Chivers, a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times journalist and a Gulf War veteran in the Marines, presents in evocative detail the Iraq and Afghanistan war experiences of a handful of American fighters to tell the bigger story of how those conflicts with al-Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, and ISIS devolved into “wars that ran far past the pursuit of justice and ultimately did not succeed.” Chivers focuses on six combatants—an F-14 pilot, a Green Beret sergeant, a Navy corpsman, a helicopter pilot, an Army infantryman, and a Marine lieutenant. He briefly relates why each one joined the military and what happened to them after coming home, but the heart of the book is in-depth, intense reporting of their in-the-trenches tours of duty. Chivers spent countless hours on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2013. His reporting rings chillingly true, especially his accounts of the worst that war metes out to those doing the fighting and civilians caught in the crosshairs, for example the agony that corpsman Dustin Kirby went through after being shot in the face. The five-page account of a 2013 meeting between George W. Bush and the severely wounded Kirby and his family is a brilliantly told jolt of postwar reality. This fast-paced, action-heavy work of long-form war journalism has bestseller written all over it. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Correction: A previous version of this review incorrectly identified the author's literary agent.