Author(s): Matti Friedman
It was one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; 'flowers' was the military code word for casualties. Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing, otherworldly experiences of a band of young men, plucked by conscription from westernised boyhoods, and charged with holding this remote outpost - a pointless task that changed them forever and foreshadowed the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Part memoir, part reportage, part elegy for lost youth, this powerful narrative captures the birth of today's chaotic Middle East and the rise of a 21st century type of war in which there is never a clear victor, and innocence is not the only casualty. Raw and beautifully rendered, Pumpkin flowers will take its place among classic war narratives by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, Vasily Grossman and Micahel Herr. It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today.