Chasing Alexander: A Marine’s Journey Across Iraq and Afghanistan by Christopher Martin

To be published 28/9/2021

What would Alexander do? I asked myself.’

Failing at college and lacking any other clear direction, Chris Martin’s obsession with Alexander the Great led him to join the US Marines. Chris had to work hard at boot camp but thinking about Alexander helped keep him focussed. While his family supported him, they didn’t understand his desire to join the Marines. After a deployment to Iraq, Chris and his unit were deployed to Marjah ‘the bleeding ulcer’ of Afghanistan.

‘It finally sunk in. This is it. I’m in a war.’

It is this part of Chris’s memoir which captured and held my attention. His account of fighting in Afghanistan: the logistical problems of obtaining sufficient fuel and ammunition, the shortcomings of the military hierarchy, the difficulty in fighting the Taliban. As well, Chris describes the heat, the fleas, the difficulty in telling friend from foe amongst the Afghanis. And then there is the camaraderie of brothers in arms, the tragic loss of life and devastating injuries.

Chris Martin’s account of his journey across Iraq and Afghanistan is worth reading. This is not an official history: it is one man’s account of his experiences. It is bittersweet reading this after the recent disastrous withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. All those brave soldiers who fought in a war which sadly seems to have achieved nothing.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Notional Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith