by Joseph Kassabian
Lexington, Ky.: White Dog Books, 2017. Pp. 280.
. $14.95 paper. ISBN: 0692754695
A Soldier’s Year in Afghanistan
Author Kassabian, a U.S. Army veteran, with of several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, offers us a solder’s eye view of his 2011-2012 tour in a forsaken corner of Kandahar Province, in southern Afghanistan. Kassabian gives us a gritty, frequently profane, and often sarcastic look at his experience of military life and war as it unfolded, with anecdotes and incidents ranging from the ridiculous to the terrifying.
Kassabian liberally seasons his account with the trivial ironies of war, so, for example, while boarding an aircraft heavily laden with his arms and equipment, he was nevertheless deprived of his nail clipper! There are frequent at the REMFs, the poorly regarded – often rightfully so – rear echelon personnel “managing” the war from comfortable, safe places far from the fighting. And he gives us several good battle pieces. There are also well some often biting word portraits of comrades, superiors, and Afghan officials, though Kassabian masks their identities with pseudonyms. He also offers some critiques of equipment and military policies, and more as well.
Kassabian also gives us insights into how men act under fire, and how the bonds forged in combat often endure afterwards, as when, with some of his comrades, he helps get their Afghan translator to the safety of the United States.
Though it’s somewhat disjointed, and might have benefited from better proof reading, an index, a map and some illustrations – surely someone had a camera – The Hooligans of Kandahar is a good first hand account of men at war.
Note: The Hooligans of Kandahar is also available in several e-editions.