Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Current events have always played a major role in the education of students, and for the current generation, the relationship between the United States and the Middle East dominates the news cycle. The United States has been involved in the Middle East for years--and though the US military withdrew from Iraq in 2011 the conflict between nations remains a significant factor in the current political climate. During the occupation of Iraq from the invasion in March 2003 until December of 2011 countless young men and women were thrust into hostile territories and faced with difficult decisions and heartbreaking losses. Controversy over the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq has become and will continue to be a necessary conversation among American citizens.

With the exploration of non-fiction titles like The Secret History of the Iraq War, Code Name: Johnny Walker, Understanding Iraq and All American, students can delve into the history and controversy of the war while gaining emotional insight from the fictional characters in titles like Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Purple Heart and Carthage

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk has been adopted into many courses and was recently adopted into a required English class of 600 students at the Air Force Academy. Likewise, the demand for All American in courses has risen since its publication, including an adoption as Louisiana Tech's freshman year common read.

Sample Discussion Questions
  • What questions, challenges, and opportunities does William R. Polk predict for the future of the relationship between Iraq and America in Understanding Iraq? How do those predictions from 2005 compare to the current climate between nations?
  • How does the story of the Iraqi interpreter in Code Name: Johnny Walker compare to the story of the American soldiers in All American?
  • In what ways do the young men in All American relate to the fictional war hero Billy Lynn? What do their personal stories add to your understanding of the occupation as a whole?
  • In Carthage, Joyce Carol Oates examines the difficulties that returning war veterans face, asking the question, "Is it ever possible to come home again?" Discuss the answer to this question after reading Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Purple Heart, and All American.
  • Discuss the issues raised in The Secret History of the Iraq War regarding the intelligence community as it compares with the history presented in Understanding Iraq.

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