Benjamin Busch  September 17, 6:30PM

Dust to Dust by Benjamin Busch
Dust to Dust by Benjamin Busch

Tim O’Brien meets Annie Dillard in this remarkable memoir by debut author Benjamin Busch. Much more than a war memoir, Dust to Dust brilliantly explores the passage through a lifetime—a moving meditation on life and death, the adventures of childhood and revelations of adulthood. Seemingly ordinary things take on a breathtaking radiance when examined by this decorated Marine officer—veteran of two combat tours in Iraq—actor on the hit HBO series The Wire, and son of acclaimed novelist Frederick Busch. Above all, Benjamin Busch is a truly extraordinary new literary talent as evidenced by his exemplary debut, Dust to Dust—an original, emotionally powerful, and surprisingly refreshing take on an American soldier’s story.




Listen to Benjamin Busch at Waukegan ArtWise 2015:

Read New York Times Book Review of Dust to Dust

Dust to Dust is not a contemporary war memoir… It partakes of the pastoral strain associated with World War I trench poets like Edmund Blunden and Edward Thomas”
The New York Times

Read Washington Post Book Review of Dust to Dust

“Extraordinary… It is impossible to read any part of this work and not be moved…[Dust to Dust] is one to be savored. Don’t fail to read it.”
New York Journal of Books


Michael Pitre  October 8, 6:30PM

Michael Pitre

"Fives and Twenty-Fives" by Michael Pitre
“Fives and Twenty-Fives” by Michael Pitre

It’s the rule―always watch your fives and twenty-fives. When a convoy halts to investigate a possible roadside bomb, stay in the vehicle and scan five meters in every direction. A bomb inside five meters cuts through the armor, killing everyone in the truck. Once clear, get out and sweep 25 meters. A bomb inside 25 meters kills the dismounted scouts investigating the road ahead.

Fives and Twenty-Fives marks the measure of a marine’s life in the road-repair platoon. Dispatched to fill potholes on the highways of Iraq, the platoon works to assure safe passage for citizens and military personnel. Their mission lacks the glory of the infantry, but in a war where every pothole contains a hidden bomb, road repair brings its own danger.

Lieutenant Donavan leads the platoon, painfully aware of his shortcomings and isolated by his rank. Doc Pleasant, the medic, joined for opportunity, but finds his pride undone as he watches friends die. And there’s Kateb, known to the Americans as Dodge, an Iraqi interpreter whose love of American culture―from hip-hop to the dog-eared copy of Huck Finn he carries―is matched only by his disdain for what Americans are doing to his country. Returning home, they exchange one set of decisions and repercussions for another, struggling to find a place in a world that no longer knows them.

A debut both transcendent and rooted in the flesh, Fives and Twenty-Fives is a deeply necessary novel.

Listen to Michael Pitre at Waukegan ArtWise 2015:


Kirsten Holmstedt  November 5, 6:30 PM

Kirsten Holmstedt

"Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq" by Kirsten Holmstedt
“Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq” by Kirsten Holmstedt

In Iraq, the front lines are everywhere… and everywhere in Iraq, no matter what their job descriptions say, women in the U.S. military are fighting–more than 155,000 of them. A critical and commercial success in hardcover, Band of Sisters presents a dozen groundbreaking and often heart-wrenching stories of American women in combat in Iraq, such as the U.S.s first female pilot to be shot down and survive, the militarys first black female pilot in combat, a young turret gunner defending convoys, and a nurse struggling to save lives, including her own.

Winner of the 2007 American Authors Association Golden Quill Award
Winner of the 2007 Military Writers Society of America Founder’s Award

Listen to Kirsten Holmstedt’s interview on HQR News