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What Was Asked of Us: An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It. By Trish Wood Little, Brown / $14.99

The thing about fighting in a war, relates one soldier in this penetrating, terrifying and important book, "is that there's no way to put into words what actually happened." Yet with these brutally straightforward accounts by 29 American veterans of the Iraq war, Wood - an award-winning Canadian investigative reporter - proves her own subject wrong. Wood's deftness as interviewer and editor renders her own presence scarce, freeing each soldier to provide firsthand looks at botched reconstruction efforts, intelligence foul-ups and the practicalities of heroism.

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