Sparta

Sparta Going from peace to war can make a young man into a warrior Going from war to peace can destroy him Conrad Farrell has no family military heritage but as a classics major at Williams College he has

  • Title: Sparta
  • Author: Roxana Robinson
  • ISBN: 9780374709570
  • Page: 334
  • Format: ebook
  • Going from peace to war can make a young man into a warrior Going from war to peace can destroy him.Conrad Farrell has no family military heritage, but as a classics major at Williams College, he has encountered the powerful appeal of the Marine Corps ethic Semper Fidelis comes straight from the ancient world, from Sparta, where every citizen doubled as a full time solGoing from peace to war can make a young man into a warrior Going from war to peace can destroy him.Conrad Farrell has no family military heritage, but as a classics major at Williams College, he has encountered the powerful appeal of the Marine Corps ethic Semper Fidelis comes straight from the ancient world, from Sparta, where every citizen doubled as a full time soldier When Conrad graduates, he joins the Marines to continue a long tradition of honor, courage, and commitment.As Roxana Robinson s new novel, Sparta, begins, Conrad has just returned home to Katonah, New York, after four years in Iraq, and he s beginning to learn that something has changed in his landscape Something has gone wrong, though things should be fine he hasn t been shot or wounded he s never had psychological troubles he shouldn t have PTSD But as he attempts to reconnect with his family and his girlfriend and to find his footing in the civilian world, he learns how hard it is to return to the people and places he used to love His life becomes increasingly difficult to negotiate he can t imagine his future, can t recover his past, and can t bring himself to occupy his present As weeks turn into months, Conrad feels himself trapped in a life that s constrictive and incomprehensible, and he fears that his growing rage will have irreparable consequences.Suspenseful, compassionate, and perceptive, Sparta captures the nuances of the unique estrangement that modern soldiers face as they attempt to rejoin the society they ve fought for Billy Collins writes that Roxana Robinson is a master at the work of excavating the truths about ourselves The Washington Post s Jonathan Yardley calls her one of our best writers In Sparta, with the powerful insight and acuity that marked her earlier books Cost, Sweetwater, and A Perfect Stranger, among others , Robinson explores the life of a veteran and delivers her best book yet A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of 2013

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    1 thought on “Sparta”

    1. Inspired by the romanticized accounts of war in the ancient world, classics major Conrad Farrell joins the Marines in an attempt to enter into the venerable brotherhood of honor, sacrifice, and courage forged in the heat of combat. Explaining his decision to enlist, Conrad naively tells his parents, "The classical writers love war, that's their main subject. Being a soldier was the whole deal, the central experience . . . It seems like it's the great thing. The great challenge" (22). And so Conr [...]

    2. I couldn't help but wonder if Roxana Robinson named her protagonist Conrad Farrell after Conrad Jarrett, from Judith Guest's Ordinary People: two sensitive, smart, accomplished young men brought down by emotional trauma, wracked by guilt and anger; two quiet, thoughtful novels that take us to characters' edges of sanity, while families look on, wringing their hands. Yet while Guest's narrative played out intimately, contained within a private family disaster, Robinson's stage is much larger, set [...]

    3. I know it is unfair to become angry with sloppy writers just because there are books like this. Books that the author spent an enormous amount of time and energy to get just right. How is it possible for a woman to enter into a man's mind and body and understand? Perhaps it takes a woman to be able to understand the mystery. This book had me in tears by page 39, and it ended with tears. Tears of pain and tears of hope for the main character. Tears of anger and grief at what we ask of our young p [...]

    4. This novel could just as easily be classified as non-fiction. In fact, the acknowledgements that Robinson gives to her sources at the end of her book indicate that it is a work of fact more than imagination. You might well think that only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The story centers on some difficult years in the life of Conrad Farrell, an American Marine and a former classics major - which is both where the book's title, 'Sparta', finds its origins and Farrell finds hi [...]

    5. I felt quite good beginning Sparta. My record with disaffected, disengaged Iraq war veterans was good - having read both Billy Lynn and The Yellow Birds and adored them both. It didn't end with Sparta, not per se. But it did come close. First, the positives. It's well written, well researched. So I gather. I loved Conrad's trouble with the PTSD that overwhelms him, but something he can do nothing about. I liked his random, repeated flashbacks to Ramadi and Haditha. Most of the novel takes place [...]

    6. I picked up this book right after having read "The Good Soldiers" by David Finkel. Both books are about the Iraq war, a war that happened for me on the television and in newspapers. No one personally known to me was involved in the war, so I was able to live my life pretty much without having to worry about what was going on there, beyond the occasional news conference given by President Bush. To be honest, I could barely stand to listen to him, and was against U.S. involvement in Iraq from the [...]

    7. "You don’t get it. I’d love to do this – what you say. Change. I can’t. Something’s not working. All you do is tear me apart. I’d like to be back here with you all, but I’m not. You don’t get it. I’m not here. I’m not home. I’m still there."Conrad has returned from a second deployment to Iraq and left the Marines. He is now at home in Katonah, New York, and adjusting to civilian life in the US is not, at this point, possible for him. He suffers from Posttraumatic Stress Dis [...]

    8. Roxana Robinson writes powerful novels. I remember loving This Is My Daughter, and also thought Cost was quite good. But she hit this one out of the park. This is a very good, seemingly realistic, nuanced portrayal of Conrad Farrell's painful return from his four years as a Marine in Iraq. His scholarly family were stunned when he announced to them that he was going to join the Marines all those years ago. He was a Classics major in college, and was enthralled with the idea of Sparta from the an [...]

    9. Interesting ideas at play here though the book meanders in frustrating ways. At times, it reads more like a textbook than a novel. Robinson does a remarkable job of conveying the impossibility of PTSD, creating this dark sense of claustrophobia throughout the novel as Conrad tries to reenter his life after four years in the marines. I would have liked to see the characters, including Conrad, a bit more fully developed but this was a book well worth reading.

    10. On so many levels, sadly, this book simply doesn't work. It is so riddled with wartime cliches that it's laughably predictable. On page 9, the author makes passing mention of "Olivera's whispering," "the pattern on the wall," etc, and I wrote in the margin: "Olivera is a dead Marine and the pattern on the wall is blood." When Ollie comes home initially and the hypervigilant Conrad doesn't hear him arriving (??), I braced myself for the inevitable flashback/cover of the PTSD victim--and I was not [...]

    11. Vogue Magazine hailed Roxana Robinson’s Sparta as an “assiduously researched tale of war and disillusionment.” This is, more or less, an undeniable fact, an indubitable truth. Every page of the novel pulsates with history, whether it be ancient history or current affairs. There are long passages of text in the novel devoted to setting the historical stage, with stories and history lessons that would not feel out of place in a work of nonfiction. Indeed, these elements would not feel out of [...]

    12. I wanted to read Roxana Robinson's book, "Sparta" because I recently saw her speak at the National Book Festival in DC in September. She was a quiet, unassuming person and very thoughtful in her research of this topic. But, perhaps my greatest motivator was the audience. Every veteran who stepped up to the microphone during her Q&A session gave her such sincere thanks for writing this book that I was moved by the whole experience of watching them. My father is a veteran and I knew I had to r [...]

    13. Takes one deep into the mind and experience of Conrad Farrell, a young man who returns in 2005 from a four-year tour of combat duty in Iraq to suffer increasingly from emotional and psychological disturbance. Robinson casts Conrad against stereotype--he is the graduate of an elite Eastern liberal arts college and the child of politically left-wing parents. They can't fathom his choice to join the Marines, and his precarious state after his return leaves them--and his on-again, off-again girlfrie [...]

    14. I was hesitant to dive into this subject matter, but once I did -- by page 2 -- I was hooked on the main character, Conrad Farrell, and on Roxana Robinson's powerful protrayal of his inner state. Rarely do I find a piece of fiction about an important subject particularly compelling, but Robinson has managed to make this character attractive and sympathetic and to explore the terrible situation he finds himself in, including all of its public implications. In some ways, I think she's done what St [...]

    15. This is the third book I have read recently written from the perspective of a returning veteran. In this one, Conrad is a college grad who enlisted to serve, and returns from Iraq after four years. Robinson creates a fully developed character about whom I began to care deeply, as I came to care for his family and friends. She credits the realism of this vet's emotional damage to her many interviews with veterans as well as several written accounts of soldiers as they attempt to fit back into the [...]

    16. Everyone, everyone, absolutely everyone needs to read this book. It doesn't matter what you think of war, the Iraq War, Afghanistan, World War II, WMD. This is a profoundly moving and important book about what it means to come home from war. To live in two worlds--the world of war and the world of back home--and neither. To be let down by the government and system that turned you into a killer in the first place. To suffer as a soldier, a human being, a brother and son and lover.I'll be thinking [...]

    17. This book's protagonist ensures you'll never approach war or veterans' experiences impersonally or unemotionally ever again. Well-researched in its coverage of the Iraq War and military protocol, it's an education for civilians on multiple levels. Most earnestly, Robinson portrays the conflicts of rejoining life after war, mercilessly depicting the deplorable conditions our veterans face when seeking treatment after their service. There's no idealized view of war or patriotism here.

    18. I gave this four stars because it is very well written and tells an important story. That said, this is a very painful book to read. Robinson does a good job of researching and making the protagonists experience real. I continued reading it because I felt it was my duty as a citizen of this country to understand the toll of the Iraq War on our veterans. Both the suffering and the inadequate services provided to the veterans is something every American should understand.

    19. This book did do a good job of taking you into the heart of PTSD I think. That being said, it brought up a lot of my anxiety issues while reading it which made it a bit difficult to read. There was also way too much profanity which was distracting to me. It made me want to do anything I can to help our soldiers who suffer from PTSD though.

    20. I can't find the words to describe this book. It shed so much light on so many things. Hoping to discuss it with my husband who was in Iraq four times. Heart-wrenching. I just wonder how many people are silently suffering like the main character, and I fear it is many.

    21. Pretty intense book- as much non-fiction as fiction. Really enjoyed it and found it hard to put down and to not think about.

    22. Remarkable in its painful honesty. It would be difficult to find any reason to support our war in Iraq after reading this book

    23. Conrad's pain was terrible and palpable; it gave me a stomach ache. As far as a book's effectiveness, this is all good, right? The ending was a cop out though.

    24. This book just broke my heart. I felt anxious reading it was just so redundant - which I assume the author did to help you really understand what it could be like coming home from Iraq. I found it to be very powerful, and I thought about it a lot while reading it and after. I was able to connect to him and his family. I think the author (a woman!) did an amazing job with her research, and the writing made me understand what this experience could be like.In bookclub, many people had a problem wit [...]

    25. This was a hard one to get through. I know first hand what a soldier looks like when he returns from "over there" and I was expecting the feels. It felt a bit familiar but also so foreign. And God bless us if the VA is as bad as it was portrayed in this novel. I have believed for years that the men and women returning should automatically be welcomed into group therapy sessions, if not individual ones based on need. Sort of like a debriefment, or a mandatory recall after a few weeks back. All of [...]

    26. This is a story about a young Marine, Conrad, who has been honorably discharged from the Marines after serving two tours in Iraq and comes back to his life back in the USA. The author is able to write in such a way that puts you right into the middle of his PTSD. This is a painful but very important book to read. Even if you don't know someone personally who served in active duty in the military, you need to be aware as an American, what these service men and women sacrifice for us. It gives us [...]

    27. I wanted to like this, but didn't. It was hard for me to connect with the protagonist. His ideas of "duty" and "honor" struck me as just so much brainwashing. The reintegration of soldiers into society is an important topic, but this book just didn't make me care about the guy.It did make me wonder how we can make people into killing machines and then expect them to be able to live comfortably in normal civilized society again - but I didn't care about the character.

    28. This is a fictional story but it is heartbreaking. It is all too true it is for so many veterans in our world today. It's so descriptive and made me have a little bit better understanding of what is going on in the mind of some of the veterans I work with.

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