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``The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq'' by John Crawford, read by Patrick Lawlor; Tantor Media (five compact discs, 5.5 hours, $24,99, unabridged)
We may read the headlines, but we can't understand the conditions our soldiers face in Iraq. Florida National Guardsman John Crawford, called up in 2002, gives us a gritty, frontline view of a soldier's world. This episodic collection shows that although times have changed, infantry life hasn't. There are long moments of boredom, tangles with bureaucracy and uneasy relationships with the local population.
Crawford is no angel. He pops pills and steals a motorcycle, among other faults. Some of his actions, both brutal and heartwarming, are hard to understand from our homeland perspective.
With many more soldiers blogging and e-mailing home, we're likely to soon see similar war accounts. But this is one of the first reports from the front. And it's valuable because it reconnects us with our soldiers and helps us understand attitudes and conditions in Iraq.
(c) 2005, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.