Pumpkinflowers

An Israeli Soldier's Story

Publisher: Signal
Shortlisted for the 2016 Hilary Weston Writer's Trust Non-Fiction Prize

Shortlisted for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

Longlisted for the 2017 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

A New York Times Notable Book of 2016

A Globe and Mail Pick for Best Canadian Non-Fiction of 2016


From an award-winning Canadian-Israeli writer comes the true story of a band of young soldiers, the author among them, charged with holding one remote outpost in Lebanon, a task that changed them forever and foreshadowed today's unwinnable conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
It was small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples that continue to emanate worldwide today. The hill was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for "casualties." Friedman's visceral narrative recreates harrowing wartime experiences in a work that is part frontlines memoir, part
journalistic reporting, part military history. The years in question were pivotal ones, and not just for Israel. They saw the perfection of a type of warfare that would eventually be exported to Afghanistan and Iraq. The new twenty-first century war is one in which there is never any clear victor, and not enough lives are lost to rally the public against it. Eventually Israel would come to realize that theirs was a losing proposition and pull out. But, of course, by then these soldiers--those who had survived--and the country had been wounded in ways large and small. Raw, powerful, beautifully rendered, the book will take its place among classic war stories such as those by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, and Vasily Grossman. Pumpkinflowers is an unflinching look, like the works of Jon Krakauer and Sebastian Junger, at the way we conduct war today.

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Nights on the hill were unusually long. They were inhabited by shadows flitting among boulders, by bushes that assumed human form, by viscous mists that crept in and thickened until all the sentries were blind. Sometimes you took over one of the guard posts, checked your watch an hour later, and found that five ...
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PRAISE FOR

"Pumpkinflowers is a stunning achievement . . . Evocative, emotionally wrenching and yet cleareyed and dispassionate, Matti Friedman's haunting war memoir reminds one of Michael Herr's unforgettable Vietnam memoir, Dispatches. It too is destined to become a classic text on the absurdities of war." Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prizewinning biographer and New York Times bestselling author of The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames

"Inspiring, heartbreaking, illuminating. Matti Friedman's brilliant account of a forgotten war seen through the lens of a simple soldier is at once a coming of age story and an essential chronicle about how the 21st century was born." Yossi Klein Halevi, author of Like Dreamers