During the peak years of the Afghanistan War, a group of soldiers is dropped by helicopter into the remote mountains outside of Kandahar City. Mismanaged and overlooked by command, how they survive is largely up to them.
Is that what you expect? Yeah, you'll have lots of explosions in this story too. The difference is that you will not find those super-soldiers glorified in movies or in adventure novels. You will not find anything glamorous or sensational, and if you expect adventures in which the heroes are like those you have been used to, such as SEAL, Rangers, Delta or others like them, I tell you: you didn’t find the right book.
Joseph Kassabian's book does not want to praise the war or the civilizing soldier, but also it’s not an anti-war manifesto. The author's stories do not want to be moralizing parables, nor do ask you to find any hidden meaning in them. J. Kassabian just wants to present you fragments of the real life of the soldiers in Afghanistan war. Life fragments presented with the good and evil that result from living in that war torn country; maybe with more evils, as it’s usually also the case in everyday civilian life. What remains at the end of the day are the comrades. Whoever served in the army knows what I'm talking about.When the bullets begin to fly around you, nothing else matters but the one next to you - your brother in arms.
But don’t worry! The Hooligans of Kandahar is not a depressing book or one that will upset you. J. Kassabian is a good storyteller. And what really matters it’s that he managed to pack whole that “indigestible product” that is the Afghanistan war into a book with humorous accents. Of course, you will not laugh at tears, he did not intend this, but a lot of stories you’ll read with a smile on your lips.
As I mentioned before, Kassabian does not want to come up in front of the readers with a new action story. The author is more concerned about the characters and relationships of the protagonists. It's a book about people not warriors, about young people waking up with a hot weapon in their hands instead of a console gamepad in a world where the cost of a human life is quite cheap and few are the ones who still put a value on morality or altruism.
Another facet of Kassabian's book is the daily life in the army, starting from the stupidity of the officers and their indifference to the problems of ordinary soldiers, to the day-to-day lack of military effects or any other thing of minimal or utmost importance. All that can be obtained are just promises, so Kassabian and his comrades do what all the soldiers of all times and from all armies have done before: fill up. If you didn’t serve in the army it means that you don’t know a simple thing: in the army nobody steals... everybody fills up.
All this happens in the theater of war called Afghanistan. From Alexander the Great and till present days, someone found the reason to scuffle in the dust of Afghanistan and it seems that nobody has the intention to stop doing it.
Do you want to know another aspect of the ordinary soldier's life in Afghanistan? I recommend you, boys and girls, to read Joseph Kassabian's book. It will be a pleasant and instructive reading.
I have mixed emotions when I read books about war; sadness, ashamed by humanity, proud by humanity, inspired by courage, etc. I both love and hate them. I have retired soldiers in my family and thank God they're still here.
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