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There are all kinds of reasons why people read, all of which are equally valid and important. Some read for escape and entertainment. Others want to experience historic, futuristic, or fantasy settings and characters. A lot of us read for the sheer appreciation of language and story as art. Still others want relatable characters that are so well formed they seem like real people.
Kevin Powers said that he wrote his novel The Yellow Birds in response to the question he so often receives from others about his time in Iraq—“what was it like over there?” This question and the impossibility of its answer reveal the vast chasm between the experiences of American soldiers and civilians in the last decade. How would a soldier even begin to describe the experience to someone so very far removed from the extremes of war?