Book Review: “The Hooligans Of Kandahar” by Joseph Kassabian

As, I stated in a previous post, part of the revamped Hogwash Writing will be the occasional book review. Obviously, I’ll only post reviews once I’ve completed a book and, since I am a slow reader, they will be few and far between.

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I recently completed the book, “The Hooligans Of Kandahar” by Joseph Kassabian. The story, is Kassabian’s own story and an excellent read; a raw look at an enlisted man’s journey through a yearlong deployment in and around Kandahar City. If you’re looking for a glamorous war story filled with acts of heroism and moral stands, this is not the book for you. As the cover states, “Not all war stories are heroic”.  Instead, Kassabian dives deep into the monotonous routines, squalid living conditions, and “big-Army-chicken-shit” that were, and probably still are, the earmark of deployments to Afghanistan.

This is a non-fiction book, so I’m sure many of the soldiers in the author’s unit were less than flattered by the way they were portrayed, but it’s undeniably real. If you’ve ever served in the military you’ll recognize every character. Every unit had its mixed bag of soldiers, male and female. The war lovers, the drunks, the power-hungry, the lazy, the unapologetically unhygienic. Kassabian himself, as the narrator, fits the role of the angry soldier. The soldier who’s lost his tolerance in a war that long ago lost its direction. In a way the book seems more a tragedy, not in a “boo-hoo” way, but definitely not a light-hearted-romp either. At the very least, “The Hooligans Of Kandahar” can be a means to better understand friends or family members who have slogged it out in Afghanistan (or Iraq). A means to place yourself in their dusty, muddy, bloody boots and understand their anger, their frustration, and their relief to be free, but never quite free, of a war we never fully understood.

*If you don’t like potty language, perhaps steer clear. Or have a friend who does like potty language redact this book first. It’s not for the weak or faint of heart.

**Also, look to the right side of the screen and follow my blog, you freeloader.

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