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Combat and Other Shenanigans by Piers Platt
This is a memoir of an American lieutenant in a cavalry unit, covering his year in Iraq in 2004. It's available in paperback, ebook, and audio book editions. I bought the audio book and Kindle versions, and switched between them. The audio book narration is very good.
The author states at the start that he has been asked what it was like to serve in Iraq. He eventually wrote the book as a way of answering these questions. Platt initially deployed to Iraq in charge of an M1 tank platoon, and was subsequently moved to an M3 Bradley platoon.
The book has plenty of anecdotes as well as descriptions of combat. For anyone interested in armoured warfare, it's a good source of odd little details, such as why towing a tank with a thrown track will cause the wheels to catch fire. It's written in an easy to read style, with plenty of humour.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Early on in the book the author, Platt, mentioned that people would often ask him "what it was like in Iraq?" and giving answers was often difficult. He hoped this book would provide a better answer and a better idea of what it was like. Does it reach this difficult goal? Yes and no. Mostly yes.
Platt gives a wonderful, detailed explanation of what he and his platoon did over in Iraq, Through this you get an understanding of what it was like and what he and his fellow US Army guys went through. He shows the excitement when things go well, the anxiety when things do not. The boredom when not much is going on. The pride of having helped with and been involved in ensuring the democratic election in Iraq.
Platt doesn't delve into the politics of the war, which is good - that's not what this book is for, but gives a straight up account of "the man on the ground'. Only in his quick reflections post-war is the politics slightly mentioned and even then it seems a mix of pride for what he was involved in and confusion/annoyance at the US having been involved at all.
The book is humourous at times. It reminded me in places of Catch-22 in terms of the absurdity (order spare parts but moving base all the time thus you part are always one base behind you) although, thankfully, not quite so insane. There is a disconnect between the 'ideal' as expected by the military superiors at base and the reality of those on the ground. It is not just with the military this disconnect exists, but with the military it is so much scarier as it is a high risk environment.
The narrator, Snow, does a good job of conveying the various emotions and humour. A solid performance.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Where does Combat and Other Shenanigans rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
It's up there with the best of them. A little short but very entertaining. It's like a tube of Pringles, once you start you just can't stop!
Who was your favorite character and why?
It's not so much a favourite character as it was written in the first person. But the humour and camaraderie of the book makes for great reading.
What does Corey M. Snow bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
He gives a little life to the book in places where it could be hard to tell if it's a joke or not, having said that with a military background I get the humour in the book
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Just the humour and the fact it was written without needing to big it up in the action scenes.
Any additional comments?
At 5 hours it's a little short, knowing how much trouble I managed to get myself into without trying (in a fun way) whilst on tour I would have liked this to be longer.
The author brings home the realities of the military in a funny yet serious manner. From spending 90% of your officer training on learning how to fill out forms to how distant combat now fills. This is a great book and something I would recommend to any young officer or office worker!