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It’s the rule—always watch your fives and twenty-fives.

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About the Book

It’s the rule—always watch your fives and twenty-fives. When a convoy halts to investigate a possible roadside bomb, stay in the vehicle and scan five meters in every direction. A bomb inside five meters cuts through the armor, killing everyone in the truck. Once clear, get out and sweep twenty-five meters. A bomb inside twenty-five meters kills the dismounted scouts investigating the road ahead.

Fives and twenty-fives mark the measure of a marine’s life in the road repair platoon. Dispatched to fill potholes on the highways of Iraq, the platoon works to assure safe passage for citizens and military personnel. Their mission lacks the glory of the infantry, but in a war where every pothole contains a hidden bomb, road repair brings its own danger.

Lieutenant Donavan leads the platoon, painfully aware of his shortcomings and isolated by his rank. Doc Pleasant, the medic, joined for opportunity, but finds his pride undone as he watches friends die. And there’s Kateb, known to the Americans as Dodge, an Iraqi interpreter whose love of American culture—from hip-hop to the dog-eared copy of Huck Finn he carries—is matched only by his disdain for what Americans are doing to his country.

Returning home, they exchange one set of decisions and repercussions for another, struggling to find a place in a world that no longer knows them. A debut both transcendent and rooted in the flesh, Fives and Twenty-Fives is a deeply necessary novel.

Review from Booklist

Pitre’s suspenseful debut, influenced by his combat experience in the Iraq War, follows a Marine Corps road crew searching for hidden bombs on the treacherous highways encircling Baghdad. Three men, now home after a catastrophic incident, relate their memories of the sweltering days that brought them together and tore them apart.

Two Americans, a lieutenant awarded the Bronze Star and a medic discharged other than honorably, struggle to start new lives in Louisiana while coping with feelings of intense shame. And a young, wisecracking Iraqi interpreter, obsessed with American pop culture, seeks asylum in the U.S. as the Arab Spring erupts around him. In Iraq, where every pothole contains an explosive device, tension builds toward a life-changing episode. The heart and soul of the book is the young Iraqi, composing his university thesis on Huckleberry Finn for a professor killed by insurgents and dancing like Mick Jagger to entertain Iraqi motorists who could be friend, foe, or, in his case, . . . family. A thrilling, defining novel of the Iraq War.

--Adam Morgan