Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review: The Chords Of War by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez Jr.

I'm very excited to be a part of this Book Tour for the book The Chords of War by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez Jr.! When you're finished reading about this recently published book, feel free to take a few minutes to look around by accessing the buttons at the top of the page or scrolling down the right side of the page and checking out some of my other book reviews and posts. Enjoy and is "Only~A~Little~While" that we are given to walk around down here on planet find your purpose!


The Chords of War is a suspenseful & eye
opening novel for a mature audience! 
Inspired by Sam Gonzalez's true story, The Chords of War is the tale of punk rock teenager Max Rivera from Florida, who seeks purpose as he tries to understand why his life always teeters between music and mayhem. After he's kicked out of his band on tour, he joins the Army to change his life. It's after 9/11, and he finds himself under fire in Iraq, part of the surge in Baquabah. In order to deal with his teen angst and raging hormones among daily patrols, coordinated battles, and women fighting alongside him, Max creates a new band with soldiers. Will Max and his friends make it?


"The Chords of War brilliantly shows that the chaos, destruction, and terror of war can spawn primal desires, not only to survive, but also to love, to create, and, if you've got a guitar and the chops, to rock the hell out."
Graham Yost, acclaimed writer and television showrunner (Justified, The Americans, The Pacific, Speed)
"The Chords of War is a compelling read that paints those who fought in Iraq as real, honest people, rather than the cliched versions we're often given. It's not your usual war-novel, and that's good--that's why it should be read."
Michael Anthony, U.S. Army, Author of Mass Casualties, and Civilianized: A Young Veteran's Memoir
"The Chords of War breaks clean of Vietnam and World War II war-writing traditions by incisively portraying the war experience of millennial-era men and women agonizingly stalled between adolescence and adulthood."
Professor and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Peter Molin, U.S. Army, Rutgers University
"Music comforts and guides Max as a millennial taking his turn on stage in the forever war. But the overture of his former life does little to prepare Max for the melee of modern war: the forte-piano highs and lows, the crash of life and death stakes. A very compelling coming-of- age story representative of many from Generation Y who have answered the call-to- arms to defend our nation."
Dario DiBattista, Editor of Retire the Colors: Veterans and Civilians on Iraq and Afghanistan


The Chords of War by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez Jr. is a suspenseful and eye opening fiction novel! It is definitely out of my usual genre for a book choice, but I am thrilled that I branched out of my comfort zone. I was not disappointed. 

Right off the top, I must mention, that if The Chords of War were a movie, it most certainly would be given an "R" rating for profane language, violence, and sex. These elements are a disturbing part of the book, but I felt a necessary addition to enhance the authenticity of the characters. With that key piece of information to steel yourself as you begin turning the pages, you most definitely should read this important work. 

I chose to read this book, because I wanted to learn some of what our men and women in the military experienced while serving in the Iraq War. My goal is to have a better understanding of what they have endured, so that I might contribute to a helpful dialogue of encouragement with our veterans. The last thing I ever want to do is sweep their horror under the rug. In loving and in living, there is no room for dismissiveness toward another's pain. Collectively, if we are informed, we can become increasingly relatable to this latest generation of veterans who have returned home to our doorsteps. This is not the time for ignorance or cowardice. As an American, I honor them by getting to know their story.

Christopher Meeks & Samuel Gonzalez Jr
While the book is fiction, it is noted that The Chords of War is inspired by the true story of Samuel Gonzalez Jr. during his deployment in Iraq. The smooth transition from his life before deployment and his life while in active duty in Iraq is phenomenal. Not only is this novel entertaining, suspenseful, intriguing, and fun, but conversely heart wrenching and difficult to comprehend. It has been a very long time since I have actually cried while reading a book, but this one had me in tears during several sections. The connection the reader feels to the characters is firmly constructed.  

As Max Rivera, the main character, narrates his way through the pages, the reader sees the struggles of an independent young man trying to reach for a life of security and intention. His enlisting in the armed services to improve his life station, becomes a step in his process of trying to grasp at his life purpose. One of the catalysts to igniting his voluntary sign up occurred during a viewing of the movie, Platoon. He explains that the film was "...neither 'pro-war' nor 'anti-war'". That description of the theatrical portrayal of the Vietnam War in Platoon is exactly the way I feel The Chords Of War is designed. The book immerses the reader into the war itself, where the events seem to take on a corporeal existence. That's quite a feat in an of itself, but in addition the author is able to take it a layer deeper to a spiritual level. While there are no clear calls to a belief in a divine existence, there are a handful of mentions of God and Jesus Christ. The developing storyline and talented writing naturally leads you to ponder what lies beyond this physical body.

My takeaway from this book is multifaceted. First, I believe it points to the fragility of life. We are, after all, here for "only~little~a~little~while" and then we are not. How you process that information and what you believe happens after the "we are not", is mentioned as a teaser a few times within the novel. Second, the relationships that we are so privileged to experience in this world are what is significant. Albeit indirectly, the book teaches that it is not our bank accounts or our material wealth, but rather the people that we have been blessed to form bonds of friendship and trust with that should consume our attention. 

The Chords Of War expanded my comprehension of the war that the United States and Britain fought in Iraq. It helped to define the conflict in my mind as to why we engaged initially and how our troops found themselves increasingly in the midst of a civil war between Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. The novel clarified how the confusion of the Iraqi people, created by massive amounts of propaganda against the U.S., placed the American & British soldiers in increasingly precarious situations. 

Finally, Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez, Jr's book, The Chords Of War brings a spirit of hope. Yes, it is one man's journey through the battle zone, but he is determined to find that solitary thing that will help himself and others to survive. His answer is is his "oxygen mask". What is your "one thing"?

Thank you to White Whisker Books (Los Angeles) for this review copy of The Chords Of War
by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez Jr. While I was required to read this book in it's entirety, I was not made to give a favorable opinion, but simply an honest assessment of the written work.

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