In an article for the New York Times, Van Reet, a veteran of the First Calvary Division in Baghdad and recipient of a James Michener Fellowship, criticized the publishing phenomenon of the “War on Terror Kill Memoir,” exemplified by American Sniper and No Easy Day. Rather than complicate the intricacies of death and combat, argues Van Reet, these books directly satisfy the American public’s morbid curiosity with body counts. Here, in his debut novel, Van Reet does something different, re-creating 2003 Baghdad and illuminating the confusion, patriotism, and regret experienced on both side of the battle lines. The triadic story unfolds around Cassandra, an American soldier captured by members of the Mujahideen Army; Abu Al-Hool, one of Cassandra’s captors; and Sleed, an American soldier searching for Cassandra. Focusing on the internal lives of each character, the author illuminates their individual quests for liberation—physically, spiritually, and ethically—amid the chaos of war. The narrative crescendos toward a bang-up ending involving all three protagonists, with the resolution a distressing commentary on what is gained and lost in the pursuit of victory. VERDICT Van Reet has penned an absorbing novel with an unflinching rumination on war’s ultimate sacrifice, reminiscent of Roy Scranton’s War Porn.