The Good Lieutenant

3.27 based on 119 ratings & 26 reviews on

Publication date: 19.10.2017
ISBN: 9781509837465
Number of pages: 288


Whitney Terrell's remarkable novel of the Iraq War, The Good Lieutenant, literally starts with a bang, as an operation led by Lieutenant Emma Fowler goes spectacularly wrong. Men are dead - one, a young Iraqi, by her hand. Others of the casualties were soldiers in her platoon. And the signals officer, Dixon Pulowski. Pulowski is another story entirely - Fowler and Pulowski have been lovers since they first met at Fort Riley in Kansas . . .

From this conflagration, The Good Lieutenant unspools backward in time as Fowler and her platoon are guided into disaster by suspect informants and questionable intelligence, their very mission the consequence of a previous snafu in which an American soldier had been kidnapped by insurgents. We hear the voice of Lieutenant Fowler but also those of jaded career soldiers and Iraqis both innocent and not so innocent. Ultimately, as all these stories unravel, Terrell reveals what can happen when good intentions destroy, experience distorts, and survival becomes everything.

In the media

If only people read more novels like this one, told backward from a young woman’s experience in Iraq back to her innocence in the American Midwest, we might think twice about sending soldiers to war.
Boston Globe
An addicting epic about disaster and, more important, what leads to disaster
Washington Post
The Good Lieutenant’s impersonation of an onion being unpeeled works to powerful effect . . . For Terrell’s characters, war has determined that life itself is essentially unreliable. That he has turned this into fiction at once compelling and sensitive, dramatic and intelligent, is impressive indeed.
The National