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The winner of the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for The Aleppo Codex returns with the gripping true story of a band of young Israeli soldiers, including the author, who in the 1990s were charged with holding an outpost inside Lebanon known as the Pumpkin ("Flowers," the second part of the title, was the code used on military radio for "casualties."). Using humor, pop culture, and even musical references, Friedman recreates the wartime experience in a narrative that is part memoir, part journalism, part military history. The years in question were pivotal ones, seeing the perfection of a type of warfare that would eventually be exported to Afghanistan and Iraq and has come to seem like the only kind of warfare in existence -- wars in which there is never any clear victory, but not quite enough lives are lost to rally the country against it. The dramatic events at this one small hilltop sent out ripples that continue to emanate worldwide.

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Matti Friedman

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Review quotes
“In Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story Mr. Friedman has written a top-notch account of this under-analyzed war, persuasively arguing that it heralded a new style of combat in the Middle East, though no one knew it at the time.” —Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

“This superb book is partly a history of the war, partly a personal memoir, and partly a work of political analysis. But mainly it is an effort to tell the story of the young men who fought to defend something “the size of a basketball court”—not all of whom survived. Pumpkinflowers is rich enough to allow different readers to draw their own political conclusions, if they choose to draw them at all. Above all, it is a book about young men transformed by war, written by a veteran whose dazzling literary gifts gripped my attention from the first page to the last.” —Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal

“Sober and striking…on par with Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” – its Israeli analog.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“…phenomenal…extremely moving…” —Bari Weiss, The Wall Street Journal
 
“Matti Friedman’s powerful memoir of his IDF service in Lebanon in the late-’90s foreshadows the complexities of 21st-century warfare.”The New York Jewish Week

“Friedman, a journalist and author of “The Aleppo Codex,” writes with great feeling and insight…. The author’s account of military life transcends the particulars of this tale.”Christian Science Monitor

“Powerful account of youthful Israelis maturing, fighting, and dying at a forgotten Lebanon outpost. In this limber, deceptively sparse take on the Middle East's tightening spiral of violence, Friedman combines military history and personal experience on and off the line in deft, observant prose. The narrative is reminiscent of novels by Denis Johnson and Robert Stone, linking combat's violent absurdity to the traumatized perspectives of individual participants. A haunting yet wry tale of young people at war, cursed by political forces beyond their control, that can stand alongside the best narrative nonfiction coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq.”Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Remarkably educational and heartfelt: Friedman’s experiences provide a critical historical perspective on the changing climate of war in the Middle East, shifting from short official conflicts into longer unwinnable wars full of guerilla tactics and the deliberate creation of media narratives and images. His lyrical writing, attention to detail, and personal honesty draw the reader into empathy along with understanding. Friedman’s memoir deserves wide readership." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“fast and engaging… A compelling war memoir containing elements of terror, observation, boredom, and grim (at times absurd) humor. This is an excellent read…”Library Journal, starred review

“A compelling narrative, freighted with explosive geopolitical implications.”Booklist, starred review
 
Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
272
Publication date
April 18, 2017
ISBN
9781616206918