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Book Review: The Surge

The Surge. Adam Kovac. Indianapolis: Engine Books, January 15, 2019, Trade Paperback and E-book, 182 pages.

Reviewed by Jennifer Schulz.

The Surge follows Larry Chandler during the final weeks of his tour in Iraq, as he attempts to overcome his physical and emotional wounds and make a connection with the men he was sent there to lead. 

With five weeks remaining on their tour, Chandler and his men are assigned a far more dangerous mission than any they’d been deployed on previously. The men make it clear they are hoping to finally see some action and earn medals like the ones Chandler received after Afghanistan. Chandler does not share their feelings, but he does not know how to explain why, nor does he believe they would understand.

Throughout the book, Kovac’s writing conveys what Chandler and the others at Camp Tucson are experiencing. He also provides a glimpse of their reality: what they eat, where they sleep, and what they are doing when not actively engaged in battle. As scouts for the convoys, they’re tasked with searching for potential ambushes and bombs and must check animal carcasses along the side of the road to make sure they were not left there intentionally to conceal a bomb. 

Readers are likely to connect with Chandler and understand his men well enough to hope they all make it out alive and intact. Most of the action takes place toward the end, but the whole story is enjoyable and interesting to read, with sufficient action and suspense to keep readers wanting to know what happens next. 

The Surge is not full of high-suspense action or blood and guts. Instead, it focuses on the day-to-day, week-to-week inner workings of one man's mind as he tries to keep his men and himself alive when every day could easily be their last. 

Inspired by Adam Kovac’s deployments with the U.S. Army infantry to Panama, Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan, The Surge details the experience of serving in the modern military and how it impacts the thoughts and feelings of the men and women who serve. It’s a good book to grab for an easy and enjoyable weekend read that could be finished in one sitting.


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