“Here is what you will not find in the news–the personal cost of war written as clear and beautiful as literature worthy of the name is. These stories are the real thing, passionate, imaginative, searing.”
–Richard Bausch, author of Wives & Lovers
The first book of its kind, Operation Homecoming is the result of a major initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to bring distinguished writers to military bases and inspire U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen and their families to record their wartime experiences. Encouraged by such authors as Tom Clancy, Mark Bowden, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tobias Wolff, Jeff Shaara, and Marilyn Nelson, American military personnel and their loved ones wrote candidly about what they saw, heard, and felt while in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as on the home front. Taken together, these almost one hundred never-before-published eyewitness accounts, private journals, short stories, letters, and other personal writings become a dramatic narrative that shows the human side of warfare.
• the fear and exhilaration of heading into battle;
• the interactions between U.S. forces and Afghans and Iraqis, both as enemies and friends;
• the boredom, gripes, and humorous incidents of day-to-day life on the front lines;
• the anxiety and heartache of worried spouses, parents, and other loved ones on the home front;
• the sheer brutality of warfare and the physical and emotional toll it takes on those who fight;
• the tearful homecomings for those who returned to the States alive– and the somber ceremonies for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.
From riveting combat accounts to profound reflections on warfare and the pride these troops feel for one another, Operation Homecoming offers an unflinching and intensely revealing look into the lives of extraordinary men and women. What they have written is without question some of the greatest wartime literature ever published.
“Andrew Carroll has given America a priceless treasure.”
–Tom Brokaw, on War Letters
Proceeds from this book will be used to provide arts and cultural programming to U.S. military communities. For more information, please go to www.OperationHomecoming.gov.
This beautifully edited compilation of writings from modern warriors and their loved ones contains a wonderful range of voices and experience. Culled from an NEA call for the personal stories of service members and their families-a call that resulted in some ten thousand pages of material-the writing on display might make one think war transformed these untrained writers into fearless poets, ready and able to tackle the big topics: heartbreak, courage, sheer pluck and God-awful horror. Divided into six sections, including "Heading into Combat," the "Daily Grind" and "Life on the Home Front," Carroll has pulled together dozens of unique voices to achieve the "integrity and authenticity ... of a full spectrum of viewpoints and experiences." The results, a series of short, charged narratives that generally range from one to ten pages, are heartening and heartbreaking. In "Reclamation," a seasoned marine is ordered to clean a cemetery, "little more than a sunken acre of rotting garbage and donkey carcasses... a nasty task that seemed to have no direct benefit to the Iraqi people," which would become for him a pivotal experience in building hope and honoring sacrifice. In "Shallow Hands," a 27-year-old Marine attempts to explain the bitter divide between those who've fought and those who have not, while confessing, "I've been drinking steadily since coming back from the war." In the remarkable "Dover," readers go into the enormous military mortuary in Deleware that receives home-bound bodies, learning how one of the war's "politically sanitized phrases" like "the fallen hero" can reclaim its meaning. This collection provides a truly multi-faceted and agenda-free look at the ongoing conflict from the Americans who lived it, and deserves a large audience.