In a refugee camp in southern Turkey, Elliot Ackerman sits across the table from Abu Hassar, who fought for Al Qaeda in Iraq and whose connections to the Islamic State are murky. At first, Ackerman pretends to have been a journalist during the Iraq War, but after he establishes a rapport with Abu Hassar, he reveals that in fact he was a Marine. Ackerman then draws the shape of the Euphrates River on a large piece of paper, and his one-time adversary joins him, filling in the map with the names and dates of where they saw fighting during the war. They discover they had shadowed each other for some time, a realisation that brings them to a strange kind of intimacy.
Elliot Ackerman's extraordinary memoir explores how he came to this refugee camp and what he hoped to find there. Moving between his recent experiences on the ground as a journalist in Syria and his Marine deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, he creates a work of astonishing atmospheric pressure.
At once an intensely personal book about the terrible lure of combat and a brilliant meditation on the meaning of the past two decades of strife for America, the region and the world, Places and Names bids to take its place among our greatest books about modern war.