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10 Klicks South of Whiskey - Book Review

10 Klicks South of Whiskey


Author: Ryan Smithson
Genre: Young Adult - General
Date Published: July 19, 2018
ISBN-10: 1684330785
ISBN-13: 9781684330782

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Book Review of :  10 Klicks South of Whiskey



“I want to see death coming, want to watch it. I want to go the way of the gladiator, the Spartan, the novice bear wrestler. People talk about dying in their sleep like that’s some kind of blessing. How awful to wonder if you’re dead or just dreaming.”

Charles Main was a street magician. He was good at what he did, earning the moniker of “The Street Wizard.” He had become quite a little Youtube star with a growing fanbase. That was until he was caught red-handed lifting a credit card and convicted of a felony.

Charles Main was a pickpocket. Since he was 17-years-old when he appeared before the judge he was given the opportunity to choose between 5-10 years in prison or 8 years of service in the Army. Thus began Charles’ career as a Calvary Scout.

Carrie Borden volunteered to be one of the first group of female Calvary Scouts in the US Army. She was humble and driven. When Charles first met Borden, they were on their way to Basic Training. With no help from Drill Sergeant Shields, both Main and Borden survived Basic and were soon assigned their orders. Was it fate that placed both of them in the 463rd Calvary Squadron or was Main just lucky?

Author Ryan Smithson brings a first-person account of a soldier in war-torn Iraq. 10 Klicks South of Whiskey is a historical fiction novel that follows a close-knit group of soldiers during one of the most intense situations a person could be in – war. 

Smithson, who served in Iraq himself, tells of the many battles fought by soldiers from the perspective of someone who knows what it’s like to walk in those boots. This is a story of the fields of battle and the battles within those who fight for the right to be free.

Through his words, you will feel the adrenaline rush felt during a firefight. You will feel the thrill of returning to the barracks after the discovery of a hidden cache. You will feel how bad it hurts to lose a friend, a fellow soldier during a routine mission. You will feel the triumphs and tragedies of everyday life in a war zone. Smithson makes you feel.

As a former soldier from an earlier war, I was mesmerized by 10 Klicks South of Whiskey. Smithson ground-level accounts of war bring a visceral immediacy to what is going on in our war on terrorism. The book examines the impact that this chaos and slaughter have on the lives of the people, the young U.S. soldiers, prosecuting these endless battles.  The subject matter is captivating and the writing is superb. Smithson is that rare combination of an experienced soldier and novelist who knows how to tell a story.


About Ryan Smithson


Ryan Smithson joined the Army Corps of Engineers following 9/11 and was deployed to Iraq in 2004. Upon returning home, he began writing his memoir, Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI (HarperCollins, 2009), which was nominated as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. It is required reading in high schools and colleges across the country, and was adapted for the stage by the Griffin Theatre in Chicago.





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