06 February 2014

Book Review: The Foot Soldier by Mark Rubinstein

Goodreads description (x):
A searing novella about the conflict that changed America. The Foot Soldier brings you to the hell of jungle combat. Close your eyes and this novella takes you there. It conveys the terror and brutality of jungle warfare and their effect on the American riflemen--those who bore the greatest burden. It's every bit as compelling as The Things They Carried.

My rating: 4 out of 5 hoots 

 I admit, I initially picked this book to read thinking it would serve as an "easy" read in-between all the non-fiction on my reading list.

I'm a bit of a war fanatic in the sense that I appreciate reading war materials, come from a military family that has served in several wars, and have worked with veterans. Still, I've never been in a war. So when I come across something like Mark Rubinstein's "The Foot Soldier," where he is able to take the reader inside of a war, inside of a humid jungle full of mosquitoes and predators and booby traps and probably most of all fear, I'm beyond captivated.

Though it was a short read--less than an hour--I felt the pain of young Costa every step of the way, especially to the heart-breaking decision at the end. There are choices we have to make in our lives that are so mind-blowing, we can't even comprehend them at that second. I think no one knows the meaning of that sentence better than the men serving in our forces, the ones who make hard choices every single day.

So--was this the best book about war I've ever read? No. Was the ending the best it could have been? Not really. But did it grip me emotionally? Absolutely. I nearly choked trying to hold back tears while reading certain passages. My body tensed up subconsciously as I read with a fast pace about Costa's journey serving "point." I'm done with the book and my nerves are frayed, my thoughts are scattered, and I'm anything but calm. That's what makes a good story.

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