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Spoils by Brian Van Reet

It's very rare for me to read contemporary war novels and when I do, I almost never choose ones about the military itself, so Spoils by former soldier Brian Van Reet was a departure for me. It is, however, billed on the cover as a war novel for people who hate war novels and I suspect there may be some truth in that.

There are three characters whose points of view the novel which is set in the Iraq war of 2003, covers. Cassandra Wigheard is a 19-year-old American soldier who has joined the US Army two years previously, primarily as a means of escape from her chaotic, poverty-stricken family. Abu al-Hool is a middle-aged Egyptian from a wealthy family who has been fighting with the mujahideen in various fields of conflict in the Islamic world, initially against the Russians in Afghanistan and now in Iraq. Finally, there's Sleed, another low-ranking soldier whose role is perhaps to show us how ordinary young men behave when faced with extraordinary circumstances, and what the te…

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