Lines in the Sand

An American Soldier's Personal Journey in Iraq

Non-Fiction - Memoir
442 Pages
Reviewed on 02/29/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Having earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional/Technical Communication and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I have experience with editing, journalism, desktop publishing, videography, and am now a full-time author.

Lines in the Sand evolved from my desire to tell the story of why would a Conscientious Objector deliberately choose to go to war and what are the emotional and moral consequences? What happens when a life that was built is torn down? And how is a new self-identity born from the aftermath?

In this unique novel, marking the ten-year anniversary of my return from the fighting in Iraq, I answer these questions and more. I put you in the front seat of my roller coaster ride of love, betrayal, courage, fear, despair, and hope while recounting my wartime experience within an artfully lyrical epistolary composition. Transcribed from my handwritten journals, Lines in the Sand is a powerful exercise in self-exploration amid heart-wrenching loss and anguish.

My second book, Playing Soldier, has won the 2021 IndieReader Discovery Award for Memoir. It was also a Finalist in the 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards for New Nonfiction and Finalist in the 2021 Book Excellence Awards for Memoir.

I live in New England.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

“What happens when you discover that the only morality that exists is survival?” With this single line from his book Lines in the Sand, F. Scott Service bravely and defiantly offers up an irrefutable indictment of war and its practitioners – cowardly politicians, greedy corporations, and a populace of willfully ignorant constituents - through its utterly gripping and heartrending real time portrayal of one man’s psychological dissolution and defeat in the face of unrelenting threats to his personal survival. Make no mistake. This book is not about the practitioners of war. This book is an intimate account of one man’s descent toward madness in the face of war.

In November of 2003, F. Scott Service receives the call that will forever change his life. An Army National Guardsman, he is called up for active duty in the fight against Iraq. During his indoctrination interview, hidden among all the others, is one simple question: Are you a Conscientious Objector? His failure to answer honestly, along with his commitment to his comrades, is but his first misstep on a long, hard road toward mental dissolution. Shipped off to a godforsaken hellhole of a base – literally a hellish pit of inconceivable heat and desolation – Service and his fellow recruits are subjected to a constant daily barrage of endless mortar attacks, forcing them to endure and face the unremitting likelihood of death at every moment.

When Service left the States ostensibly to serve his country, he left behind a comfortable life: a good job, a solid marriage, and a confidence in his life choices. This book is about the slow deterioration of all those things. Based on daily journals that he wrote - often under deadly fire - one helplessly watches the devastation that war can wreak on humanity. In Lines in the Sand, F. Scott Service remains thoroughly unrelenting in his own self-appraisal and absolute acceptance of responsibility for where he is, admitting with a frankness endemic to his tale: “I know one thing for sure – I don’t belong here. The people who want this war aren’t here. The people who don’t want this war are here.”

Impeccably written, relentlessly engaging, so intimate it hurts, Service’s extraordinary tale is where the reader wants and needs to be.

Maria Beltran

Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier's Personal Journey in Iraq is a former soldier’s personal account about his experiences in the Iraq war. When author F. Scott Service is called for deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he leaves behind his beautiful wife Rita, a newly built house, and his beloved pets. He soon goes on training where he also starts to write a journal. The result is a profound tale of a young man caught in what he believes is an immoral war fought in a foreign land that has tragically changed the lives of thousands of young men in the US. Confronted by the enemy’s mortar shelling every day and struggling to keep his marriage alive, F. Scott Service will come out of this war a completely changed man.

What makes Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier's Personal Journey in Iraq a chilling tale is that it is a true account of what is similarly happening to thousands of American soldiers who are being deployed to Iraq and this is still going on. And these are young men who joined the army out of a sense of duty to their country. Most of them soon realize that there is something morally wrong with this war, but they stay on out of loyalty to their fellow soldiers or because they have no more homes to go back to in the US. Surrounded by senseless violence, these men are forced to face their own demons and, as they do, their lives will never be the same again. Author F. Scott Service takes his readers into the ugly realities of the Iraqi War, his personal relationships, and his intense struggle with himself. Highly recommended!

Chris Fischer

In a great new memoir by author F. Scott Service, Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier's Personal Journey in Iraq, readers will be taken on an absolute roller coaster of a ride through one man's journey as he participates in the Iraq War, an involvement that causes him a great deal of inner turmoil and conflict, while at the same time he is dealing with a great deal of personal issues in his home life. Using the author's personal journals from the time period as source material, the book is written in a completely engrossing style, combining real life action with the inner thoughts of a man deeply troubled by those actions and all that is swirling around him.

I loved Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier's Personal Journey in Iraq. Loved. It. How's that for a review? It's truly how I felt about F. Scott Service's wonderful true life story. The author has done an amazing job in recounting his experiences in Iraq and in life in such a way that will both intrigue his readers as well as break their hearts. This book is one that is incredibly hard to put down, and readers may, in fact, find themselves obsessively reading the story from the start through to the finish, all in one sitting. Any reader that enjoys a great memoir will love Lines in the Sand, but those who enjoy stories about war, inner turmoil and triumph, or simply an excellent read should also give this book a chance. I highly recommend this book and this author, and hope that readers will see more from F. Scott Service in the very near future!

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

F. Scott Service shares his story of love and war in Lines in the Sand. Scott is living the American dream. He is married to a beautiful and successful woman. They are living in the bliss of Montana, where the air is clean and nature nestles you in a blanket of comfort. He has a good job, one that he enjoys. All is well, until on November 23, 2003, his National Guard Unit is called to deploy to Iraq. Saddam’s regime has fallen, but the war continues. American troops are still being called upon to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. F. Scott Service's life turns inside out. He is doubtful, scared and confused about this war. Within his heart, he realizes that he is a conscientious objector. However, for generations his family fought in American wars. How could he turn his back on his fellow soldiers? Regardless, he puts his feelings aside, believing “there was honor in honoring them.” He willingly goes to war. In these pages, Scott chronicles his experiences of Iraq. He shares his thoughts, his daily routine, and his surroundings. Lines in the Sand is a personal journey of the soul of a soldier who desperately searches for hope and beauty in the midst of the ugliness of war.

Lines in the Sand is a combat veteran’s memories of war. F. Scott Service’s memoir is one that will not be easily forgotten. I have read many books on war and its effects on the soldier and his/her family. All have been written sharing the hardships and trauma of war. However, this account’s point of view stands out. After reading the opening quote by Hermann Goering in the Foreword, I knew I was in for something uniquely special. F. Scott Service is a gifted writer. His words are eloquent, with powerful expressions. In his chronicle he records daily events in a very intimate and honest manner. He taps into the sensory and explains in personal detail what he is observing, enduring and feeling. Whether you agree with his views on war and government or not, you cannot help but be captivated by this narrative.

This memoir is an emotional journey; full of action, setbacks, and mistakes, but moreover, the will to survive. The memoir contains an emotional beat, the very cadence of the author’s heart. Service captures his raw emotions, and shares them both delicately and harshly throughout the journal. In his closing remarks, F. Scott Service solidifies his relationship with his readers by asking them to consider where they would draw their own line in the sand. Lines in the Sand portrays the trauma of war, its haunting aftermath, yet inspires survivors to press forward toward hope. It is truly a remarkable story of tragedy to triumph.