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The Good Soldiers by David Finkel

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A true war story blurs the line between fact and fiction, where it is neither true nor false at the same time. What is true and what is not depends on how much you believe it to be. In the chapter “How to Tell a True War Story” from the novel “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, the author provides various definitions to how the validity of a war story can be judged. The entire chapter is a collection of definitions that describe the various truths to what a true war story is. Unlike O’Brien, who is a novelist and storyteller, David Finkel, the author of “The Good Soldiers”, is a journalist whose job is to report the facts. Yet in the selection that we read, chapter nine, Finkel uses the convention of storytelling, which relies heavily on the stories the combat troops tell each other or him personally. Finkel attempts to give an unbiased view of the Iraq war through the stories of the soldiers but in doing so, Finkel forfeits the use of his own experiences and his own opinions. From O’Brien’s views on what a true war story is combined with my own definitions, I believe that Finkel provides a certain truth to his war stories but not the entire truth.

The truth to any war does not lie in the depths of storytelling but rather it’s embedded in every person involved. According to O’Brien, “A true war story does not depend on that kind of truth. Absolute occurrence is irrelevant. A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth” (pg. 80). Truths of any war story in my own opinion cannot be fully conveyed or explained through the use of words. Any and all war stories provide specific or certain facts about war but each of them do not and cannot allow the audience to fully grasp the tru...

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...rting the truth, I believe that his delivery method fails to impress thus making the truth seem false. Finkel’s war stories rely heavily on facts, which in my own opinion make it read like a textbook rather than a story. Even though Finkel gives an unbiased report of the Iraq war, in doing so he forgoes the traditional storytelling methods and undertakes the method of reporting. Finkel provides concrete factual evidence but fails to also portray emotional truths which make it hard to believe. For any storyteller, the hardest part is getting the attention of the audience and once the attention is obtained, the next hardest thing is keeping that attention. Finkel’s texts tend to lose the audience from time to time, and according to O’Brien, if Finkel cannot make the audience believe than truth is obsolete which makes his war stories false even though they are true.
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