The Deserter’s Tales

The Deserter’s Tales

Product ID: 22567

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Author: Joshua Key
Lawrence Hill/
Publisher: Roli Books
Year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 237
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174365095


A vivid account of how the war in Iraq is being waged, through the eyes of an ordinary American soldier. When Joshua Key enlisted in the US Army, he believed in his country and the integrity of his government, and never imagined he would lose that belief. A family man from a conservative background in Guthrie, Oklahoma, Key enlisted in 2002 to learn a trade and provide financial security for his family. He believed he would not be deployed unless World War III broke out. A year later, President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq.

In spring 2003, Key was sent to Ramadi as part of the 43rd Combat Engineer Company of the Second Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The war he found himself participating in was not the campaign against terrorists and evildoers he had expected. Key saw Iraqi civilians beaten, shot, and killed or maimed for little or no provocation. Nearly every other night, he participated in raids on homes he was told were harboring terrorists – never finding evidence of terrorist activity.

After seven months in Iraq, Key was home on leave and knew he could not return. He took his family and went underground in the United States, finally seeking asylum in Canada after fourteen months in hiding.

The Deserter’s Tale details life as part of the occupying force – it is not an expose of terrible atrocity, but an account of an experience where human rights abuses were the norm, the distinction between civilian and combatant was all but nonexistent, and no one was held responsible. It is the story of a family man and patriot, who went into the war believing unquestioningly in his government’s commitment to integrity and justice, and how what he saw in Iraq transformed him into someone who could no longer serve his country.

“What's most engaging about this book is its essential honesty. Key takes pains to recount incidents from his childhood and his military service that lay out his own shortcomings; as if to say, I'm telling you all this about myself so that you'll believe what I say about Iraq. It caused me to reassess my notions of duty. The Deserter's Tale ought to be required reading for soldiers heading overseas, to prepare them for the stresses and dilemmas they are likely to face.”
-The Globe and Mail, Toronto, February 10, 2007.




1. Childhood

2. Recruitment and Training

3. Early Days in Iraq

4. Return to Ramdai

5. The Girl at the Hospital

6. Al-Habbaniyah

7. Al-Qa’im




Author’s Note