Rebels, by Aris Roussinos

I prefer my war historical. Something that has happened way before I was born and then I can say ‘well, at least the world has moved on from that’. Aris Roussinos’ new book Rebels bursts that bubble as he talks about war from a first hand point of view and most of these wars are still going on as I write this.

Gritty is a great way to describe this autobiographical diary of the author’s time on front lines from around the world… well, the Middle East at least. To be honest, if you are going to find a way to get a book full of stories about war, that’s the place to go.

Which of course begs the question: why? Why put yourself through all that grief and stress to write a book? I just don’t get it. There is enough information out there online to quench anyone’s thirst for war. I guess as a father of four kids, with a nice comfortable job, and no real desire for the kind of excitement war brings I’ll never really get it.

But if I cast my mind back a few years and maybe the younger me may have seen this as bit of blast. Roussinos’ spent his early adult years training as a soldier, he wanted action, and well he got it. He’s still a relatively young man and has produced some very well received pieces of journalism.

Reading through some of the stories, yes it’s cliché to say, but it’s like you were there with him. He doesn’t hold back and his language and style is very in your face and matter of fact.

Roussinos details the life behind the battles of the people he regularly broke bread with. There is plenty of shooting and bodies and death and other gruesome things, but it’s the little details of life that each of these young warriors go through on a day to day basis that is quite fascinating. The humdrum boring aspects of life, all entwined with regular bomb blasts or rifle fire, which gives credit to the cliché and the author’s experience.

Rebels is not a casual read on the couch out on the sun deck on a warm spring morning. This one will make you question the idiocy of war and the exuberance of youth all in one go. Maybe read it in your fallout shelter.

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TITLE: Rebels: My Life Behind Enemy Lines with Warlords, Fanatics and Not-so-Friendly Fire
AUTHOR(S): Aris Roussinos
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House
RRP: $37.99
ISBN: 9780099590798

Drew Thompson Drew operates a successful hobby farm for pampered cattle in rural South Auckland. He once dabbled in education, where he discovered any book was a good book. As with most ex-teachers, he realised he was better off spending his time and patience on his own awesome children.

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