Through an engaging blend of humor, wit, and seriousness, she dismantles stereotypes and prejudices by embracing cultural differences while portraying Iraq through a lens of sympathy and understanding. "I also learned today that the most violent areas are also the most uneducated," she writes—a sentiment that calls forth the nuances of a country grappling with a difficult history and war-raved veneer. When it comes to the interactions within her unit, Meichelbock’s a straight shooter, exploring gender dynamics and other complexities of everyday interaction: “I wish I were fat and ugly here; then maybe I could be taken seriously as a person,” she writes.
Readers will appreciate the photographs scattered throughout, allowing palpable glimpses of Meichelbock's military life and the Iraqi landscape, and, when paired with her diary entries, those photos become graphically immersive. What sets Meichelbock's story apart is her remarkable authenticity in capturing the mundane amid the perilous—from enduring an unsanitary toilet, to seeking human connection, to binge-watching movies in dead hours, to experiencing compassion from the Iraqi people—she explores the lighter side of an emotionally charged experience. This is a compelling perspective of a female soldier fighting for those unable to fight for themselves.
Takeaway: Transformational military journey that deftly captures life amidst looming danger.
Comparable Titles: Robert Semrau’s The Taliban Don’t Wave, Anuradha Bhagwati’s Unbecoming.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-