The Junior Officers' Reading Club

Killing Time and Fighting Wars

By Patrick Hennessey
(Riverhead Books, Paperback, 9781594484797, 310pp.)

Publication Date: September 7, 2010

List Price: $16.00*
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Hailed as a classic of war writing in the U.K., "The Junior Officers' Reading Club" is a revelatory first-hand account of a young enlistee's profound coming of age. Attempting to stave off the tedium and pressures of army life in the Iraqi desert by losing themselves in the dusty paperbacks on the transit-camp bookshelves, Hennessey and a handful of his pals from military academy form the Junior Officers' Reading Club. By the time he reaches Afghanistan and the rest of the club are scattered across the Middle East, they are no longer cheerfully overconfident young recruits, hungering for action and glory. Hennessey captures how boys grow into men amid the frenetic, sometimes exhilarating violence, frequent boredom, and almost overwhelming responsibilities that frame a soldier's experience and the way we fight today.
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Saturday, Sep 4, 2010

Patrick Hennessey was the youngest front-line captain in the British Army, served in Iraq and Afghanistan and earned a commendation for gallantry. Host Scott Simon speaks with Hennessey about his memoir, The Junior Officers' Reading Club. More at

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  1. Hennessey frequently mentions experiencing boredom—both before and after he joins the military. Do you think that the men and women who are drawn to soldiering have a higher or lower tolerance for boredom? Do you think this affects their performance on the battlefield?

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