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Afghanistan US Army

Review of Hooligans of Kandahar by Joseph Kassabian

This is the memoir of a US army corporal (who later gets demoted to specialist) and his deployment in Afghanistan with his squad nicknamed The Hooligans’. Living up to their name this notorious squad did plenty of outrageous things ranging from mostly harmless stuff like stealing another squad’s air conditioner to the potentially fatal firing of a grenade launcher aimed dangerously near themselves trying to skip it on the ground like stones on water.

Unlike most other war-zone memoirs, this never shies away from revealing the filthy side of the military at all. Of course, the author has deep respect for the military – their heroic sacrifices and the brotherhood he had with his squad members present and past. This does not mean that he would hesitate to call a spade a spade when personally he hated almost everyone he has served with. He frankly tells you what toll war takes on a soldier’s psyche and body which are already taxed by horrible living conditions in military bases.
The writer describes the quirks of each member in his squad and the dynamics of the group, As the book progresses The internal jokes stemming from previous chapters give the narrative a very coherent flow. The reader feels as if he is right there with them experiencing everything firsthand. The narration is extremely descriptive with detailed pen pictures of every squad member covering their peculiarities from their uncanny accents to their often atrocious hygiene habits.


US Soldier

Each chapter covers a significant event including its buildup and the aftermath. To communicate the frustration and agony originating from inhumane living conditions and backbreaking missions, the author makes liberal use of crass language which effectively gets the point across that a war-zone is nothing short of hell. The author does not glorify the Hooligan’s actions, for example he would bluntly tell you how they reacted to children throwing rocks or afghan men jeering at them while they dutifully patrolled their designated area. He does not even try to defend himself as he tells you how he threw his weapon at a NCO in a fit of temper or how he let a National Guard sergeant know how lowly he thought of them among other instances of benign insubordination (none of which led to his demotion!).

Most of all, I admired the honesty and bluntness of the book. It painted a realistic picture of what it is like to serve in a war torn country like Afghanistan like few others do. Unlike a lot of other war memoirs that would not speak a word against their army lest they tarnish their holier than thou image, this has abundant criticism of the way US army works – neglecting the needs of its soldiers while burdening them with tasks that contradict themselves like constructing a school which then serves as shelter for Taliban which eventually gets razed to the ground by aerial bombing.

The events cover a wide variety of elements from seemingly obtuse decisions made by higher ups in the hierarchy to the Afghan security forces that are mostly non-cooperative, occasionally even hostile and as speculated by him always rooting for the Taliban, all of the chapters are intriguing and often hilarious, full disclosure – I laughed out loud three times and chuckled at almost every other page. This was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading

This is a book that made me feel grateful for the cushy civilian life I get to live and all the safety and comfort that the soldiers are deprived off, it also deepened the respect I have for men and women in uniform serving their countries.
The next time you are about to complain and lash out for some inconvenience, remember that you have it better than a lot of people and they aren’t even complaining despite of facing hardships that will make your problems look puny.

Pro tip: The author’s twitter handle is @jkass99 follow him, he is hilarious.


You can find the book here.

We would like to thank for providing us the book for review.

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