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My Life as a Foreign Country

A Memoir

Brian Turner (Author, Sierra Nevada College)

Overview | Formats

“Stunning . . . a triumph of form and content. . . . History can only be served by this kind of attention.”—New York Times Book Review

In 2003, Sergeant Brian Turner crossed the line of departure with a convoy of soldiers headed into the Iraqi desert. Now he lies awake each night beside his sleeping wife, imagining himself as a drone aircraft, hovering over the terrains of Bosnia and Vietnam, Iraq and Northern Ireland, the killing fields of Cambodia and the death camps of Europe.

In this breathtaking memoir, award-winning poet Brian Turner retraces his war experience—pre-deployment to combat zone, homecoming to aftermath. Free of self-indulgence or self-glorification, his account combines recollection with the imagination's efforts to make reality comprehensible. Across time, he seeks parallels in the histories of others who have gone to war, especially his taciturn grandfather (World War II), father (Cold War), and uncle (Vietnam). Turner also offers something that is truly rare in a memoir of violent conflict—he sees through the eyes of the enemy, imagining his way into the experience of the "other." Through it all, he paints a devastating portrait of what it means to be a soldier and a human being.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • October 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35184-2
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 224 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth and the European Union.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverMy Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir


Endorsements & Reviews

“Turner’s poetic gaze irradiates his world. . . . [His] memoir is beautiful, electrifying and full of pain.” — Roxana Robinson, Washington Post

“Violence . . . mingles by metaphor with dreams, eroticism, history, classical poetry, until the borders between individuals and worlds melt away.” — George Packer, The New Yorker

“Brian Turner has given us not so much a memoir as a meditation, rendered with grace and wit and wisdom. If you want to know what modern soldiers see when they look at their world, read this book.” — Larry Heinemann, author of Paco’s Story, winner of the National Book Award

“Moments of candor and existential longing break open to expose a world of truths…Brian Turner is a born storyteller.” — Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Neon Vernacular, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“The psychological consequences of war are movingly portrayed… [a] standout.” — Publishers Weekly

“One of the most important memoirs to come out of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan… exceptional.” — Caleb Cage, The Rumpus

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  1. Book CoverThe Kiss: Intimacies from Writers


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