Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Long Talk With CBFTW...

MY WAR: KILLING TIME IN IRAQ

One of the only things that I really miss about my pre-motherhood life is the ability to retreat from the world with a day or two with a book. I still manage to read, but it has to be late at night while after everyone is asleep if the book is to receive my undivided attention. This is the reason I am a little late in reading Colby's book.

So, I whined a bit about not wanted to do the same old review...it's a good book, go buy it...etc. That's all obvious right? I mean, I wouldn't have a blog if it weren't for this cat. Anyway, I wanted to be able to tell you all some things that you may not know -things that weren't on the blog or in the book.

As if firefights in Mosul weren't punishment enough, I made the poor dear talk to me forever on the phone last night. What a brave soul.

Let me just start out by saying something that hasn't been said and needs to...CB's book is not a regurgitation of the posts on his blog! There are posts in there, but they only comprise a small part of the book and they have been filled out to include the things that he couldn't say in theater. (Basically, don't think you've read the book if you followed the blog). This book gives the "back story" to the small slice we were reading on his site. All of the things that we could only guess about what was really happening (i.e. the Jello Biafra letter).

One of the first things I asked the deep voiced, but soft-spoken Colby was if he knew the level of concern there was for him. I told him about all the emails that passed back and forth when he wasn't posting...wondering if he was OK and how could we possibly find out if he wasn't. He seemed shocked (and flattered) to hear about this. Obviously he was aware of his cult following (my words), but didn't seem to realize how deep people's feelings for him actually went. We talked about what a great dynamic this medium was --drawing the American public into the reality of this war and the fact that men and women fighting it are real people that are in harm's way. CB looks at milblogging as a great connection between soldier and civilian that provides support and encouragement to the soldier and information and reality to the readers. He seemed truly grateful when he talked about all the emails, packages and support that he recieved...none went unnoticed or unappreciated!

I think the reason I was drawn to CBFTW right away was that ever-present hint of sarcasm in his writing -and that was completely borne out in his book. The Man (as in tesco) was probably getting annoyed because I kept reading him bits out loud that I was laughing over. There is nothing better than a true (effortless) smartass ---and Colby is that. I was telling him that one of my favorite things he posted was when he talked about the Iraqi girl that lifted her veil as she drove by him and he asked, "Did I just get flashed?" Sadly, that was something that was cut from the book. In the book, the two “mandatory letters” to his parents are priceless, as is the time he gets wasted on the FOB. That part was so "money".

Both the book and the website were full of mixed messages. A quote or painting about peace and a post to follow about the joy of explosions. That's CB's draw; both sides feel like he's on their side --like they can make him their mouthpiece. I wanted to know if that bothered him, if he got aggravated when his comment section became a political forum. He was quick to answer that he loved it and that he read each and every comment. I was surprised to hear that was his favorite part and all the comments-not the actual posting- was what became his addiction. He remembers so many people that came to his site by name.

I went easy on the praise about the book and the site because when talking to him you get the impression right away that he is not completely comfortable with all this attention. He is not trying to get famous and act like a rock star, but is actually quite humble and unassuming which is all the more endearing. He was recently blindsided by a reporter when he was asked (on air) if this book was written for "blood money". In light of the slew of milbooks that are being released now, people need to remember that CB was solicited to write this book -he didn't go seeking this.

It took me about a day and a half to read the 354 page memoir and I was bummed when it was done. I wanted to know more (then again, I always want to know more). I thought of 1,000 more questions after we hung up --lucky for him…

So anyone that hasn't bought/read this book yet really needs to. It's an insight into the war, into how the Army is struggling to handle this new expanding medium of the blogosphere, into the journey of a skater turned warrior and a refreshing glimpse into the diary of a Stryker soldier with no political agenda.

You know that feeling you get when your friend has a baby, and it's actually cute and you're so relieved that you don't have to lie. That's how I felt when I was done with Colby's book. I knew that he was a great writer, but I was afraid the editor's would tame him too much and that maybe his real voice would be stifled. Thankfully that wasn't the case.

Thank you CB for giving us this behind-the-scenes look, thank you for being the inspiration for so many people and the catalyst for so many blogs and friendships that have been forged because of you. You are the BlogFather!

MY WAR: KILLING TIME IN IRAQ

(If you have already read CB's book and you want another snippet - you can go here and read this essay that he wrote).

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