Good Soldiers, by David Finkel

Group Members:
Nick DeFusco
Bart Gallagher
Dennis Erving
Dustin McCrossin
Sam Griswold
Bryce Snyder
Alex Stevens
Kyler Morton
Ryan Tyler
Anne Tommaso

Discussion Location: Ms. Tommaso's room 106

external image GoodSoldiersBook.jpg

Discussion topics:

1. We should talk about the overall attitude and outlook of the troops at different points of the story. We could compare the beginning to the middle to the end just after they get back. The Bush quotes at the beginning of each chapter could be a good starting point of discussion on this topic.
2. The mental effects of war...seeing the EFP's and IED's explode day after day...knowing there is nothing you can do to avoid it and putting your life in the hands of fate every day.
3. A good question would be: Was the surge really worth it? Did the few thousand people who died in Iraq die for a justified cause?
4. It might just be me, but the mission that Bush outlined for us was that we are in Iraq to create a better and more secure environment for the Iraqi people...the quote below. This "mission" seems extremely vague. That to me seems impossible...and it makes no sense to fight and impossible battle. It seemed like every time the 2-16 would make good progress somewhere outside of the Green Zone, things would crumble and take a turn for the worse.
5. We all know how the United States has a very powerful fighting force, but when the first EFP exploded and the molten slug basically melted through a 400 pound steel humvy door, it made me think that we are not untouchable. They created something so simple from basically nothing, but yet it cut through one of the most solid pieces of steel you can find. The Iraqi insurgents never stopped amazing me throughout this book in that way.
6. Do you think that Brent Cummings view and relationship changed toward the people of Iraq
1. Another good question could be some of the soldiers changing views of Lt. Col. Kauzlarich.
2. The loss of morale seems to happen after every casualties. We could talk about how this affects their fighting, and how it affects their attitude towards one and other.

- Lt. Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich. Commander of the 2-16. Graduate of West Point.
- Soldier Brent Cummings - Talked to the man about the wall that needed to built around the new COP.
- Adam Schumann - Saved Sgt. Emory from the building. Ends up having to be evacuated for mental problems.Could we talk about the scene where he is evacuated into the medical helicopter?
- Jay Cajimat - The first casualty of the 2-16. How does his death play a role on the soldiers attitudes?
- Who do you think the Antagonist is? And why?
-The mother and wife of the soldier who lost both his limbs, facial features, and eyelids. How are they heroic? Is the war as bad for them? How is their suffering different and similar?
-The interpreter who's daughter is hit in an explosion and receives medical attention from the 2-16. The soldier in charge has a very difficult decision to make in allowing her to have this treatment. How is this conflict related to the larger themes of the story?

- Why is confusion a theme in the book?
- How does fear play a role in the book?
- What are some underlying themes in this book?
- Are there any common motifs?
-The issue of chaos--how the mission is to bring order to Baghdad, but more chaos gets created...

Style of Writing:
- What is the author's tone towards the subject of the book? Is it discernible? How can we know?
- What do the quotes from Pres. Bush at the beginning of each chapter achieve? How are they related to the stories on the ground? Why does Finkel include them?
- Can we call this book reporting? Is it biography? What is the genre?

- How do the Soldiers feel about the environment in Iraq?
- How did the heat, smell, dirtiness affect their fighting?

- Why are the Americans and Iraqis at war?
- What problems do they face? How do they deal with the problems?
- How do the soldiers deal with their mental problems?

Clarifying question:
What was the importance of Lt. Colonel Kauzlarich seeing the burn victim?

- “Mission: to create a balanced, secure and self-sufficient environment for the Iraqi people.” - sign on headquarters

- “ ‘I like America. When America came, I put flowers out front,’ the man said. But at this point, ‘If I put them out, they will kill me.’ His perspiration stains were huge now. Twenty minutes. House searches didn’t take 20 minutes. Everyone knew that. Kauzlarich stood.

- “Shukran, he said, taking the man’s hand.
- “ ‘I’m sorry I cannot support you,’ the man said. ‘I’m afraid for my life.’ ”

Outside Sources:

New York Times Book Review

Review of the book
Has a good view on what the theme of the book is.

PTSD Article
I think this article is important because it tells us how many veterans come back with PTSD and their behavior.