Fives and Twenty-Fives

Fives and Twenty-Fives

by Michael Pitre

Overview: It's the rule--always watch your fives and twenty-fives. When a convoy halts to investigate a possible roadside bomb, stay in the vehicle and scan five meters in every direction. A bomb inside five meters cuts through the armor, killing everyone in the truck. Once clear, get out and sweep twenty-five meters. A bomb inside twenty-five meters kills the dismounted scouts investigating the road ahead.

Fives and twenty-fives mark the measure of a marine's life in the road repair platoon. Dispatched to fill potholes on the highways of Iraq, the platoon works to assure safe passage for citizens and military personnel. Their mission lacks the glory of the infantry, but in a war where every pothole contains a hidden bomb, road repair brings its own danger.

Lieutenant Donavan leads the platoon, painfully aware of his shortcomings and isolated by his rank. Doc Pleasant, the medic, joined for opportunity, but finds his pride undone as he watches friends die. And there's Kateb, known to the Americans as Dodge, an Iraqi interpreter whose love of American culture--from hip-hop to the dog-eared copy of Huck Finn he carries--is matched only by his disdain for what Americans are doing to his country.

Returning home, they exchange one set of decisions and repercussions for another, struggling to find a place in a world that no longer knows them. A debut both transcendent and rooted in the flesh, Fives and Twenty-Fives is a deeply necessary novel.

Elaine Marlin (06/14/17): This is a very well written, fast moving story of a group of Marines in the Road Repair Platoon during a very dangerous period of the Iraqi war. The story is told from different Marines' perspectives. Each chapter is a combination of the present, the nearly present, and of course a flashback to life in the war, during their service.

These men and women are highly trained, and strive to do their jobs well. They take their jobs quite seriously, and of course, aim to protect their fellow Marines. During these chapters, it becomes more and more clear the dangers they face on a daily basis on the roads they clear of potholes. Each and every pothole, hundreds of them, contain a bomb, placed by the enemy, which is all around. The Marines work together to safely remove the bombs, then repair potholes to protect their vehicles, during travel from city to city. They are shot at from enemies in hidden buildings and other locations.

Each of the soldiers has a special position. One of the main characters, the "leader", is a lieutenant, Pete Donovan. The other characters are Zahn, Doc Pleasant (a medic), a female Marine, Gomez, and a young college Iraqi, who becomes an interpreter (a "terp") for the Americans: Dodge. His real name is Kateb, and he is a University student studying English, in Bagdad. He has been working on a thesis on Huckleberry Finn. There are many events, which seem to get more serious as the novel progresses. The author shows how difficult it is to readjust to life after service.

This is such a well written book. It is not my typical genre. When I finished, I started at the beginning and reread the first two chapters! I highly recommend this book.
Rating: *****

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