“The most bracingly honest, refreshing account of the Afghan war” (Sebastian Junger, New York Times bestselling author) from a Marine Corps Combat Cameraman and director of the acclaimed documentary Combat Obscura.
This is a war story. But it is also a story of a lost generation.
As an artsy eighteen-year-old from New York City, Miles Lagoze arrived in the Marine Corps surrounded by fellow millennials who were enticed by promises of stability, community, and a shot at economic security. Deployed as a Combat Cameraman—an active duty videographer and a photographer—Lagoze produced images of glory and heroism amid his fellow soldiers and the occupied Afghan people. But his government-approved footage hid a grim reality.
Here, Lagoze pulls back the curtain and illustrates the grisly truth of the longest war in American history. He shows us acts of brutality on innocent people performed by young men inured to violence, desensitized by their digital worlds, and uncertain of their mission. We see soldiers and Afghan locals drawn together by the terror of the Taliban. We witness the devastating effects on those caught in the deadly crossfire. And we see a generation of American military cast out into an unfamiliar world, steeped in nihilism, and sent back home with first-hand training in extremism and insurrection.
An unfiltered account of the war in Afghanistan unlike any other, thisis a shocking and vivid look at a country eager to exploit its youth while also ignoring its sacrifices. A new modern classic that deserves to stand alongside Michael Herr’s Dispatches and Evan Wright’s Generation Kill.
Miles Lagoze is the critically acclaimed director of the 2019 documentary Combat Obscura. The footage used in the documentary was obtained when Lagoze enlisted as an eighteen-year-old Combat Camera in the Marines and deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. His writing has been published by The Paris Review and RealClearPolitics. Whistles from the Graveyard is his first book.
Publisher: Atria/One Signal Publishers (November 7, 2023)
"This may be the most bracingly honest, refreshing account of the Afghan war that I've ever read." —Sebastian Junger, New York Times Bestselling author of War and Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
"The Marine Corps is a weird place and when you go to war everything only gets weirder. You see beauty and horror, tragedy and joy, savagery and kindness. In short, it’s a mess; and it takes a camera obscura to capture it all. Miles Lagoze did this in his groundbreaking film and he’s going to do it again in his memoir." —Elliot Ackerman, National Book Award Finalist and author of Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning
“If the military is a microcosm of our country, Miles Lagoze's book is a warning for our society--an indictment of not just our greedy war machine but of the culture that ignores and even supports it. Lagoze turns on a night vision camera in a dark corner and instead of scattering, the roaches flock and perform, reveal their true selves. Shelve it aside Michael Herr's Dispatches and Evan Wright's Generation Kill." —Matt Young, author of Eat the Apple
Praise for Miles Lagoze's Combat Obscura
“An eye-opening dispatch from a conflict mired in confusion.” —The New York Times
“The camera documents reality as it simultaneously creates a version of it – a mix of therapy, confessional, and a mirror held up to young, grime-streaked faces.” —The Washington Post
“A warts-and-all approach at in-the-trenches behavior and misbehavior.” —The Hollywood Reporter
“An unexpurgated ‘making of’ of the Afghan Campaign. This remarkable film comes across as war’s backstage story – it’s about the stuff they leave out of the official coverage.” —Film Comment
“So raw the Corps doesn’t want you to see it. One of the most genuine looks at what the Forever War was like for those who waged it.” —Task & Purpose
“Depicts the war beneath the narratives, capturing the soldier’s experience with an immediacy that explodes political abstraction, placing it in a more humanist context.” —Newsweek
“A filmmaking masterpiece… The film’s true brilliance lies in its situational hysteria, a scene-by-scene unpredictability that serves as a microcosm of a war with no end — and no definitive outcome — in sight.” —Military Times
“Detonates any lingering fantasies of military heroism.” —AV Club