Napoli introduces a remarkable group of young New Yorkers who went abroad with high hopes only to find a bewildering conflict. We meet a nurse who staged a hunger strike to promote peace while working at a field hospital; a paratrooper whose experiences on the battlefield left him with emotional scars that led to violence and homelessness; a black soldier who achieved an unexpected camaraderie with his fellow servicemen in racially tense times; and a university administrator who helped to create New York City's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some of Napoli's soldiers became active opponents of the war; others did not. But all returned with a powerful urge to understand the death and destruction they had seen. Overcoming adversity, a great many would go on to lead ambitious lives of public service. Tracing their journeys from the streets of Brooklyn and Queens to the banks of the Mekong, and back to the most glamorous corporations and meanest homeless shelters of New York City, Napoli reveals the variety and surprising vibrancy of the ex-soldiers' experiences. "For almost everyone the time in Vietnam was the most exciting and the most alive time of your life," one veteran recalls. He adds: "I still have this little trick . . . When I lie down and go to sleep, if there's something bothering me, I say, ‘You're warm, you're dry, and there is no one shooting at you.'"
The wars of the past decade have been covered by brave and talented reporters, but none has reckoned with the psychology of these wars as intimately as the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel. For The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel embedded with the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion during the infamous "surge," a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed them all forever. In Finkel's hands, readers can feel what these young men were experiencing, and his harrowing story instantly became a classic in the literature of modern war.
In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel has done something even more extraordinary. Once again, he has embedded with some of the men of the 2-16—but this time he has done it at home, here in the States, after their deployments have ended. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like—not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done.
The story Finkel tells is mesmerizing, impossible to put down. With his unparalleled ability to report a story, he climbs into the hearts and minds of those he writes about. Thank You for Your Service is an act of understanding, and it offers a more complete picture than we have ever had of these two essential questions: When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? And when they return, what are we thanking them for?
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Nonfiction Books of 2013
One of The Washington Post's Top 10 Books of the Year
A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2013