Saturday, February 13, 2010

RAview: Last Journey: A Father & Son in Wartime

Last Journey by Darrell Griffin Sr. and Darrell "Skip" Griffin Jr. is a nonfiction book about Skip's two tours in Iraq before he was killed in action in 2007. He had planned to write a book about his experiences, his take on war, and how to resolve the conflict, but his father finished the book by compiling his emails, journal entries, photos, and a blog post.

The pacing is fast, because of the organization of emails set amongst the father's narrative about Skip's tour and because battle scenes make readers anxious to find out what will happen and if Skip's men will survive. Skip is a philosopher, and he often discusses philosophies, although they aren't explained in detail in the book, so readers seeking a leg up learning philosophy should look elsewhere. Rather, these details help us get to know Skip and understand his beliefs and feelings.

Anyone who has thought about our troops, has conflicting feelings about the war, or wondered what it was like to be there will appreciate this honest, ungarnished firsthand account. Specific U.S. political views are nearly absent even though Skip does discuss reasons for going to war, the absence of WMDs, the opposing Iraqi factions and the corruption of their police and military, and what could or should have been done instead.

There is violence and gore, but it is described as Skip experienced--a horrifying fact of his life that caused him to question his faith and made him nearly unable to come back to the U.S. and live within our sheltered world for his time off. The tone is searching, fearful, proud, deep, sad, and honorable.

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