German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk talks about books as “thick letters to friends” which Phil Klay mentioned in his acceptance speech for his recent National Book Award winning title for Redeployment. Drawing from his own deployment with the Marines on the front lines, Klay follows the life of one soldier and the daily routine of survival in the Anbar Province where the Islamic State is attempting to takeover. Readers looking for a tale filled with horrid violent scenes and moments of combat will be disappointed.
For Klay, the real battle exists in answering the question of, “Who am I as a human being?” Filled with grit, laughter, sadness, and contemplation, this work lured me in as I tried to understand how one individual resettles after being deployed overseas. I found myself meditating on what personal challenges I would have dealt with if I were the soldier who survived deployment.