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Book Review: Double Knot is THE cutting edge war memoir

For the first time in years, I recently had the fantastic experience of being so engrossed by a novel that I could not turn away. Throughout the span of an afternoon, I read the paperback version of Double Knot in its entirety (thanks to Keith at Dead Reckoning Collective for the advanced copy.) It captured my attention in a way that no other war memoir has. It demanded my attention without laborious details about movements, battle plans, or the excitement of firefights.


Double Knot, April 19 2024

Mac Caltrider is a Marine veteran of the war in Afghanistan. His depictions of combat are brief yet powerful. But this is not a combat book—it is a war book. Mac and I shared an incredible experience hosted by PB Abbate in the mountains of Montana last summer, where we bonded over literacy and gushed over renowned author Sebastian Junger, the event's guest. One evening, over a particularly emotional fireside chat, Sebastian put a strong sentiment out there to the veterans: “If a book about war doesn’t end by talking about the mothers, it’s not a real war book. It’s just a combat book.”


An evening at the PB Abbate 2023 book club retreat, where Mac and I first met.
An evening at the PB Abbate 2023 book club retreat, where Mac and I first met.

Mac took this to heart as he worked delicately to cut down a ~97K word memoir to ~30K words. Without revealing too much, the last two essays in this book hit like a 40mm HE-DP round square into a Taliban machine gun nest. It explodes into an unbridled exploration of the true casualties of war. It demands the reader pay attention to the often-forgotten Gold Star families, which include mothers, fathers, siblings, and children of those lost in action.


Double Knot is like a well-organized quarry, with veins of wisdom exposed, ready to be mined by those willing. To say this is a layered piece of literature would be an understatement. This memoir covers various topics, each with its sense of how Mac feels but with enough objectivity to leave the reader to come to their conclusion.


Mac and another Marine veteran shooting the breeze at the PB Abbate book club retreat.
Mac and another Marine veteran shooting the breeze at the PB Abbate book club retreat.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has been, is still in, or wants to be in the arena of warfare. Be prepared to have your values challenged. As a 19-year-old kid, I could see myself scoffing at some of the perspectives in this book. As a 37-year-old man, however, I am much more receptive and willing to offer space to complex viewpoints. If you don’t connect with this book at first, don’t worry - you will. If you’re looking for a combat book, this ain’t it. If you’re looking for a war book, this is about as perfect as it gets.


Thanks for reading my Double Knot book review! If you're intrigued by this, you should Buy the book and support a veteran-owned small publishing house!

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Apr 28

I will order. Did u get a chance to read my war poetry book? Check out front and back cover on Amazon. I’m happy to mail you a copy. Title is “Pocket Full of Soldiers. vry, Mary Lou Sinkey.

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