Monday, May 14, 2007

Former American Soldier Wins Prize for Book Based on Blog

May 14 09:51 AM US/Eastern
An American soldier's graphic account of his deployment in Iraq, detailing the firefights and frustrations of frontline life, has won a prize for books based on blogs, organisers said Monday.

Colby Buzzell's "My War: Killing Time In Iraq", the winner of this year's Lulu Blooker Prize, grew out of an online journal which he started in 2004 while serving as a machine-gunner based in Mosul, northern Iraq.

The blog ran for just eight weeks before being shut down by the US military, but by then it had been widely picked up by the media and publishers offered Buzzell a book deal when he left the army in 2005.

His uncompromising style, peppered with profanities and misspellings and inspired by authors such as Hunter S. Thompson and Kurt Vonnegut, gives readers glimpses of military life that rarely emerge from official sources.

One entry, entitled "Men In Black", related a street battle as US soldiers were hunting down those responsible for firing mortars at their base.

Buzzell, 31, described being ambushed by a man "dressed in all black, with a terrorist beard" shooting an AK47 machine gun at him.

"I heard and felt the bullets whizz literally inches from my head, hitting all around my hatch and making a ping, ping, ping sound," he wrote.

Just afterwards, "all hell came down around us" as "everywhere started unloading on us," he added.
"I kind of lost it and was yelling and screaming all sorts of things, mostly cuss words. I fired and fired and fired and fired at everything," he wrote.

After the battle, Buzzell confided his fears of having inadvertently shot innocent people to a senior, who told him to "put all the things that bother you and keep you awake at night and clog your head up into a shoebox, put the lid on it and deal with it later."

"I pretty much started blogging just out of boredom," Buzzell told AFP.

"I was bored in between missions but over time I realised it was therapeutic, it helped me to live out a lot of feelings."

He added that the US military was getting tougher with bloggers as levels of discontent with the Iraq war were increasing.

"A lot of soldiers over there don't want to be there, they want to get home, so if you have soldiers saying it's not going well, they will get a sense of that and I think the military is kind of scared," he said.

His book, which has been translated into seven languages, beat 109 other entries from 15 countries to win the 10,000 dollar (7,383 euro) prize.

Other frontrunners included "My Secret: A PostSecret Book" by Frank Warren, which features a collection of postcards on which people confess their most closely-guarded thoughts.
Here is a link to Buzzell's 'Men in Black' video. It is an outstanding, very well done video and worth seeing:

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