The Best Defense

'The Long Walk': A striking forthcoming memoir of leading a bomb squad in Iraq, and then going crazy when back home

I recently read The Long Walk, a book about leading an EOD team on two tours in Iraq. It isn't really a narrative, more a prolonged rant. I think a better title would have been "The Crazy: A memoir of Iraq and after." But it certainly evoked Iraq for me in a way that many memoirs do not. It has a lot of lines that resonated with me -- I found myself reading the book for these:

--"Everything about Iraq sucked. I loved it."

--"No one drives through the center of Hawija unless forced: so much hate packed into such small space."

--"You are a different person on graduation day from the day you started [EOD school]. . . . It's like being a surgeon, except if you screw up, you die, not the patient."

--On driving an Iraqi dirt road at night: "Like snow flurries back home, the dust just reflected back at us what little light we gave off."

--"Sometimes, when the calls pile up, you can go from yesterday to tomorrow and never get to today."

--". . . so prodigious the blood soaking into the ground that it contaminates the oil reserves hidden beneath the rocky desert."

--"Two months later we had a Day of Five VBIEDs. By that time I was numb, my brain a tingle, and I have no memory of it at all."

--"Every moment you are being shot at you are blissfully, consciously, wonderfully, tangibly alive."

--Murphy's Law: "The odds say Murphy always win in the end."

--"I died in Iraq. The old me left for Iraq and never came home . . . . I liked the old me. . . . Everyone longs for the old me. No one particularly wants to be with the new me. Especially me."

--"Until one day, seemingly out of the blue, it surprised me walking down the street. I stepped off a curb normal. I landed Crazy." 

--"There are two of me now. The logical one watches the Crazy one."

--"my first thought is always the same. Will I be Crazy today? And the answer is always 'yes' before my feet hit the floor."

--Considering going back for another tour in Iraq: "The Crazy purrs its approval."

--"Twitch. The left eye has been bad today."

--"When the depravity of this world is laid before you in its ruin, and you discover yourself mired in it, rather than above, what hope do you have?"

--"Forget the starter's pistol. There is a finisher's pistol, and it could go off at any time."


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