"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 8


Chapter 8 draws on narratives from soldiers’ last days of deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, their reflections on their missions, and their future plans. Burden also shares the news that his colleague from Chapter 1 returns to the United States to be reunited with his family. Here, soldiers discuss their own internal conflicts in re-adjusting to civilian life—while they are grateful for their safe return, they also remain ambivalent about leaving their combat positions behind as well as returning to mundane activities that comprise daily life in the U.S. One First Lieutenant writes quasi-contemptuously about the people he imagines from home:

We wouldn’t expect you to alter your lives for us—you’re not soldiers. You don’t have to travel 7,000 miles to fight a violent and intelligent enemy. We’ll take care of all that. You just continue to prosper in the middle class, trade up on your economy-size car, install that new subwoofer in the trunk, and, yes, the red blouse looks wonderful on you—buy it. (p. 247)

Further, however, the soldier writes of his plans to, “go back to school and aggressively pursue my writing career and grow a goatee and sit in my living room like an armchair quarterback the next time America goes to war…” (p. 249). Such ambivalence is evident in the last entry, posted by a wife reunited with her husband, who claims, “Reunion is frightening, and you feel lucky, blessed, cheated, alone, and guilty” (p. 256).