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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
“What happens when you discover that the only morality that exists is survival?” With this single line from his book Lines in the Sand, F. Scott Service bravely and defiantly offers up an irrefutable indictment of war and its practitioners – cowardly politicians, greedy corporations, and a populace of willfully ignorant constituents - through its utterly gripping and heartrending real time portrayal of one man’s psychological dissolution and defeat in the face of unrelenting threats to his personal survival. Make no mistake. This book is not about the practitioners of war. This book is an intimate account of one man’s descent toward madness in the face of war.
In November of 2003, F. Scott Service receives the call that will forever change his life. An Army National Guardsman, he is called up for active duty in the fight against Iraq. During his indoctrination interview, hidden among all the others, is one simple question: Are you a Conscientious Objector? His failure to answer honestly, along with his commitment to his comrades, is but his first misstep on a long, hard road toward mental dissolution. Shipped off to a godforsaken hellhole of a base – literally a hellish pit of inconceivable heat and desolation – Service and his fellow recruits are subjected to a constant daily barrage of endless mortar attacks, forcing them to endure and face the unremitting likelihood of death at every moment.
When Service left the States ostensibly to serve his country, he left behind a comfortable life: a good job, a solid marriage, and a confidence in his life choices. This book is about the slow deterioration of all those things. Based on daily journals that he wrote - often under deadly fire - one helplessly watches the devastation that war can wreak on humanity. In Lines in the Sand, F. Scott Service remains thoroughly unrelenting in his own self-appraisal and absolute acceptance of responsibility for where he is, admitting with a frankness endemic to his tale: “I know one thing for sure – I don’t belong here. The people who want this war aren’t here. The people who don’t want this war are here.”
Impeccably written, relentlessly engaging, so intimate it hurts, Service’s extraordinary tale is where the reader wants and needs to be.