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The Struggle Trilogy is powerful. It’s a perspective that we need on a war that encompasses a nation thousands of miles from our home- one that feels removed in perspective to the nation whose soil is ravaged everyday by the boots of Americans and police, alike. Indeed, The Struggle Trilogy begins by setting a tone of polarization, as the main character Walid, fights for his family, with one child on the way, his conscience, his friends, and his plight to understand world order and the implications of the War in Iraq while he stands in the middle of his crumbling home and watches his nation fall apart- careful that neither the Americans nor the police take notice.

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Some hidden truths are brought to light in this story. Americans come across as mindless drones of a war they are unsure why they are fighting- only sure they must fight. Their hearts are at home. Their minds focused only on the next bribe. Nationalities in the Middle East are severed- but only for profit. Family life becomes secondary to individual survival, and youth is not regarded as a well, but rather a stream of ignorance.

While the story may be centered around Walid’s life in Baghdad, several peripheral characters are introduced who add depth and breadth to the story, including Douglass, an American soldier. Neither Douglass nor Walid are particularly likable. The humanity of war is exposed through their turmoil- Walid’s slow descent into the underworld of Baghdad’s shady underbelly, and Douglass’s seeming incapability (albeit, this is a great simplification) to think, or even be, for himself. While fiction, it has the power to reshape held views through the raw indignities suffered on both sides- neither of which are painted with a clichéd brush. They are real, suffering characters, who endure graphic, physical pain that sears off the pages, and have deep lapses in their conscience behaviors, whether the product of their environment, their humanity, or the greater world that we live in.

The terminology of The Struggle Trilogy expounds upon common military terms. Scenes of violence are not avoided- they are tackled straight on. Expect to feel slightly queasy. The magnitude of the pain, the shockingness of the suffering explored throughout the three parts of the novel leave the reader confused. As does the ending.

The ending is perhaps the weakest part of the story. The rich character development throughout the books gives way to a complacent finish, one that any reader can root for- but which is frustrating all the same because in many ways the ending confirms the confusion, the brutality, the betrayal, and the mindlessness of war explored throughout The Struggle Trilogy– there are no clean cut corners. Winners and losers all stand in the same city of rubble at the end of any battle- the real winners are those who profit from the tangled heaps of wire and concrete, who see past alliances and idealism to the brutal deceits of war and the lives it alters. The Struggle Trilogy is a must-read for anyone interested in a perspective of war that is not diluted- but rather laid out with conclusions for one to draw on their own- outside the range of the media’s influence.

While it may be fiction, it is thought-provoking, tough, and a well-written journey through a very real place.


Number of Pages: 338

Recommended For: book group, discussion

Enjoy it With: steaming coffee

For fans of: war, memoirs, tragedy, The History Channel

Best place to buy it: http://www.amazon.com/The-Struggle-Trilogy-Volume-1/dp/147501418X