MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel is an expert on the devastating effects of war on the human psyche. In two bestselling books, as well as in years of observant and clear-eyed reporting, Finkel explores what we ask of the men and women we send to war—and how we fail them when they come home.
During the troop surge of 2007, Finkel spent several months as an embedded reporter with the 2-16 Rangers, an army battalion tasked with securing a particularly dangerous area of Baghdad. In his award-winning 2009 book The Good Soldiers and his 2013 followup, Thank You for Your Service, Finkel recounts the Rangers’ grueling 15-month tour in Iraq, as well as their return to the United States—a transition fraught with nearly as much stress, trauma, and heartbreak as their time in Baghdad.
As tensely readable as Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down but with the elegiac tone of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, The Good Soldiers was praised by The New York Times as “a ferociously reported, darkly humorous and spellbinding book.”
“Finkel’s keen firsthand reportage, its grit and impact only heightened by the literary polish of his prose, gives us one of the best accounts yet of the American experience in Iraq.”
—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
Finkel’s second book, Thank You for Your Service, follows the Rangers he wrote about in The Good Soldiers into their post-deployment lives. This “incredibly moving sequel” (Publisher’s Weekly) is another feat of embedded journalism that delves, with Finkel’s characteristically stark and evocative prose, into the experiences of soldiers returning from war—only to find that the war has followed them home. Writing in Bookforum, Jeff Stein observed, “If Finkel weren’t such a vivid, compelling, heartrending writer, you’d never get through his agonizing weave of battles, from the bomb-strewn highways of Iraq to the psycho clinics of VA hospitals, and many ruined homes in between.” Thank You for Your Service was also the basis for a feature-length film by DreamWorks and Universal Pictures, out in October 2017.
“The stories of the soldiers and their families portrayed in Thank You for Your Service possess a visceral and deeply affecting power…that will haunt readers long after they have finished this book.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Thank You for Your Service was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named a best book of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous other outlets. Both of Finkel’s books have been popular with common read committees around the country.
An internationally recognized journalist, Finkel won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for reporting on US efforts to establish democracy in Yemen. In 2012, he was honored with a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. As a reporter and enterprise editor for The Washington Post, Finkel has reported from Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, and across the United States, and has covered wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Currently, he is working on a third book about the soldiers he covered in The Good Soldiers and Thank You for Your Service.
Finkel speaks on the role of journalism in wartime and the effects of military service on individuals and communities. He has addressed policymakers, veterans, and students at venues across the country, including Duke University; Penn State University; West Point; the Clinton Library; and annual conferences of the National Council on Family Relations and the National Association for Rural Mental Health.