tv Q A CSPAN December 8, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm EST
of the u.k. guardian newspaper talking about british security and nsa surveillance. bulletsweek on "q&a," are prize-winning journalist david finkel discusses his latest book, titled, "thank you for your service." >> david finkel, at what point did you decide to call this book "thank you for your service"? the gamepened late in after i turned in the manuscript and we were searching for a title. i had another one in mind, which was "the suicide room." when i mention that to the publisher, she said, that is just a traffic title. are you trying to put us out of business?
i said, i would read that book. she said, that is really not the right title for this book. we sat and batted it around. there is something about this phrase. i was worried it would come across as judgmental in some way or people would see it as almost bitterly ironic and that was not the intention. it is a much simpler meaning, which comes down to, this is what i got comfortable with finally, if you read the book and get to know the people inside the book, you will have a better sense. if you say this ubiquitous you will have a much clearer idea of what you are thanking them for. >> how many of the people you are writing about in this book were in the first book about iraq, "the good soldiers"? the othersnamed and were circling around the edges, not named. these were people i had gotten to know during the reporting of
the first book, which was in baghdad during the surge. the army infantry battalion. into the part of the war called the search. -- surge. they were there for 15 months in a lousy neighborhood in east baghdad and i was with them to write the first book. not about me, but to write about them. i was with them when bad things happened. we stayed in touch and they became the second -- the people in the new book. >> where was their base? >> kansas. think of the moment. i know it seems like history at this point. i guess it is history. the war had been through several versions at that point. the common perception was the thing was all but lost. it was inching up to what i have
described as the tragic moment of the war. into that moment went to this battalion, 800 guys, most deploying for the first time, young and full of a young men's invincibility. off they went. they had a tough time. >> what was the average age? >> 19, 20. most had not been out of the country before, much less deployed into a war before. were -- theyere were remarkable. filled with the perfect version of what we call patriotism, they had a sense of a large mission in mind. they were going to win this thing. what happened is what happens and they were -- in a war. war is bigger than anything. by the time they came home, they had lost guys, they had physical , and of course they
were changed. now they have to deal with it for a long time. >> how did you select the battalion? company or battalion? >> it was a battalion. now i know the difference. i am not from a military family. i did not know a brigade from a battalion from a company. these were the guys going into it. where ihington post," have been an editor for 23 years, had me go report a story on this next group going into this new thing. while i was reporting that story, the battalion commander just said, you know, you might want to visit us at some point to see how we are doing. maybe do another story at the end to see what has happened to us. out of that came the idea that what i should do is take a lead from "the post," live with these guys, and write a book not about book,aq war, not a policy
but use the war to write a more intimate story about what happens to a young man in such a moment. theou have a photo used on cover of this book. i have seen it before. where did it come from? photois damon winter's for "the new york times." my wife recalled this image and as soon as she showed it to me on the computer, it knocked me out. i sent it to the publisher. she was crazy about it. i mean, i look at this photograph all the time and sometimes i look at it in terms these guys the same look. then you can see how different they look. sometimes i think of where i was sitting on that kind of plane when i was leaving the war after my time on the ground with them. sometimes i look at that
photograph and it seems to be like, forgive me for the image, but the rows at arlington. >> how long do they have to sit in that position? they have their backpacks on? like most of the gear is bundled up in the back on those pallets. sacks and everything. you are full kit. armor,re all your body everything you're supposed to wear in war you are wearing on the plane as you exited the final time. >> what do you see? see six years of what this story has felt like. i have been pursuing this thing since 2007. i have gotten to know these guys and i have gotten to know those planes, those positions, and, again, the transition from invincibility to a flat-out
weariness. a recognition of, this is how it turned out. >> what is the difference andeen "the good soldiers" "thank you for your service"? i had done my job as a journalist. i thought that was it. i was proud of the book. i thought i had got it right. i paid attention to their corner. the big policy stuff, their corner of the were. i told their story well. i thought i was done. withbegan getting in touch me by e-mail, by phone call, and saying, things are not going so hot. they are not sleeping well. some guys talked of anxiousness, depression. there were a couple of suicide attempts. i had read widely enough about the effects of war, and some of
it is common sense, that i thought i had done half the story. let's do the second half, which is the new book. the first one is guys at work. the second one is they come home and now it is their families and them trying to adjust to what life has become after the war. >> you have to read it to know why i am asking this question, but you quote specifically throughout this entire book what people are saying, soldiers, wives, all that. were you present for all these quotes? clicks yes. almost all of them. the style of journalism i do is, i guess you call it immersion journalism and it does not depend so much on an interview after the fact to find out what happened. it depends on being present and being present enough so the interview phase into the type of reporting when you are just there. you don't have to ask questions. you don't want to ask questions. you just want to see what is happening in front of you.
>> they all have to say in advance or sign anything that anything they said, you could use? in thehis point evolution of journalism -- we use to get the benefit of the doubt when i started this kind of thing. not so much anymore. i sit down with people. , explain what i want to do what my style of reporting is. i might give them a couple of samples of previous works so they can make some informed decision about whether they want to be involved. if they say yes, off we go. >> video from the website that you voice over. was this back in 2007? was when this infantry battalion, it was one of the convoys. this is what they did. this is what the war was. they were in convoys going around this rather vicious neighborhood, trying to get to know the populace. the main idea of this
counterinsurgency strategy. basically, what they were doing was driving around waiting to get blown up. at night, they would search for bad guys. guys 16 mean?wo >> it is the designation for this infantry battalion. they all have numbers and identifiers. it is all part of the first infantry division. then you just go down the hill from there with more and more numbers until you can identify the unit. >> here is the video. >> ok. turn tickets, bandages, ammunition and grenades. all of them carry an assault rifle. they go with one foot in front of the other so with a roadside bomb goes off, they lose one foot instead of two. everyday, they get in the humvee and off they go. route -- theyul
are along the road, driving at 10 miles an hour. almost there, the first one turn to write-off the main road. you can see it in the distance right now. there it goes. and then -- >> why did we do that? knowing that these humvees would be blown up? >> they were trying to get from here to there to carry out their corner of the war. along the way, in this part of , in thta part -- that part of baghdad, the shiite area, the weapon of choice was an improvised explosive device, efp. can i take a second to describe it? >> sure. >> to be simple about it, it is
known as a shaped charge. it is a tube filled with explosives. attached to one end, typically, was some type of copper disk perhaps the size of a dinner plate. coming out the other end was a the going to some guy in shadows who was waiting to hit the trigger when a convoy of soldiers reached a certain to aiming point. light: the broken distance and when the convoy hit that, boom. there it goes. plate is propelled forward at such a high velocity, it becomes semi-molten. it, it has been described as tadpole-shaped. it burns through whatever it hits. if it is aimed well, and it was often aimed well, it would burn through a very thick armor door of the very rest humvee we were giving soldiers. it would burn inside and cause
chaos. >> did you shoot video? video. was a helmet the soldiers recorded a lot of things. there is a lot of information about this war, a lot of documentation that comes from individual diaries, from a lot of photographs, from helmet cams. it is out there and available. >> was that a humvee? they might have holes that would deflect these things a little better, but they were slow in coming and they did not reach these guys until the very end of the deployment. they were going around in a humvee. they cost a lot of money. >> witty ride in one of those in a convoy like that? >> sure. if i'm going to be honest about it, at first, and i was with them on the ground for about eight months, maybe a month, six
weeks at a time. at first, i was going out all the time. me, buthe end, forgive i had become rattled enough by the experience, by the explosions, by everything going on, that i only went out when i knew there was a good chance of seeing something new. way to not the perfect do journalism. you want to always go out, be available for the serendipity of what a day might bring. , yeah,oing out in a days i got a little reluctance toward the end. >> let me jump to the middle of your book and one of the soldiers you write about, we will show a photo on the screen. adam schumann. why did he focus on him and where is he today? --you willhumann think i am not capable of the short answer, but i do need to explain him. wast adam one day when i
doing reporting for the first book. it was a relatively quiet time and i was asking around, who do you regard as a great soldier? who do i need to meet? somebody mentioned this guy. i had not heard of him. i had not met him. i went in search of him. i walked into a room. this photograph is later. i have another photograph in the book of what i saw when i walked into his room. soldier withreat this gaunt, haunted look. i introduced myself and he said, i guess i know why you are here. i said, i want to write about you. i hear you are a great soldier and he kind of laughed. he said he was leaving the war that day. he was done. guy had happened was this was on his third deployment. he is a little older, so guys looked up to him.
leader. great soldier. three deployments. by his count, he had been in combat about 1000.days i am in the middle of reading this book right now about world war ii and i went through a passage where, even in that great war where there was almost a sense of morality to it, guiding the mission, in that case, guys had been in combat .or 200 days they would try to take them off the front lines for a while. this guy, 1000 days. he cracked open. he could not do it. >> where did you see him when you first talked to him? waiting for the helicopter to leave the war. we talked a while. then he walked to the helicopter. thinking of how well he had done, performing someone else's policy, and he had done well. he was just cloaked in shame.
he was a sergeant. he was a staff sergeant. there he went. helicopterwar on a with a big red cross on the side and he was embarrassed about it. he came home with a sense of shame and guilt that he had to leave the war. that continues to define much of his life since. -- itrying to overcome was not logical. he had done well. and his own conversation he was having in his head about himself, for whatever reason, he was ashamed and came home. he is busy trying to recover. >> when did you go back to him for this book? >> after the first book came out, i kept in touch with him. he told me one day, i will get the quote a little bit wrong, as iraqmal guy, i was sent to
, where i became crazy. they sent me back to america to become normal and now it is driving me crazy. i liked the sound of it and i was curious about it. then as i got more calls for more people having a difficult time, he became the center of the book. >> if i jump in, i will read some of it back to you. fill in the blanks. page 86. " over, the war became -- what is the point? >> anyone who has been in war will tell you the same thing. over time, ward does not become about policy or omission or winning or losing. it is about the guy next to you. just taking care of the guy next to you. i have to say, the tenderness , if you need as
definition of tenderness, there it is. who is bay? >> he was one of schumann's sol diers. after a day in which another soldier was hit by one of these bombs i described and died, schumann was supposed to be on that mission but for various reasons, he was kept back at the base. he didn't go. best eyes,d the always found the bombs. he was not there that day. a bomb went off. a guy named james died from the explosion. paraphrase to keep out the profanity. " this wouldn't have happened if you were there." he meant it as a compliment, but schumann in this degrading
transition heard it as one more reason he should feel guilty. it was an indictment. the guy would be alive if you had been there. it wasn't a compliment. it was one more thing. >> you say his name was christopher golumby. had loved -- to be a soldier in combat was to fall in love constantly. what did adam do next? he fell apart alone and flew away alone and came home alone. we have a picture so people can see. zoey and jackson, his children. he has felt alone at times ever since. tell us about his life. >> that is adam's wife. as adam was walking to the
helicopter that day, he called her and said he was on his way. at one point in the conversation, she said, i am a little afraid of what you might do to me. her he would not do anything. he hung up but then said, i don't know what i'm going to do. that was one mystery. she, like any military wife at the end of the deployment, actually, he was coming home ill, but she had her own set of expectations. he was going to come home, he would feel safe. they would heal together. everything would be as it was. that is how it started out for her. as the centerpiece of this family he came this skia wentical wound, sa from pure compassion to your tatian to anger -- to irritation
to anger. this is one example of a family trying to heal. >> where do they live now? book,ce the end of the they have moved to north dakota. their marriage did not survive. book, it is athe rather, rather lovely, hopeful moment, as adam experiences his second homecoming from the war, this time coming home from a treatment program. and they life went on realized there was too much children the way they wanted to raise them. they are divorced but they live near each other. >> would you tell us the moment when she thought he was going to commit suicide? >> there were several. you asked earlier if i was present for everything and i was not present for it.
how could i really be present? i had been in kansas and i came back to washington to do reporting here. i started getting texts from saskia saying it had hit the fan now and what had happened. after war, things escalate so quickly. lovingt that seems so can turn and flip and be so out- of-control. this is one of these days. it ended with adam packing to leave. saskia went through his things and saw a hidden handgun and said, what's the deal? he said he was going to take it to sell it because he would need money. on top of the other pressures, they have no money. she just held the gun. he came out with a shotgun and really tried to jam it at her.
to get her goat so much that she would pull the trigger and kill him. to, sheaid she wanted wanted this over, not only to pull the trigger once, she wanted to pull the trigger twice. that is what it had come to. theead, she steps onto porch and screams something like, be a man. she goes on the porch and comes back. a few minutes later, he is nowhere in sight. she searches the house and finally goes downstairs into the basement. the worst room in the house, this furnace room, where adam sometimes would do some work. there he was sitting with a shotgun against his chin. know, it went on for a while until she finally got him to put the gun away. but, one more day in their lives, right? i'm supposed to be a
reporter and completely distant from this, but i know these people. i care about them. mind the if you don't description, privileged having written about them. i am so glad, obviously, that he's still alive. >> there are a lot of stories about a them as you go through the book. were you present for a lot of that? were you in the car with them when they went places? >> yeah. sometimes i had to do back reporting. >> they let you write down anything. did you record it? >> i like to remind people what the relationship is here. yes. i want to see everything. i want to hear everything. i want to be present. it is for a book. there is always a notebook or a digital recorder, some visual
representation of what the relationship is. the credibility came from the first book. they had read it. i knew these folks. ,hen i said i wanted to do this i was yards ahead. i wasn't introducing myself. the credibility was established because of the first book. they wantu know, people to know what is going on. butaybe you don't know, when you see the rebel in -- relevance of a book like this, the first book, how many copies did it sell? >> maybe 150. it is still selling. it has not been retired. >> is that what you expected? >> i expected the book to absolutely disappear. i spec did it to sell five copies and those would be my five copies, right? populare not the most
wars. there was something about the first book. it did find its place and it did resonate. it was a word-of-mouth thing. it kept spreading. ericicsson seki -- shinseki was the head. but get your reaction to this. >> suicides this year can -- suicides every year, 20% of them are asked by veterans. on average, 18 veterans commit suicide each day. underf those veterans are our care at va. veterans who are in treatment every month, and then not having a shot at the other 13, who for some reason have not come under our care, means we have a lot of work to do. >> what do you think? what grade would you give the
veterans administration for dealing with this? >> you will hate this answer. these are some --the strength of the books is that they are free of my opinion. i don't want to mess that up now by giving a grade or opinion. i can reflect the experiences of what i saw. maybe that will help people make their own decision. >> let me ask a different way. sent to thee you military and veterans administration are worried about this? people readers will spend time within the new book is pete corelli. four-star in the army that for a run the iraq war while. was promoted to vice chief of staff of the army. of his brief included mental health wounds and
suicide. we know this. we have read this. of active of suicides military guard reserves is steadily rising, enough that the military is authentically concerned about what is going on. what can we do about this? corelli had this idea of convening a monthly meeting. >> he used to be number two in the army. >> he was. he came up with the idea of this monthly meeting, maybe 20 guys around a conference table. video linkups to various posts around the world. for two hours, they would sit and go through suicide after suicide. minutes. spend five what happened, what lessons were learned? if anybody knows corelli, he's a smart guy. he is passionate, almost obsessive. he was really going after this. he would say, i want nothing
less than to change the culture of the army. about reducingch suicide, but making it more acceptable for people to say, i have a psychological wound, and get past the stigma of such a thing. we didn't do this. arguably, changes the culture of the army. he went at it hard for three years. he did not shy away from these meetings, and these were pretty brutal affairs. i said theyshinsek were dying at a rate of 18 a day. have the numbers gone up? >> one of the editors looked at that number. there were some other people. were studying at hard. now the number works out to about 22 a day. >> 22 suicides a day. >> these are anybody who served, who is in the va system. of course, you look at the numbers.
a lot of these are vietnam guys. the hard part seems to be that, yes, they have committed suicide, but they have had years, they have had decades of other life experiences since serving. you can say, yes, it was a suicide, yes, it was a guy that served, but i don't think it is a clean line. no way to have a clean line to say it was directly related to a war experience. mann meetingmr. schu with one of his so called best friends, stephen, in the middle of all this. lunch with the wives. i want to read it. i'm sure you will remember this. they met a few years later when adam was home and both were trying to recover. wtu. what is that? units.ior transition
,s the psychological injuries as the army realized there is something going on here, they trained these special units, special attention, to try, in theory, to help a guy get back to his unit or make the transition into civilian life. that is the intent of these things. >> you are right. they decided to introduce their lives -- their wives to each other. first at dinner, things were rolling along just fine -- >> right. he got up. >> were you there for that one tackle -- that one? >> i was not. i was there for another one with
saskia. tough deployment as well. he has some injuries to deal with. that is something that happened one day. they got up and continued. these are hard things. >> you go on to talk about the money, $11,000. tell that story. >> it is more a way to get across how hurt and jilted, i think, they were feeling by the system.ebang, the whole in the midst of everything, they were just scraping by, trying to find money. stephen called up one day and said for some reason, they found a bunch of money in there checking account that came from the government. $11,000. it was one more thing for adam feel lousy about.
if you read the book, this section where they seem to be angry at the good luck their friends had gotten, it was a way of saying how hurt they were becoming by nothing working out for them. us, they, like any of had things to work out. >> how did they make friends under the circumstances? they were living near fort -- >> right. a lot of the book, if the truth to be the guyut next to you, the truth of the after-war is that you are pretty much on your own. adam came back and even though he had his family, he was more and more isolated in this shameful conversation he is having with himself. there is a thing i describe in the book, there is another guy named michael emery. to get to that.
quite early in his deployment, he was shot in his head. he was on a rooftop in the sniper got a clean shot into his head. >> in iraq. >> he went down on the rooftop and they needed to get him down three flights of stairs. adam schumann put him on his puffed hisffed and way down the stairway. i don't want to get too graphic. much of the blood coming out of the head wound kind of drained into adam's mouth. on the day i met him six months later when he was leaving, the taste of this blood was still something that was quite fresh. >> let me read what he wrote. quickly. of blood,r the taste the heat of the blood, the wet of the blood as it spilled onto his uniform and through his uniform and onto his skin.
>> yeah, so that is what he remembered. was happened, emery medi-vac'ed out. should be dead but somehow is alive. >> how old was he? >> a little older. young 30's at that point. >> where was this? tour?umann's third tour.his they were out on a mission. this is april, 2007. wass not on that rooftop, i probably a block away when it happened. >> did you talk to him right after it happened? >> no, i did not talk to him until six months later when he was leaving. i was going around with commanders and they were getting radio reports of the shootings and the injuries taking place on that mission. , i guess, a version of
what the army keeps talking about is resilient. he is alive, he walks, he talks. he is missing a good chunk of his brain. especially the part that regulates emotions. he has had a tough go of it. he lives in georgia now. great guy. he's pretty much on his own. >> entirely? was he married? >> yeah, but he was taken care of by a woman in bethesda. i read number going to visit him while she was there. she kept saying, i love you, i love you. he was barely walking and talking. she stuck with him. as he recuperated and could not control his anger, it reached a point where he had his wife and their baby move to a different state because he had gone a little berserk one day. he could not help himself. >> lived in a double wide trailer.
>> they went to another state. to growwould not have up around a man such as himself and that was the generous thing he could do. he was kind of living on his own. one day he got in touch with schumann by facebook. he said, i want to come visit. schumann had not seen him since the day he was on his back. adam is going through what he is going through in kansas. emery is over here in georgia. they get together for a weekend. honest to god, the tenderness i described between soldiers, here it is. >> were you there? >> yeah. it was the most heartbreaking, gorgeous weekend imaginable. >> explained that. emery stayed in a motel. >> yeah. schumann was sometimes incapable
of saying a word to his family in any kind of tender way. over, knocked on the door, realize he needed help getting dressed, putting a brace on. the way they were toward each other, it was quite something to see. n's wife sees this and is thinking -- >> he is capable of this? why isn't he capable of this with me? it is like three-dimensional chess. there are so many moves going on. there was a heart of the first book where you realized all the levels of mistrust going on. for instance, here goes this convoy of soldiers out into a neighborhood and they see a kid waiting. this is what you're supposed to do, make friends with the populace. what is the kid seeing? the kid is seeing, here comes the americans. the americans are in this
armored humvee behind the thick skin showing because they are so protected from bomb blasts. the hand is just a glove. that is what the kid sees. what the soldiers are seeing is a waving kid. maybe he is waving, maybe he is signaling to somebody, hit the trigger now. tot was the war, trying figure out what is really going on, what is the motivation for any action. ,t is the after-war when saskia so eager to have her family healed, very moved by what is going on between her husband and this other soldier, is also feeling a little hurt and jealous to see what is going on between her husband and the soldier. >> it is not a long book. your first one was how long? >> a little longer. maybe 280 pages. >> who decided you would keep it short? >> i guess i did.
i wrote everything i had to say and then thought, i'm done. >> how did you go about the writing of this? when did you write this new book? off reported this new book and on for a couple of years. it was last year, i guess, i compiled notes and it's a good ofng to do, take a pile chronology and then engage with it. this is storytelling. it is not just documentation. i am telling a story about these people. to engage with the material every day and shape it into a narrative, figure out the beginning, figure out the end, outline the things that happened, it took about a year. it was a pretty good thing to do. >> what is your technique of writing? beginning, first sentence, when i am satisfied with it, i will write the next
one. it is slow. i don't know another way to do it. i write and rewrite my way to the end. when i rewrite the last sentence, i am pretty much done. >> your first sentence of the prologue, you could see it in his nervous eyes. how long did it take you to decide to write that sentence? >> the prologue comes from the first book. it established the character of adam on the day he left the war and saw the helicopter he was leaving on was a red cross helicopter, how did feeding that was to him. it is a very short prologue. it introduces, this is an after-war book. here is a guy that left with some sense of shame. you turn the page and the new book is underway. the first line of the new book is, "two years later, adam drops the baby." >> let's go to the end, then.
>> don't give away the end. [laughter] >> i won't, then. fair trade. there is a lot of copy and there. let's go back. the dedication page. melip beakman, who taught about damage and recovery. beakman, who taught about damage and recovery. >> the first book was tough because it was scary. this book was tough because it got into psychological territory. i was not really prepared in some ways to know what war was like. i did not know what the mental damage is.
i went into this book with some understanding of what these families might be going through, when suicide became an everyday premise. >> is mom still alive? >> she is not. no. she was alive for the first book. >> what was her reaction? >> you know, she was -- my journalism had allowed me to finally write something that, instead of dismissing, i was proud of. >> how close, during the eight months you were in the country, did you come close to getting fired on or did get fired on? >> yeah, well, everybody was there and everybody got fired on. it happened. i want to be careful because if there is a soldier watching, i don't want anyone to think that i'm aligning myself at all with what soldiers have gone through. they had to carry weapons.
they didn't get to leave whenever they wanted to take breaks. things like that. nevertheless, they were on the ground for actually about 14 months. i was with them for little more than eight months. yeah. things happened. i was there and things happened that i was in the midst of as well. the good thing about that was, when i showed up, of course, soldiers didn't want a reporter in their midst. they didn't know what a reporter was. if i had an agenda, liberal press, every reporter thinks a soldier is a war criminal, every reporter thinks a soldier is a baby killer, etc. by staying, by not visiting, but staying, and then by staying in being in the midst of some bad things, and the smoke clearing, and the soldiers see me at the ege taking notes -- the edge
taking notes, not being a problem for them, that is where the credibility came. >> you also dedicate this to ms. hill for saying ok. my wife, when i asked her to marry me, she said, ok. >> she knew what she was going to get? >> does anyone? [laughter] >> what did she think about you going into harms way? joke.ould make a lame after 33 years of marriage, one day she said, don't you have a war to go to, or something like that. of course, she was worried, but we have a marriage where we allow each other of the things -- each other the things we want to do and she knew i wanted to do this, so i did. >> let's go back to the writing part of this. where do you write a book like this? house. room of my
good coverage, good windows. it was pretty fun, you know. it was helpful to engage with this stuff. downstairs, up, go write a sentence, if i liked the sentence, i would walk into the kitchen, grab a cookie, comeback, write a sentence, then grab a cookie. this is not the worst year of my life. >> did you do it quickly e -- quickly? >> no. >> do uae to a cookie before every sentence? >> is a pretty systematic thing. i've been taught by people who did this, when they describe what they do, most of them seem have an end point in mind. i knew if the book was due in so many months, i had a very good
outline. i knew what my chapters were going to be. i knew the points i wanted to hit in the chapter. i did the math, three weeks per chapter. i think having deadlines allows me to live with some sentences that otherwise i would be finessing the rest of my life. the first book and randomly open to any page and point to a sentence, i will do this sometimes, and look at it and say, what was i thinking on that one? nonetheless, the cumulative effect is, i got the story right. reasons i know that is because of the reactions of soldiers since that book has come out. mails,ow, writing e- hundreds of them by now, saying a version of, i was in war, came i know what it's like, don't want to talk about it, can't talk about it, i read your to peoplei give it
and say, read this thing, and then you know what i'm talking about. that is an endorsement. andid attention, listens, gained credibility. i gained their trust. i wrote a book that pretty much mirrors their experience. that was the intent, to describe -- these are significant wars. there have been policy books. there were memoirs. there was not a journalistic account of the ground level far end of policy. that is what the first book was. archive,an add to the this is what is going on currently with people, some of the people among whom have been in those wars. assumen't want to something by asking this question. when were you the most frustrated with some aspect of the military or the u.s. government getting in your way,
not being helpful? >> no, i got pretty lucky. were iny, these guys such a lousy place that there were no public affairs officers. i was pretty much on my own. >> explained the difference between having one there or not. >> i should be careful. ae pao for these guys was great guy. he was often in another place. if he wasn't -- he wasn't present. he wasn't, how are you doing, david, how can i help? the commander would say, i will give you full run. he was good to his word. that is a huge break. i really got to decide every day what i wanted to do, what i wanted to see. the only barriers to reporting were barriers i would put myself. full guns ahead. >> you do this in the book. what is the women's, the
girlfriends, the wives, sto the people messry -- story that people miss? infantry, at least for now, is an all-male enterprise. when i made the decision to follow some of these people in the new book, i'm not describing the experiences of women who have served and are dealing with this. that is not this book. that will be another book for another person. the women in this book were widows, wives, girlfriends. they're the people who were back here. now, the war has shifted. but it ise corniness, like the front lines have become
their houses for this after-war part. they want things to be better. they are not victims, by any sense, even though in some sense they have been victimized by the were experienced. they are strong, interesting people. dealing with their own set of problems as they realize this thing wasn't just over there. now it is back here and we have to deal with it. >> what other spouse and your book had the most interesting story? >> they all did. >> just pick one of them. --she is an amazing person. died., whose husband james doster. he is the one who died on the day that adam did not go out on the mission. yearsfe, his widow, three later, is still missing him.
thatng him so thoroughly on a given day, she might be driving in small-town kansas and be stopped at a light and look at the pest-control truck next to her, this happened to her, and it was her husband driving the truck. her.l made such sense to he left the war, did not want to be there, came home, got a job driving a pest-control truck, he is saving money, laying low, and sometime he will come home and ring the bell and say, i'm home. after years of this, and inability to move on, friends losing patience with her, then we get to see amanda doster on a closings an attempt of a chapter out, she decides to take some of her benefit money from her dying and move out of the house where she promised he home.be when he came
milesct of moving two down the street was supposed to be an attempt at healing for her. it is really interesting to me. >> there are a lot of scenes that you tell us about where w alls or fists go into walls. a lot of damage done. were you there when that ever happened? which one? >> let me tell you about one i wasn't there for. i want to talk about this one soldier. to help get across the idea of what these folks are dealing with, if i can do it quickly, there is a guy who was blown up in a humvee one day. i was there that day. i was not at the convoy. i was at the aid station. there he is right after the explosion. a lot of guys in the humvee. that look on his face.
this thing is blown up in the air, thing comes down hard. he has a broken leg, gets out of the humvee. it just blows up. ok. broken leg. realizes there are guys inside. makes his way back and help us pull out a couple of other wounded guys. no one gets the driver. the 19-year-old burns to death in his seat as it catches fire. rounds go off. i remember meeting him at the aid station and being with them when they found out the other guy had died. what happened after that, this is a guy who, i think if you were in that war on that day, you would likely behave as he behaved. american samoan. he begins having the stream. -- this dream. the dream is of the guys who died, not the guys who were saved.
he says, why didn't you save me? after maybe a year, a couple years of this dream, he falls apart. apartment.s has to be hospitalized. is put in a ptsd program run by the va. what happens to him in that program and what happens to others that get into that program, it gets at one of the results of these wars. we have a system in place to help psychologically deal with folks, that their experiences what an overwhelmed and in many ways flawed the system these guys get to heal him. >> is there another book in this? >> i don't know. guys go to war, guys come home. >> what is your sense when you finish this? there'll be a third book that
follows up five years from now? >> i don't want to give up the story. i am not seeing it. i don't see what the third book is. my interest will be there. i don't know how -- i mean, this is a business, right? i may want to tell a story, but it does not mean a publisher will want to publish it. >> we only have a couple seconds left. why have you done a very strenuous book tour? >> the book tour? i am trying as hard as i can to get people interested in this story. of course, i want to sell books, but there is something underneath it. i understandow what these folks have been through. i got to see it and i got to tell it. so i want to go around and do it i can to get people to have an accurate sense of what is going on, not over there anymore, it is here. it is happening coast-to-coast.
it is not the worst thing to pay attention to it. >> i don't have any more time left, but i know you are a senior writer at the center for new american security. >> i was. >> no more. >> i was a writer in residence and they help support the book by paying for my travels. >> david finkel, we have to go back to the cover shot that you have, "the new york times." what plane are they in? c-5? >> c-17. the big one with the jets, not the props. >> the name of this book by david finkel is "thank you for your service," the follow-up to his first book called "the good soldiers." thank you very much for joining us.
♪ >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org. they are also available as c- span podcasts. >> next, british deputy prime minister nick clegg taking questions from members of the house of commons. then, the editor of the guardian testifies about publishing the edward snowden intelligence leaks. at 11:00 p.m., another chance to &a" with award-winning author david finkel. >> on the next washington journal --
bixby talks about the possibility of another government shutdown. and the role of medicaid under the affordable care act. andrew tillman examines military personnel costs and their impact on the defense department budget. journal," live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> they covet my mental health work, the first few meetings we had. one day, i was walking in the white house and met this woman who was one of the press people. said, nobody ever covers my meetings. she