The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell by John Crawford

The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War in Iraq by John Crawford is about Crawford’s service in Iraq with the Florida National Guard. His account is entertaining and sobering.

Here is summary of the book from Publishers Weekly:

Having joined the National Guard for the tuition benefits, Crawford, like many of his contemporaries, never expected to do any heavy lifting. Early on, he admits his is “the story of a group of college students… who wanted nothing to do with someone else’s war.” But when his Florida National Guard unit was activated, he was shipped to Kuwait shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Armed with shoddy equipment, led by incompetent officers and finding release in the occasional indulgence in pharmaceuticals, Crawford cared little for the mission and less for the Iraqis. “Mostly we were guarding gas stations and running patrols,” he explains. As for Iraqi civilians, “I didn’t give a shit what happened to any of them,” he confesses after inadvertently saving an Iraqi boy from a mob beating. Crawford’s disdain grows with each extension of his tour, and he leaves Iraq broke, rudderless and embittered. Unfortunately, Crawford dresses up his story in strained metaphors and tired clichés such as “truth engulfed me like a storm cloud” and “you can never go back home.” Despite its pretensions, Crawford’s story is not the classic foot soldier’s memoir and should provide enough gristle to please military memoir fans.

I mostly agree with Publishers Weekly’s take on the book. In some place, Crawford seems to push the disgruntled soldier act a little too far, but I think he is a product of his generation – the “We are supposed to be jaded and act like it” generation. It is still worthwhile to read the book to catch a glimpse of modern war from the perspective of a national guardsman.

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