in a suspenseful and smart fiction debut that has been called “thrilling, tragic, and darkly funny.”
The US military is preparing to withdraw from Iraq, and newly-minted lieutenant Jack Porter struggles to accept how it’s happening—through alliances with warlords who have Arab and American blood on their hands. Day after day, Jack tries to assert his leadership in the sweltering, dreary atmosphere of Ashuriyah. But his world is disrupted by the arrival of veteran Sergeant Daniel Chambers, whose aggressive style threatens to undermine the fragile peace that the troops have worked hard to establish.
As Iraq plunges back into chaos and bloodshed and Chambers’s influence over the men grows stronger, Jack becomes obsessed with a strange, tragic tale of reckless love between a lost American soldier and Rana, a local sheikh’s daughter. In search of the truth and buoyed by the knowledge that what he finds may implicate Sergeant Chambers, Jack seeks answers from the enigmatic Rana, and soon their fates become intertwined. Determined to secure a better future for Rana and a legitimate and lasting peace for her country, Jack will defy American command, putting his own future in grave peril.
Pulling readers into the captivating immediacy of a conflict that can shift from drudgery to devastation at any moment, Youngblood provides startling new dimension to both the moral complexity of war and its psychological toll.
"Gallagher’s riveting combination of gritty military jargon, sharply drawn characters, and suspenseful story line adds up to one of the best modern war novels since Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam classic, The Things They Carried (1990). Highly recommended." —Booklist, starred review
“A complex tale about the Iraq War, intrigue, love, and survival. Gallagher follows up on his successful first book, the memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War (2010), with a smart Iraq War novel that adds something new to the genre—new genres. Gallagher subtly weaves throughout this excellent, brutal tale intrigue, a mystery, and two compelling love stories… A fresh twist on the Iraq War novel adds depth to this burgeoning genre.” —Kirkus, starred review
"A flat-out great novel about the Iraq war and about much, much more. It's truthful, urgent, grave and darkly funny. Everyone should read it." —Richard Ford
"Youngblood is not only a 'war novel,' it is a rich, fully formed, and beautifully executed novel-novel, way beyond the chicken coops of genre, a novel about the human heart in contest with itself, a novel about memory and longing and grief and hope and guilt and late-night ironies that raise a chuckle to the lips of the dead. Yes, the people and events in this fine novel are certainly 'tangled up' with war, as the author puts it on page one,but it is the same sort of entanglement that Lord Jim has with the ocean, or the sort of entanglement that Huck Finn has with the river." —Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried
“Thrilling, tragic, and darkly funny, Matt Gallagher's Youngblood is a brilliant portrait of command in the modern, morally bruising battlefield.” —Phil Klay, New York Times bestselling author of Redeployment
"Not only does Youngblood rank among the very best books of our seemingly endless Iraq war, it's one of the best novels I've ever read of war, period. A mystery as taut as that of any thriller lies at the heart of the story, and as the layers peel away and the mystery coils tighter and tighter, grim truths are revealed about love, loyalty, violence, power--about life in a very hard place made so much harder by years of war. Matt Gallagher's fierce, brilliant novel should serve as a slap in the face to a culture that's grown all too comfortable with the notion of endless war."
—Ben Fountain, New York Times bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk