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Book Review

‘The Wax Bullet War’By Sean Davis

6/25/2014

bookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Fay Jones

Ooligan Press

04/01/14

$16.95

HIV

288 pp

With his worthwhile new memoir, Sean Davis gives an honest portrayal of his life before, during, and after time spent in combat in Iraq. On Sept. 12, 2001, Davis joined the Oregon National Guard, reenlisting in response to 9/11. He wanted to do his part, and when he learned his platoon was to be deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he also saw it as a way to escape his problems so that his “life might make sense again.”

With forthrightness — and often humor — Davis describes the absurdities and horrors that he encountered. They are asked to perform dangerous missions with lack of sleep, substandard equipment, little information, and inadequate planning.

During one combat mission with particularly little information to go on, Sean’s Humvee is ambushed, injuring him and killing his closest friend. He is sent back to America “hell-broke and feeling ruined.” Once home, he found that “real life was harder than war,” and drugs and alcohol “seemed like a wonderful idea.” Suicidal and out of control, he eventually had success getting help at a VA hospital. He returned to his work as an artist and reduced his substance abuse. His art gave him the mission he lacked once outside the combat zone, and although the trauma persisted, he “found a new purpose and something to live for.”

With approachable, evocative narrative, Davis gives us a straightforward look into what soldiers went through in combat. Without dwelling on politics, he offers an open, heartfelt portrayal of a regular guy as he goes to war then returns home. CV

Fay Jones was born with a love of literature, which was finely shored up throughout her early years by her parents and a beloved children’s librarian who wore the thickest glasses ever manufactured. Ms. Jones once won a coupon for a free ice cream cone after her suggestion for a name for the local Reading Is Fundamental mascot was selected.

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