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Pumpkinflowers
Cover of Pumpkinflowers
Pumpkinflowers
A Soldier's Story of a Forgotten War
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"A book about young men transformed by war, written by a veteran whose dazzling literary gifts gripped my attention from the first page to the last." —The Wall Street Journal "Friedman's sober...
"A book about young men transformed by war, written by a veteran whose dazzling literary gifts gripped my attention from the first page to the last." —The Wall Street Journal "Friedman's sober...
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  • "A book about young men transformed by war, written by a veteran whose dazzling literary gifts gripped my attention from the first page to the last."The Wall Street Journal
    "Friedman's sober and striking new memoir . . . [is] on a par with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried — its Israeli analog."The New York Times Book Review
    It was just one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples that are still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for "casualties." Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing experience of a band of young Israeli soldiers charged with holding this remote outpost, a task that would change them forever, wound the country in ways large and small, and foreshadow the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.


    Pumpkinflowers is a reckoning by one of those young soldiers now grown into a remarkable writer. Part memoir, part reportage, part history, Friedman's powerful narrative captures the birth of today's chaotic Middle East and the rise of a twenty-first-century type of war in which there is never a clear victor and media images can be as important as the battle itself.
    Raw and beautifully rendered, Pumpkinflowers will take its place among classic war narratives by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, and Tim O'Brien. It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today.

About the Author-

  • Matti Friedman is the author of The Aleppo Codex, which won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize, the ALA Sophie Brody Medal, and other awards, and Pumpkinflowers. A former correspondent for the Associated Press, his reporting has taken him from Israel to Morocco, Lebanon, the Caucasus, and Washington, DC, and his work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Tablet, and elsewhere. He was born in Toronto and lives in Jerusalem.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 21, 2016
    Friedman, an Israeli journalist and writer, recounts the history of a hilltop bunker in southern Lebanon that was held by the Israeli army during the 1990s, beginning with the biography of a young soldier stationed there and transitioning into a memoir of his own time on the hill and his post-war visit as a tourist. Friedman’s personal reflections alternate with a history of Israel’s conflict in Lebanon, which he refers to as an unnamed and forgotten war, as he covers civilian sentiment, political responses to war and protest, and military strategy through the period. Though short, the book is remarkably educational and heartfelt: Friedman’s experiences provide a critical historical perspective on the changing climate of war in the Middle East, shifting from short official conflicts into longer unwinnable wars full of guerilla tactics and the deliberate creation of media narratives and images. His lyrical writing, attention to detail, and personal honesty draw the reader into empathy along with understanding. Friedman’s memoir deserves wide readership.

  • Library Journal

    April 15, 2016

    Recipient of the American Library Association's Sophie Brody Award for The Aleppo Codex, Jerusalem-based reporter Friedman here turns his attention to war in this memoir documenting his time with an Israeli platoon in Lebanon in the 1990s. Most of the action takes place in battles atop a highly contested hill nicknamed Pumpkin, with flowers referring to a military term for casualties. Friedman's history of the conflict provides insight into a soldier's life in that region, the cultures of the area, and the politics and repercussions of war. The constant threat of roadside bombs adds a sense that death hovers over the fighters, all amid a political climate that makes it difficult to determine heroes from villains, or if there are such things at all. Short chapters make this account fast and engaging, as if Friedman were clicking through a slideshow, describing each scene with great heart and detail. VERDICT A compelling war memoir containing elements of terror, observation, boredom, and grim (at times absurd) humor. This is an excellent read for anyone interested in military memoirs or biographies, war reporting, and the modern Middle East.--Benjamin Brudner, Curry Coll. Lib., Milton, MA

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Algonquin Books
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A Soldier's Story of a Forgotten War
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