In this vivid, sharp, unflinching look at one part of the Iraq War, Pulitzer prize-winning author David Finkel has written the experience of one unforgettable battalion. Those good soldiers would return home a year and a half later, forever altered by their time overseas. Enthrallingly told, beautifully written and viscerally emotional, “The Good Soldiers” is unsentimental and unrelenting honest read.

January 2007, President George Bush announces a new strategy for the war in Iraq: “The Surge.” Among those sent into this effort are the battalion of young, motivated and optimistic army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, nicknamed the Rangers. 

The front lines of this area of Baghdad are vicious and unforgiving. The government and subsequently the soldiers and their leaders believe a difference can be made — changing the lives of Iraqi families seeking freedom and relief from a torn country. 

But not all Iraqis are welcoming to the effort of the United States, and soldiers would live and operate under near constant gunfire and explosions that would claim life after life and inflict injury after injury. The young men put on more than 60 pounds of armor and weaponry day after day, where they search homes and buildings over the glaringly hot and rancid desert littered with dead and dying cities. They never know who is an innocent civilian, or who is an insurgent with the intention to kill them. Each day, they have no idea if they will live or die or be grievously injured.

The war swallows them up in a conflict they had nothing to do with, and every intention of making better or the worldwide good. there is little end in sight — and soldiers begin to question what they are doing there, and is there any true purpose? They begin to wonder about intelligence and authenticity of politicians and leaders.

This is the war experienced on the ground, month to month, week to week, day by day, soldier to soldier. Finkel has a true sense of character and conveying each young man with a realistic and compelling narrative as they move through hazardous patrols, what they endure when one of their fellow comrades is killed or wounded, or even how to return home after all that they have seen.

“The Good Soldiers” examines this: Was The Surge really a success? Was it worth the loss and effort? Is war a success?

Finkel’s chapters struggle with what the soldiers endure while stationed and fighting on the front lines. It also reminds of us of their own lives — their humanity and all they are missing at home, from work to wives and girlfriends, their trucks and their houses. He reported directly from places where the soldiers stood, each challenging step of the way, relaying their personal and professional stories, their loss, their wins and sometimes their tragic deaths.

The book captures the horrors of war: the violence and the blood and the deaths that would stay with the soldiers long after the battlefields. It also remains with the readers.

Finkel was a Washington Post reporter. His book, “The Good Soldiers,” is an unforgettable work, and one that belongs in every school. The war is one that should never be forgotten, nor the heroes lost in it. It relays the story of these, and so many other, good soldiers. The heroes. These soldiers will not disappear from your mind.

“It wasn’t as if they had a choice. They were soldiers whose choices had ended when they had signed contracts and taken their oaths. Whether they had joined for reasons of patriotism, of romantic notions, to escape a broken home of some sort, or out of economic need, their job now was to follow the orders of other soldiers who were following orders, too. Somewhere, far from Iraq, was where the orders began, but by the time they reached Rustamiyah, the only choice left for a solider was to choose which lucky charm to tuck behind his body armor, or which foot to line up in front of the other, as he went out to follow the order of the day.”