Thanks to my old buddy Tom Angotti for sending his first book of fiction; you may know his earlier works on urban studies or Latin American social struggles.
Accidental Warriors and Battlefield Myths (Berkeley CA: Regent Press, 2011) contains ten stories, most told from the points of view of unwilling or uncomprehending combattants in wars ranging from the Nicaraguan contras to Americans and Russians in Afghanistan to the U.S. invasion of Panama to Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories to the aftermath of Vietnam. Angotti is mostly interested in exploring the illusions and the subsequent deep disappointments — including terrible injuries, post-traumatic stress, or other losses — resulting from actual combat experience. In only one of these stories, about a Cuban woman returned from serving in the Cuban intervention in Angola, does the warrior seem to have any understanding of what she was fighting for, and hers is the only story that ends more or less happily, back in Havana, when she is able to use the strength she learned in the army to correct her own personal situation ("When Adria Went to Angola").
In the final, very brief story, Angotti conjures up the fantastic Land of Accidental Warriors, where men and women like the ones he has described in the other tales find refuge, peace and harmony. This short book (96 pages, with illustrations by Sofia Vigas) should be welcome reading to all those active in peace advocacy.