“Sparta made young boys into
warriors; it was left to the warriors to restore themselves to men…”
Conrad Farrell’s family has no military heritage, but
as a classics major at Williams, he saw the sturdy appeal of the Marine ethic:
Semper fidelis came straight from
the ancient world, from Sparta, where every citizen doubled as a full-time
soldier. When Conrad joined the Marines after college, he expected to further a
long tradition of honor, courage, and commitment.
Now Conrad has just returned
home to Westchester after four years in Iraq, and something is very wrong.
Everything should be fine—he hasn’t been shot or wounded by an IED, and he’s
never had psychological troubles—but as he attempts to reconnect with his
girlfriend and find his footing in the civilian world, he has an impossible
time adjusting to the people and places he used to love and to a commonplace
life of hotel reservations, dinner conversation, long showers, and alone time.
As the weeks turn into months, Conrad’s bitterness only festers, and he begins
to fear that his rage, when it comes out, will have irreparable consequences.
and perceptive, Sparta captures the nuances of the unique estrangement
that modern soldiers face as they attempt to rejoin the society they’ve fought for.
With the powerful insight and acuity that marked Cost and her earlier
novels, Robinson has delivered her best book yet.
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