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The Junior Officers' Reading Club by the author Patrick Hennessey

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The Junior Officers' Reading Club
Genre: Biography , History , Non-Fiction , War
Series: missing
Ratings: ★★★★☆☆
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Pub Year:
ISBN: 9781594484797
List Price: 0.00
Download: EPUB MOBI


Hailed as a classic of war writing in the U.K., The Junior Officers' Reading Club is a revelatory first-hand account of a young enlistee's profound coming of age. Attempting to stave off the tedium and pressures of army life in the Iraqi desert by losing themselves in the dusty paperbacks on the transit-camp bookshelves, Hennessey and a handful of his pals from military academy form the Junior Officers' Reading Club. By the time he reaches Afghanistan and the rest of the club are scattered across the Middle East, they are no longer cheerfully overconfident young recruits, hungering for action and glory. Hennessey captures how boys grow into men amid the frenetic, sometimes exhilarating violence, frequent boredom, and almost overwhelming responsibilities that frame a soldier's experience and the way we fight today.

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From Publishers Weekly

While no doubt the bravado with which Hennessy frames his account of daily life in a war zone reveals the crucial but often overlooked heart and mind of a soldier, the unsettling results confirm the vapid promises of war: that in battle, there is no context, no history, but only boredom, adrenaline, or grief. "Fun," "thrill," and "excitement" drive Hennessy, and apparently his comrades as well, even after a lot of blood and death; that this fact endures becomes more horrifying than the wars enveloping them. Hennessy's story jumps from daily life at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, to drills in the British countryside, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sum of these parts never quite adds up to a cohesive tale, though sections share a hurried disjointedness that occasionally comes off as narrative momentum. The jargon and relentless use of acronyms certainly captures military speech but obscures the basic development of many scenes. Though a glossary of terms is included, flipping for every DTDF, OPTAG NCO, and GPMG would make for more back-and-forth than any attention span would permit.
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From Booklist

Starred Review Oxford graduate Hennessey decided he wanted to do something exciting, so he went to Sandhurst, England’s Royal Military Academy, and then to Bosnia, Iraq, and, ultimately, Afghanistan as a lieutenant and platoon leader in the Grenadier Guards. There he found what he was looking for, and this voluble, kinetic, and often funny book recounts his experiences. He’s cheeky about Sandhurst, describing it as “Hogwarts with guns” and asserting that military knowledge and leadership were taught primarily through “MARCHING, IRONING, and SHOUTING,” but he also acknowledges the program’s effectiveness. (He became the Royal Army’s youngest captain.) His time in Iraq melded boredom and frustration because he and his fellow guards realized they “weren’t going to have a fight” in Baghdad; with time on their hands, Hennessey and his fellow junior guards formed the titular reading club. Reassigned to Afghanistan, however, he found his fights, which rivaled Korea and even WWII in intensity. The book’s pace, never leisurely, accelerates in Afghanistan, as Hennessey vividly describes near-constant battle with Taliban fighters and confronts his reactions: exhaustion, fear, grief, fellowship, confusion, and what he calls the “rapture” of war. All wars generate fine books. This may be one of the best to come out of the war in Afghanistan. --Thomas Gaughan