Green on Blue
William Wohlforth, Daniel Webster Professor of Government

I had the honor to meet novelists Eliot Ackerman and Matt Gallagher when they came to Dartmouth this year under the auspices of the Dickey Center’s War and Peace Program. These talented writers happen to be veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their stories are set in those conflicts. But I cannot stress emphatically enough what so many critics have already said about these books: please do not think of them as “war novels;” they are simply splendid, powerful novels that happen to be set in wartime Iraq and Afghanistan and that could only have been written by veterans of those wars. Each features bold and ultimately completely successful plot devices. In the case of Gallagher’s YoungBlood, it’s almost a mystery/romance played about against the backdrop of the waning days of the U.S. presence in Iraq. In Ackerman’s Green on Blue, the entire story is told through the eyes of young Afghan protagonist caught up in the social and political forces that have driven three decades of war. Each is a page turner—I could see each as a blockbuster movie. Each conveys insights about war in a potent way only fiction can convey. Each reaches beyond those themes—reviews rightly invoke Hemingway. So, sure, each of this is a good summer read and will keep you engaged even if you are on a busy beach. But they are so very, very much more.