Elliot Ackerman’s PLACES AND NAMES
Updated: Nov 3, 2019
A former US Marine sits down with a former Al Qaeda fighter in a refugee camp in Southern Turkey near the border with Syria. It is 2013 and Syria is engulfed by civil war. Both men fought on opposing sides during the war in Iraq. Over tea and baklava they each recount their experience of war and its aftermath and what brings them to where they sit today.
Elliot Ackerman uses this framework to construct one of the best military memoirs I have ever read. He weaves a narrative of his own experiences serving in Iraq and Afghanistan with the historical, political and social context of where we are today. It is powerful, confronting, informative and personal. Elliot Ackerman’s writing is deftly able to convey both the intimate and immediate but is also reflective and introspective. Through his own experiences of combat and his time in Syria as a journalist Ackerman takes the broader picture of what the aftermath of the war he fought has become to then show the true tragedy of what has happened to the Middle East in the last twenty years and bring into even sharper focus the humanitarian crisis that has been created and fed by wars that do not conform to borders, frontlines or timelines. Wars that were started by those who have no desire or will left to finish them and which now seem to perpetually reignite themselves again and again. Wars that those who fought in them cannot escape and are continually drawn back to. Including Elliot himself.
I am in absolute awe of this book. I have ordered all three of Elliot Ackerman’s previous three novels and cannot wait to read them. To say this is a must read is an understatement. This might just be one of the most important books to come out of the wars of the last twenty years.
Title: Places and Names: Dispatches of War
Author: Elliot Ackerman
Publisher: Penguin UK
Subtitle: On War, Revolution and Returning
Publication Date: 17/06/2019