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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Bad Infidel by Natividad Ruiz is the author’s memoir as a seasoned member of the U.S. Army, having served in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq. He is about to begin his fifth deployment with the U.S. Army, this time in Afghanistan. At a time when morale is low and politics and bureaucracy in the military are becoming rampant, he joins the Buffaloes of 1-17 Infantry which is fighting and dying in one of the deadliest battlefields in Afghanistan. His decision to separate and leave his last unit has cost him plenty and a strain on his family, knowing he would become the hunted as well as being a hunter. He becomes part of a platoon known as the Black Sheep. He would become known as Shepherd Seven, where he becomes a soldier who thinks out of the box and where his sense of initiative will earn disapproval.
As a memoir, Bad Infidel is designed to be an I-was-there experience written from the first-person point of view. It puts you in a front seat to witness America’s Afghanistan nightmare. While military memoirs often seek to recreate the horrors, Natividad Ruiz equally does, but with a dash of panache and style that puts him in that antihero category, one who would do anything he believes to be right even if he goes against the rules. Ruiz manages to connect to most readers, civilian or military, and this can be largely attributed to his detailed narrative skill so that you can almost taste the dry Afghanistan air. Some of you may question how much of the facts have been romanticized, but the solid reality of experience is still very much present and pokes you between the eyes. Just reading about Ruiz’s experiences will make you realize that the mission to survive during a tour of duty is a daily concern. Every account in Bad Infidel reveals the nature of a soldier’s life—a life that is offered in the interests of national security. It deserves to be read.