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Baghdad Express

Book Review

 

Title:

Baghdad Express

Author:

Joel Turnipseed

Publisher:

Borealis Books, St.  Paul, MN

ISBN:

0-87351-450-5

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

June, 2003

Rating:

1/2

Baghdad Express is a story from the  Gulf War written by Joel Turnipseed, a marine lance corporal. This story is told directly from his daily perspective of the battle, from leaving the United  States until when he returned.

Lance Corporal Turnipseed had the unusual and highly necessary job of providing  logistics to the marines at the front lines. Driving alone at times, and occasionally with an Arab co-driver, he delivered supplies of all types. From howitzer rounds  to gasoline to breakfast cereal, his unit ran supplies up and down the coast.

Turnipseed is a writer and philosopher and found he was constantly out of synch  with his fellow marines, earning the name "The Professor." Reporting  to his reserve unit after a short "AWOL" period before the war started, he is shipped out to the Persian Gulf packing a collection of philosophy books along with his combat equipment. Being lower ranked, he is assigned mundane jobs including guard duty and truck maintenance, while still pulling all-night shifts driving supplies. He gets lost several times, including one episode that leaves him only one mile from Iraqi positions lost and stuck in the sand.

Though there are not many combat tales in this book, the author shows the long hours of boredom and tedious work for those marines not directly involved in  combat. The language he uses in recalling the events gives one the feeling that  they are there with the marines, listening in on their thoughts and fears. Another  interesting feature is that there are a number of cartoon panels scattered throughout the book illustrating the events in each chapter, something I haven't seen in this type of book before.

Readers will find parts of this tale almost like a real-life "Catch-22"  story with cynicism and dry humor throughout. It is an interesting story about the war as seen by those that perform combat support and supply and the other mundane tasks that keep the troops going. It tells little about combat, but  instead shows how the marines felt about this mission and leaving their loved  ones at home.

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