Just Another Soldier - A Year on the Ground in Iraq

Just Another Soldier is frequently profane, uproarious, vulgar, searing and poignant, but always nakedly honest. He writes about life and loose bowels and self-abuse and death – kind of how Holden Caulfield might write if he loved the Army as much as Hartley says he does.

-Brooke Gladstone, host of “On The Media”, National Public Radio

On September 28, 2003, the blog “Just Another Soldier” went online. The original address for the blog was www.recognizant.com/myiraq. The first post to the blog was a photograph of Jason Christopher Hartley standing in uniform between buildings 4 and 5 of the World Trade Center in front of the wreckage of Ground Zero that came to be known among those who worked there as “The Pit”. Hartley spent the first eleven days after the attack as part of the de facto perimeter guard. It was there that he sensed he would be wearing that uniform quite a bit over the next few years. Two years later his New York Army National Guard unit was activated to be sent to Iraq.

The blog was shut down by the Army after being online for five months, but Hartley continued to write, sending his stories out to a private emailing list. During the penultimate month of his deployment, he resurrected the blog, this time at the address www.justanothersoldier.com, only to be shut down again by the Army and punished.

Approximately half the book is material originally from the blog. The rest was written by Hartley once he returned from Iraq.

Below is the text describing the book, found inside its cover:

THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER’S WAR.

This is Iraq, where a soldier’s first duty is reinforcing his Humvee with sheet metal and sand bags. Or, in the absence of plumbing, burning barrels of human waste. Where any dead dog on the side of the road might be concealing an insurgent’s bomb and anyone could be the enemy.

At age 17, Jason Christopher Hartley joined the Army National Guard. Thirteen years later, he is called to active duty, to serve in Iraq. Sent to a town called Ad Dujayl, made notorious by Saddam Hussein’s 1982 massacre, Hartley is thrust into the center of America’s war against terrorism. This is his story.

“If you are distrustful of the media and want to know exactly what’s going on in Iraq, you’ll have to pray for divine enlightenment, because only god knows what the hell is going on over here. However, if you want to know how it feels to be a soldier in Iraq, to hear something honest and raw, that I can help you with.”

Sometimes profane, often poignant, and always nakedly candid, Just Another Soldier takes the reader past the images seen on CNN and the nightly news, into the day to day reality of life on the ground as an infantryman, attached to the 1st Division, in the first war of the 21st century. From the adrenaline rush of storming a suspected insurgent’s house, to the sheer boredom of down time on the base, to the horror of dead civilians, Hartley examines his role as a man, as a soldier and as an American on foreign soil. His quest to discover the balance between his compassionate side and his baser instincts, results in a searing portrait of today’s Army and a remarkable personal narrative written in a fresh and exciting new voice.

Just Another Soldier is more than a war story; it delivers an intimate look at a generation of young men and women on the front lines of American policy.

Whether you’re for or against the war in Iraq, this is essential reading.