Last One In by Nicholas Kulish

#42 in my 2007 book challenge was Nicholas Kulish’s Last One In, a satire of the war in Iraq. It’s a fish-out-of-water premise when gossip columnist Jimmy Stephens screws up and gets himself sent to cover the imminent US invasion of Iraq. Jimmy is a good everyman character–a little bit sleazy, a lot self-involved, but with an essential goodness that outs in the end. It’s easy to relate to his shock at the conditions and his confusion about so many aspects of his new circumstances. Last One In is dark, funny, and sad. It doesn’t descend to cruelty. It’s a thought-provoking ground-level view of the grueling mundanity of military action as well as the reasons people go, and the reasons people stay or leave.

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