Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
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A finalist for the National Book Award!
A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child.
Among the Bravos is the Silver Star–winning hero of Al-Ansakar Canal, Specialist William Lynn, a nineteen-year-old Texas native. Amid clamoring patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers on their cars, the Bravos are thrust into the company of the Cowboys' hard-nosed businessman/owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a luscious born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized pro players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Among these faces Billy sees those of his family—his worried sisters and broken father—and Shroom, the philosophical sergeant who opened Billy's mind and died in his arms at Al-Ansakar.
Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms—soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.
Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a devastating portrait of our time, a searing and powerful novel that cements Ben Fountain's reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
Ben Fountain does an excellent job in creating the gestalt of Bravo squad. The seeming irreverence masking the profound experiences of the young soldiers rings true with my military experience. The juxtaposition of Bravo with the football game is spot on and evocative. It is a great read and falls in with other books such as Catch 22.
Couldn't put it down.
Brilliant and Incisive
A brilliant piece of fiction juxtaposing the brutality of the Iraq War with the hyped spectacle of the 2004 Thanksgiving Dallas Cowboys football game. And at the eye of the maelstrom is the calm wisdom of 19-year-old Army Specialist Billy Lynn of Stovall, Texas. Ben Fountain has crafted a story that others have suggested may become a classic and I agree.