Bing West, "The Last Platoon: A Novel of the Afghanistan War" (Bombardier Books, 2020)


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The Last Platoon: A Novel of the Afghanistan War (Bombardier Books, 2020) is a riveting book of infantry ground combat. As a work of fiction it is superb, showing the personal drama, drives and experiences of regular Marines combined with the high ambitions and political maneuverings of the highest ranks, including the President and Secretary of Defense. This narrative is not just fictional. It is a pastiche of the lives of Marines that Bing West has followed over the course of the last twenty years, with each firefight being a compilation of his own, personal experiences. This fact makes this book of interest not just to people looking to read fiction, but also to anyone who wants to know what war is like, how it impacts the people around them and just what happens in the far reaches of Afghanistan. More than an action story, this is a story of the morality of war told by someone who knows how it feels and what it means.

In this episode, Bing and I discuss his life and background; his experiences of America’s wars in the Middle East; his analysis of America’s success and failures; how these wars compare to his own, Vietnam, and the wars of the past; and what challenges future warfare could pose to the United States.

Jeffrey Bristol holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Boston University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. He practices law, works as an independent scholar and serves as a naval officer in the US Navy Reserve. He lives in Tampa, Fl.

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