The Sandbox: dispatches from troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Sandbox: dispatches from troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Unlike the fictional, though realistic, action portrayed in The Kingdom, these essays are all true accounts written by United States military personnel or their families.  In the summer of 2006, Garry Trudeau, author of the Doonesbury comic strip, suggested to editor David Stanford that a military blog be added to their web site and The Sandbox was born.  Although several thousand milblogs already existed on the web, Stanford agreed that this blog could serve as a link “to people without a direct personal connection to anyone deployed” and as “a forum in which [service members could] write about their experiences” without having to maintain a site of their own.  In this first collection of posts on the blog and from other milblogs, readers hear from soldiers overseas, spouses at home, returned vets, and caregivers.  The writers bring together many themes: the boredom of inactivity, the mental strain on any trip outside the secured bases, the children of Iraq and Afghanistan, the comradery with their fellow soldiers and the friendships made with their translators.  Readers will also learn about the differences in the two countries and the challenges faced by the troops in each location.  I wish that there were more female voices presented, but that is only a minor quibble.  The posts are thoughtful, sometimes humorous, occasionally emotional, but always informative and capture the lives of the military in a way that the media and Hollywood never can.  I’ve added The Sandbox to my blog aggregator and look forward to continued entries in the future.

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