Read: The Fifth Act

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Elliot Ackerman is effortless, and his latest offering "The Fifth Act: America's End in Afghanistan" proves this once again.

Elliot Ackerman is effortless, and his latest offering “The Fifth Act: America’s End in Afghanistan” proves this once again. We live in a country that loves revisionist history, and we live in an era when everyone seems to just invent whatever fictional narrative they want to live by. Math, science, truth and fact be damned. Don’t mind me, I’m just getting my news from Facebook. Ahem. When it comes to news and history, I prefer to wait for the books. Typically, when a book is released, a fair amount of time has passed since the subject matter was front page news. Typically, there is time for research. Typically, there is time for fact checking. Don’t know what fact checking is? It’s the thing that scares our leadership more than anything else and precisely what you won’t find on network news programming. Facts don’t sell.

Ackerman did five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, so you armchair quarterbacks talking like you know what went down might want to think twice about this book. Odds are, this book will enlighten you, so to speak. Our longest war proved to be a machine that was nearly impossible to shut down, and there were mistakes made from the get go. And don’t go blaming one person, one surge or one pull out. There were no innocents in this process. The Republican hawks blaming Biden for the entire war are radicalized idiots who know that is simply what their base wants to hear. Trump’s deal with the Taliban gets overlooked, forgotten or denied. Yes, this is the lunacy we live with. Not to mention our flawed ideology and near complete lack of understanding of the region, culture and history.

But there was another point in this book that was painful to hear but required reading for all Americans. This war was, in great part, our fault. Yes, the American people are to blame. You, me, us. Why? Because we couldn’t be bothered. We were bored. We wanted reality TV and video games. War was a downer, so we just went along with it. Year after year, decade after decade, body after body. A poll taken before the end of the war revealed that 42% of Americans didn’t even know we were still at war. This is disgusting, yet not entirely unexpected. My guess is that the majority of Americas couldn’t find Afghanistan or Iraq on a map.

What I loved about this book is how the author bounces from real time logistics of helping people flee the country to his parallel narrative covering the fact he was on vacation with his family while doing all this. The surreal yet normalcy that often accompanies a war on the other side of the world. Get it, read it.