Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 105

The White Donkey: Terminal Lance

by Maximilian Uriarte
Genre notes: military, marines, PTSD
288 pages
ISBN: 0316362832 (Amazon)

A friend recommended this to me earlier in the year and I kind of hate him for it, because as I read this one night in Starbucks I sat there blurry-eyed and hyperventilating because I just saw in graphic detail how a kid I used to teach died in Iraq in 2007. The circumstances were identical.

Reading that scene was shocking and horrible and brought back a lot of anger in me that had largely simmered down in the decade since. Anger at our leaders for spending young lives so prodigally. Anger at our culture for making signing up for old rich white men's wars seem like a glory and an adventure.

My friend signed up for a mix of motivations. He wanted adventure and he wanted to live in honour of the memory of another friend who had signed up and died in Iraq. Maybe it was Afghanistan. I don't remember. He was a lance corporal too, like the guys in this book. And the hole he left demolished a lot more than his own life. My brother worked with one of his best friends (non-military) years later and the guy was a shelled out mess.

All of that may render me incapable of approaching The White Donkey with much objectivity. It's a good book, I think. One that takes you through the brief career of a Marine, from training to promotion to deployment to return to... after. It's written by a Marine who was in Iraq for four years and casts a wry look at the mechanism of the American military. It's funny and sad and is born out of his own experiences with fear, jubilation, trauma, loss, and hope.

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