"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." -- The Wall Street Journal
"Friedman's sober and striking new memoir .
"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." --The Wall Street Journal
"Friedman's sober and striking new memoir . . . is] on a par with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried -- its Israeli analog." --The New York Times Book Review
It was just one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples that are still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for "casualties." Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing experience of a band of young Israeli soldiers charged with holding this remote outpost, a task that would change them forever, wound the country in ways large and small, and foreshadow the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Pumpkinflowers is a reckoning by one of those young soldiers now grown into a remarkable writer. Part memoir, part reportage, part history, Friedman's powerful narrative captures the birth of today's chaotic Middle East and the rise of a twenty-first-century type of war in which there is never a clear victor and media images can be as important as the battle itself.
Raw and beautifully rendered, Pumpkinflowers will take its place among classic war narratives by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, and Tim O'Brien. It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today.
- ISBN-13: 9781616204587
- ISBN-10: 1616204583
- Publisher: Algonquin Books
- Publish Date: May 2016
- Page Count: 256
- Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Friedman, an Israeli journalist and writer, recounts the history of a hilltop bunker in southern Lebanon that was held by the Israeli army during the 1990s, beginning with the biography of a young soldier stationed there and transitioning into a memoir of his own time on the hill and his post-war visit as a tourist. Friedman’s personal reflections alternate with a history of Israel’s conflict in Lebanon, which he refers to as an unnamed and forgotten war, as he covers civilian sentiment, political responses to war and protest, and military strategy through the period. Though short, the book is 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. (May)