On the very day he s to leave to cover the war in Iraq, James Stephens, the seasoned war correspondent of New York s second-ranked tabloid, the Daily News, gets hit by a Snapple delivery truck. With the war about to begin, the paper s wily editor decides to send its popular gossip columnist of the same name in his place. Plus Jimmy Stephens, whose new shameless stories have landed the paper a pile of legal action, owes him one. Shipped off to Iraq and embedded with a group of foul-mouthed marines, Jimmy has a baptism by fire into military life and battlefield reporting. His cowardice is perhaps only matched by his clumsiness, but he slowly befriends his Marines and gets up-close and personal with the invasion of Bagdad. Written with the expertise of an eyewitness (Kulish was embedded with a Marine helicopter unit for the Wall Street Journal) and the imagination of a gifted fiction writer, LAST ONE IN is, in the words of one early reader, a rarity: a war story told with wit and sympathy sharply written, fast-paced and instantly engaging.
Kulish, a journalist who was embedded with a Marine attack-helicopter unit for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, draws on that experience for this satirical debut novel. Facing dismissal over an erroneous story of celebrity infidelity, New York Daily Heraldgossip reporter Jimmy Stephens is given a second chance. The country is about to go to war in Iraq, and the paper's veteran war correspondent is laid up after being hit by a delivery truck. To save his job, a reluctant and clueless Jimmy assumes the position. In Kuwait, Stephens joins a Marine infantry company and hitches a ride in a Humvee with four typical Marines: profane and irreverent, but thoroughly professional when necessary. The tough Marines, of course, tease the "sissy-ass civilian reporter," but sharing privation and sporadic combat affect Stephens and his Marine companions in unexpected ways. Though the war has changed dramatically since the initial invasion lending a strangely dated feeling to the narrative a steady flow of Yossarian-flavored absurdity ("We're the pro-Iraqi forces, and the anti-Iraqi forces are the Iraqis") smoothes out the bumps in Stephens's odyssey. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information