On the ground

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  November 5, 2008

Filkins's micro approach to the war on terror is blunt and sobering, but it's in the rare moments where the reporter isn't working that the scope of his experience hits home. Interspersed throughout The Forever War are stories of Filkins's five-mile runs through Iraq, where citizens cheer his chutzpah ("Good, good!"), he's tailed by innocent barefoot children and feral dogs, and increasingly vigilant security checkpoints and fresh concrete walls begin to impede his routes. Like the Iraqis who reopen storefronts under the constant threat of violence, Filkins isn't running because he's cocky or brazen; even he needs some routine in the midst of endless chaos.

Christopher Gray can be reached at cgray@phx.com.

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins | published by Knopf | 368 pages | $25

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