Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Freebie: Afghan Post by Adrian Bonenberger, Friday Was the Bomb by Nathan Deuel, and Seriously Not All Right by Ron Capps

Congratulations to Sarah Yaw, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Orion's Daughters by Courtney Elizabeth Mauk.

This week's book contest is a trio of must-read war memoirs: Afghan Post by Adrian Bonenberger, Friday Was the Bomb by Nathan Deuel, and Seriously Not All Right by Ron Capps.  One lucky reader will win a copy of all three.  Afghan Post and Friday Was the Bomb are softcovers and Seriously Not All Right is a hardcover (and signed by the author).  Here's a little more about the books...

Apart from several entertaining glossaries of military terms, Afghan Post is told entirely through letters and emails Adrian Bonenberger wrote to family, friends, and fellow soldiers.  The book begins when Adrian is a young adult teaching in Japan and feeling a little adrift in his life.  After 9/11, he answers an inner call to duty by signing up for the Army.  He's sent to officer basic training and we follow him through the course of his education and subsequent deployments to Afghanistan (twice).  What begins as gung-ho slowly and inevitably fragments and disintegrates into a deep questioning of a military system frustrated by the follies of foreign policy.  Of the three Friday Freebies, it's the one I've read (the others are in my To-Be-Read pile) and I whole-heartedly endorse it for anyone who wants to know how a military officer is built, from the boots up.  Here's what Anthony Swofford (Jarhead) had to say about it: "Afghan Post is a deeply felt and poetically resonant epistolary memoir.  I love the form and the way that Bonenberger is able to inhabit the multiple and fractured selves that emerge from the experience of combat.  This is a book that will bring the madness and beauty of combat right down into your shaking hands."

At once a meditation on fatherhood, an unusual memoir of a war correspondent's spouse, and a first-hand account from the front lines of the most historic events of recent days--the Arab Spring, the end of the Iraq war, and the unrest in Syria--Friday Was The Bomb is a searing collection of timely and absorbing essays.  In 2008, Nathan Deuel, a former editor at Rolling Stone and The Village Voice, and his wife, a National Public Radio foreign correspondent, moved to the deeply Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to see for themselves what was happening in the Middle East.  There they had a daughter, and later, while his wife filed reports from Baghdad and Syria, car bombs erupted and one night a firefight raged outside the family's apartment in Beirut.  Their marriage strained, and they struggled with the decision to stay or go home.  "Nathan Deuel is alive to the myriad contradictions of being a sentient being at this moment in history—the painful, necessary awareness that ones presence carries an entire empire in its shadow.  Friday was the Bomb is about the tension between how much we want and how small we are—some will make war, the world will makes storm, and the rest of us will try to hold onto some fragile connection with each other.  This is a book for the rest of us." (Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City)

Subtitled "Five Wars in Ten Years," Ron Capps' Seriously Not All Right is a gut-level honest account of the toll war can take on one person.  I've had the privilege meeting Ron and hearing him talk about the book and I can tell you he is the Real Deal.  He's got a great story to tell and I can't wait to read it soon.  In the meantime, here's the publisher's jacket copy for the book: For more than a decade, Ron Capps, serving as both a senior military intelligence officer and as a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. Department of State, was witness to war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.  From government atrocities in Kosovo, to the brutal cruelties perpetrated in several conflicts in central Africa, the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and culminating in genocide in Darfur, Ron acted as an intelligence collector and reporter but was diplomatically restrained from taking preventative action in these conflicts.  The cumulative effect of these experiences, combined with the helplessness of his role as an observer, propelled him into a deep depression and a long bout with PTSD, which nearly caused him to take his own life.  Seriously Not All Right is a memoir that provides a unique perspective of a professional military officer and diplomat who suffered (and continues to suffer) from PTSD.  His story, and that of his recovery and his newfound role as founder and teacher of the Veterans Writing Project, is an inspiration and a sobering reminder of the cost of all wars, particularly those that appeared in the media and to the general public as merely sidelines in the unfolding drama of world events.  Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say about it: "This searing memoir recounts the horrors Capps encountered and their devastating effects on his psyche and soul.  Capps’s telling of his story of war and bearing witness is vitally important for the 99% of Americans who sat out the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."

If you’d like a chance at winning a copy of Afghan Post, Friday Was the Bomb, and Seriously Not All Right, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on May 1, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on May 2.  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.

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