The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq by C.J. Chivers

I have taught at the same high school for the past eighteen years, and every year approximately 5 or 6 students enter the military after graduation. Many of those over one hundred young men and women have been sent to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight. I often think about what they go through on a day-to-day basis. Where are they deployed? What are their tasks? How are they faring? C.J. Chivers’s The Fighters goes far to answer these questions about the lives of the individuals in our military units since 9/11. He writes compassionate and telling profiles from the cockpit, the turret, and the boots on ground.  Chivers balances a keen understanding of the machinery and the bureaucracy of the military, with the human element of war.

The book’s twelve chapters are broken up with pieces of history detailing the big-picture moves of the American government since the start of the conflict. One of the running themes in Chivers’s narrative is the striking changes that technology has brought to war. He describes how tech has dramatically altered how a soldier sees the brutality of the fighting.  The reader experiences not only the day-to-day bravery of the men and woman’s efforts but the long-term effects of those days, weeks and years on a soldier’s conscience and body.

The Fighters honors the soldiers who try to see through the fog of war every day: the medical corpsman who has to triage a roadside bomb and the helicopter instructor pilot who takes his students through their first missions. They may not be directly connected to ‘why’ of the missions, but they certain are there for their fellow solders. This is a much-needed text. Much-needed because not enough has been documented about the last 17 years of war. And Chibers gives us a near-complete look, not at the directors, but the grunts with their hands on the triggers and the responsibilities on their shoulders. I commend Chivers’s dedication to expose the report on the challenges of these and all the soldiers.

One of my past students will be entering his junior year at West Point this fall. Where will he serve? What will his experience be like?

5 out of 5 stars

Releases on August 14th.

Thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and C.J. Chivers for an advanced copy for review

18 thoughts on “The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq by C.J. Chivers

Add yours

  1. Wow, wonderful, thoughtful review, Paul. I bet your students remember you as one of their favorite teachers. Your care for each of them as individuals is evident in your writing and thoughts about them. You have me interested in this book because of its reporting on the human side of war. Thanks for sharing this book with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like an incredibly insightful book. Back in high school, I have heard friends say things like: “If I can’t get into anything good, I’ll just join the army.” And most never really considered the implications that came along with such a commitment. A book like this would probably enlighten a lot of people on what exactly it means to join the force. Great review, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to check it out. We have curriculum that helps the students work through their decision for ‘what’s next’ regardless of their path. No matter what they choose, they are so young and ‘invincible.’

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful and considerate review Paul. War is ugly, and for myself, I don’t truly know, what these soldiers who fight for us go through. Sounds like Chivers give us a glimpse behind the scenes about that. I’m interested in taking that glimpse, adding to my TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! I’ve added this to my list. My husband and oldest son were in the Marines, but never went to any battle zones. My 18-yr-old is contemplating military service now, so I think he should read this. Things have changed a lot since my husband and son were in (88-97, 03-07).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s a great book that looks at the day-to-day lives of many of the men and women who serve. Many books about the generals and such, but this one is about all The Fighters.


  5. Great review. I never wanted to go into the military because I could only imagine the mental burden that I would be putting on myself by being in that situation, and I’m sure that this book tries to describe that burden as well as it can. I might read it myself sometime in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: