Foreword Reviews

Chasing Alexander

A Marine’s Journeys across Iraq and Afghanistan

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

Chasing Alexander is a revealing soldier’s memoir about the intrigue and brutality of war.

Christopher Martin’s memoir Chasing Alexander pushes aside vague notions of what it means to be a marine, replacing them with the raw reality of life in service.

Martin felt unfulfilled and unmotivated while working as a dishwasher and failing as a college student. He escaped into biographies of the legendary military general Alexander the Great. Seduced by those stories of bravery and leadership and dreaming of becoming someone like Alexander, he enlisted in the marines in 2007.

The book covers Martin’s battles in boot camp, his fast movements moving up in the ranks, and his deployment to Iraq. There, he never faced a battle, and he doubted his chances of making a mark on history. But when he was later deployed to Afghanistan, the epicenter of the violence in the war, he witnessed casualties rise and conditions worsen.

Martin struggled through mental and physical challenges during his second, seven-month deployment, but he also accomplished his goal of leading on the front lines. The book is suspenseful as it covers the slow changes in Martin’s behavior during his time in action: though he entered boot camp as a non smoker, he ended his service while smoking two packs a day; he begins as a “fat body,” but leaves Afghanistan with a gaunt face and baggy clothes.

Martin shares his story at a clipping pace to pique interest; in the process, though, some pivotal events are rushed through, especially around his early development from a studious child into a slacking college student; information about how his personality changed is absent. Other important events, including hiding his job in the infantry from his parents and the end of his deployment, are also handled in a too-speedy manner. Still, most of the narration is steady, marked by moving descriptions, vibrant language, and a memorable secondary cast, whose accents, ages, and family statuses help to flesh them out.

Iraq and Afghanistan are also developed in striking terms, with detailed descriptions of their landscapes and information about what crops were growing, what the citizens wore, and what the air smelled like. Martin is a deliberate guide through the otherworldly circumstances of the war—after which he felt fulfilled enough to stop chasing Alexander’s legacy.

Chasing Alexander is a revealing soldier’s memoir about the intrigue and brutality of war.

Reviewed by Melissa Lance

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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