Beyond Duty:  Life on the Frontline in Iraq

By: Shannon P. Meehan and Roger Thompson


Tim O'Brien, award-winning author of The Things They Carried

“Beyond Duty is a powerful and heartbreaking account of Lieutenant Meehan’s tour of duty in Iraq. . . This honest and painfully intense narrative is a reminder of the   terrible costs of warfare, not just as measured by blood or treasure, but also in terms of damage to the human psyche.”

 

Brian Turner, award-winning author of Here, Bullet, and veteran of the Iraq War

“This memoir is a descent into war's difficult terrain, a landscape which continues on within the veteran as he or she returns home. The archetype of the classic hero is nearly completely destroyed through the personal narrative which chronicles a series of harrowing events in order to reveal a deeper sense of the heroic.  Meehan's voice reminds us that the bleeding continues on after the guns have gone silent, even if we don't realize it.”


Mary Doria Russell, international award-winning author of A Thread of Grace and The Sparrow, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize

"For better or for worse, this documents what the war in Iraq has been: young soldiers doing their heartbreaking best to do the right thing amid confusion, chaos and collateral damage."


Excerpt from Prologue


I heard them say it again, “Did you see that kid,” and this time, with awful certainty, came a response.

“There were a lot more in there.” 

The words hung in the air, and I looked at the men in my tank.  A new silence settled in.  A deeper, more devastating silence.  One that joins men together.  One that conspires.  One shared by all of us soldiers, from any war, who have witnessed the unspeakable and who, in our attempts to cope, pledge to each other, with simply a glance, not to say a word, not to resurrect what we have destroyed.  


This is my voice rising out of that terrible silence.

This is my story trying to order the ruins of that day.



Excerpt from Chapter 16


I couldn’t control much of anything, but I could control my platoon and myself, and I dedicated myself to taking back any section of Iraq I could, no matter how small and no matter how I would have to do it.  If that meant using force and refusing to engage in circular discussions with known deceivers, so be it.  Something had to change, and I was going to try to make it happen, even if I had to punish someone to do it.



Excerpt from Chapter 26


I began to think about my Purple Heart and all that it stood for—the injuries in the line of duty and the sacrifice it represented.  That sacrifice seemed insignificant.  That award, and even the Bronze star, reminded me of the people I had killed. 


I had chosen to live my life in a war zone and hoped to make a difference.  I had in some broad way sacrificed a life back home with AJ, and I had put myself at risk.  But that seemed insignificant in light of what I had done.




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