by Brian Van Reet
Pub Date 18 Apr 2017
"An electrifying debut" (The Economist) that maps the blurred lines between good and evil, soldier and civilian, victor and vanquished.
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence
It is April 2003. American forces have taken Baghdad and are now charged with winning hearts and minds. But this vital tipping point is barely recognized for what it is, as a series of miscalculations and blunders fuels an already-simmering insurgency intent on making Iraq the next graveyard of empires.
In dazzling and propulsive prose, Brian Van Reet explores the lives on both sides of the battle lines: Cassandra, a nineteen-year-old gunner on an American Humvee who is captured during a deadly firefight and awakens in a prison cell; Abu Al-Hool, a lifelong mujahedeen beset by a simmering crisis of conscience as he struggles against enemies from without and within, including the new wave of far more radicalized jihadists; and Specialist Sleed, a tank crewman who goes along with a "victimless" crime, the consequences of which are more awful than any he could have imagined.
Depicting a war spinning rapidly out of control, destined to become a modern classic, Spoils is an unsparing and morally complex novel that chronicles the achingly human cost of combat.
"Brian Van Reet's beautiful, intense, and at times
disturbing novel Spoils traces the motivations and
desires of combatants on both sides of the Iraq War, showing us what happens
when increasing violence and chaos start to warp the choices they're able to
--- Phil Klay, author of Redeployment
"Moving immediately into the pantheon of first-rate war
novels, Spoils reads like a nightmare within a tragedy, a story that is
both touchingly classic and brutally modern. This is a definitive record
of the war that marked the end of the American Empire. One of the best
novels of our time in the Middle East."
--- Philipp Meyer, author of The Son and American Rust
"With Spoils Brian Van Reet has given readers an
intensely moving novel. That it is also a nearly comprehensive examination of
our modern wars is a remarkable demonstration of both the power and relevance
--- Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds
“A strong debut…a fine piece of writing that should stand in the front ranks of recent war novels.”
-Kirkus Reviews starred
"I read this with awe. Spoils
is a harrowing and incredibly powerful debut which shows war in all its
complexity and viciousness and which attempts to humanize it through
extraordinary and conflicted characters. The female soldier Cassandra Wigheard
is superbly drawn and her relationship with the young Jihadist will stay with
me for a long time."
--- Kate Atkinson, bestselling author of A God in Ruins
“Van Reet’s unsettling tale is an authentic portrayal of combat with its chaos, fear, and the finality of death. It is also a sobering commentary on war’s brutality and the burning intensity of Iraq’s jihadist insurgency.”