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War Experience and Trauma in American Literature

A Study of American Military Memoirs of «Operation Iraqi Freedom»

Lena-Simone Günther

Walt Whitman wrote: «The real war will never get into the books.» To this day, however, American soldier-authors write about their war and translate traumatic experiences into language accessible to the reader. Veterans of the recent Iraq war do not differ here. Joining the post-draft American military, the selected soldier-authors are thrust into a conflict which soon exceeded governmental, military and public expectations. Focusing on core elements which link the selected military memoirs of Nathaniel Fick, Colby Buzzell, Clint Van Winkle, John Crawford and Matt Gallagher together, this book follows the soldier-authors’ process of soldierization, their loss of innocence, moral responsibility and, finally, coping mechanisms for traumatic experiences sustained in combat.
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Chapter Three. Hurry Up and Wait


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Another turning point A fork stuck in the road Time grabs you by the wrist Directs you where to go So make the best of this test And don’t ask why It’s not a question But a lesson learned in time – Green Day “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”

Chapter Three.   Hurry Up and Wait

In his poem “An American Soldier” (2010), Tracey Marquart imagines American soldiers’ – albeit naive and inexperienced – view of themselves after leaving Boot Camp and Basic Training. He writes:

Proud to be in the Army A government Agent Sent across the Sea This is an American Soldier (Marquart Mind Circus: Ticket Booth 11)

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