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Review from The Ponte Vedra Recorder
By: Ryan Conklin on April 30, 2010, 8:50 am

Below is the latest review from The Ponte Vedra Recorder:


After the events of September 11, Ryan Conklin, a 17 year-old from historic Gettysburg, Pa., decided to answer the call of duty and enlist in the army.

Only 17, Conklin had to convince his parents to sign the enlistment papers.


"My mom always said that when she signed her name on my enlistment papers, it was ‘the heaviest pen to hold and the hardest signature to write," writes Conklin.


That was before the Iraq invasion. At the time America was only at war in Afghanistan, but by the time Conklin graduated from high school in 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom had already begun.

Conklin spent more than three years as an infantryman in the 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans) part of the 101st Airborne Division and was deployed to Iraq from 2005 to 2006. His company, Angel Company carried the nickname "Angels from Hell."


Out of those experiences, An Angel from Hell, a war memoir by Conklin was born.


Conklin describes the book as one he never intended to write.


After his mother handed him a stack of e-mails he had sent while in Iraq he thought writing them into a book might a good project for later in life. But Conklin soon discovered that writing down his experiences in Iraq was a therapeutic outlet for dealing with the experiences of war.


An Angel from Hell is a gritty memoir of Conklin’s experiences at a turret gunner during the his 2005-2006 deployment in Tikrit.


From what day to day life as an infantryman in Iraq is like, to facing IED’s and suicide bombers — this book paints a picture of the harsh realities of war.

Fans of reality television may recognize Conklin as a member of The Real World Brooklyn cast.


I must admit I was hesitant to read a book from a reality T.V. show contestant. I was afraid that what I would get would be nothing more than a book sloppily thrown together by a ghostwriter. Despite those fears, I read the book — and I’m glad that I did.


This book is as real as it gets. The real Real World.

Reading the book was like sitting with an old friend while they told a story. It was gritty, moving and at times heartbreaking — such is war.


Sure you can watch the news and see a 30 second sound bite of war, but if you want a true picture of day to day life on the front lines — read this book.

If you watched the season of the Real World where Conklin was a cast member, you know that Conklin found out on the show that he was being called back from the Individual Ready Reserve to serve a second tour in Iraq.


I don’t care what your review of reality T.V. is — that’s real, and so is this book.


While this book chronicles Conklin’s first tour in Iraq, he has since returned from his second tour.

My only hope is that a sequel follows this book so that Conklin can give us a glimpse into his latest experiences.


In the meantime, pick up a copy of this book. You won’t regret it.