"The Blog of War" book cover

Front-Line Dispatches from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan

Matthew Currier Burden

Simon & Schuster, 2006

ISBN 0-7432-9418-1

304 pages

$15.00 (paperback)

Reviewed by: Patrick Thomas

intro | ch1 | ch2 | ch3 | ch4 | ch5 | ch6 | ch7 | ch8 | epilogue

Chapter 6

"Heros on the Homefront"

Shifting perspective from previous chapters, the collection of entries in Chapter 6 reveals the ways in which soldiers’ families and loved ones manage life in the U.S. while their spouses, children, siblings, and loved ones are on deployment. In addition to these entries, Burden also recounts his experiences assisting the family of one of his fellow soldiers while his friend remained in Iraq. Of particular interest is the first post included in this chapter, written by a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel whose wife was on deployment. This post brings to light the variety of individuals who are implicated by military deployment and reminds readers that not all spouses who are left behind are wives. Additionally, what appears most clearly in this chapter (as well as in Chapter 1) is the rhetorical power of belief. One female blogger discusses her belief in the invincibility of Army soldiers despite the lack of information she has received about her boyfriend in Afghanistan:

…somehow I always thought, “Well, they are experienced.” And somehow that was translated into my mind as “They are invincible.” 

I think the worst thing about this experience was the hours of not knowing. The hours of emotional limbo. Part of me just wanted to know…but another part of me kept saying “Not knowing still holds hope.” (p. 190)

The conflict between “knowing” and “not knowing” is also borne out in a post by one soldier’s mother, who reacts to the news that her son was injured by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and has undergone critical spinal surgery. The chapter concludes with an entry from a wife who recalls her time spent away from her husband, and likens the experience of waiting for her husband’s return to various stages of grieving.