have been there. While she didnít quite get to the same level as Santoli, she comes close.

Woodís background as a reporter in Canada lets her get to the heart of the subject without imposing her own voice on those about whom sheís reporting. This may be the first book about Iraq to tell the stories of the men and women doing the fighting just for the sake of getting them told.

  
 
The stories in this book are raw. Emotionally and verbally, these stories pack a punch that could put Ali on the mat back when he was in his prime. They resonate because they are all the purest form of the truth. No two of them are the same, but the warriors telling them might well be different pieces of one person. Their words paint a picture of a war that isnít being covered by any of the major media outlets.

The war in this book is not about ousting a rouge regime, or about oil, or about freedom and democracy. No, this war is about the buddies who are next to these soldiers when itís time to kick doors down. Itís a war that leaves pieces of Marines scattered across a city block, for other Marines to pick up and ship home in bags. Itís a war where a soldier can talk about how great it feels to be in the middle of a firefight, even if itís in a war he canít bring himself to believe in. The war in this book is personal, and it is permanent. It has left a stain on the people to whom Wood listened, and that stain wonít ever truly come clean.

With all of the hours and pages devoted to the Global War on Terror, itís hard to understand why we donít see more of this type of book. Trish Wood has written a book that can only be called a must-read. My hat is off to her for getting these stories into print.


Ed. Note: To listen to soldiers share their experiences, visit Trish Woodís MySpace page.

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