Matt Gallagher (born 1983) is an American author, former U.S. Army captain and veteran of the Iraq War. Gallagher has written on a variety of subjects, mainly contemporary war fiction and non-fiction. He first became known for his war memoir Kaboom (2010), which tells of his and his scout platoon's experiences during the Iraq War. He works as a writing instructor at Words After War, a literary nonprofit devoted to bringing veterans and civilians together to study conflict literature.
In 2015, Gallagher was featured in Vanity Fair alongside Elliot Ackerman, Maurice Decaul, Phil Klay, Kevin Powers and Brandon Willitts, as the voices of a new generation of American war literature. Among other media, he's appeared on CBS News Sunday Morning, PBS NewsHour, BBC News and NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.
Gallagher's debut novel Youngblood was published in February 2016 by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Youngblood has been met with widespread critical acclaim, receiving positive reviews and features in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal and Vogue, and others.
Background and education
Gallagher was born in Reno, Nevada, to attorneys Deborah Scott Gallagher and Dennis Gallagher. He and his brother Luke attended Brookfield School and Bishop Manogue High School, where Matt edited the school newspaper and ran cross country and track. He graduated in 2001.
Gallagher then attended Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He joined Army ROTC the week before 9/11, and decided to honor this commitment after the September 11 attacks. While at Wake Forest, Gallagher was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity and served as the sports editor of the Old Gold & Black. He graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, commissioning into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in the Armor Branch.
Gallagher trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he attended and graduated the Armor Officer Basic Course and Army Reconnaissance Course. He was subsequently assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He deployed with this unit in 2007 as a scout platoon leader with 2-14 Cavalry to Saba al-Bor, a sectarian village northwest of Baghdad. He was promoted to the rank of captain in July 2008, and was then reassigned to 1-27 Infantry, part of the famed 27th Infantry Regiment, where he served as a targeting officer. He and his unit returned to Schofield Barracks in February 2009, and Gallagher left the Army later that year. He earned the Combat Action Badge during his deployment to Iraq.
While deployed to Iraq, Gallagher wrote about his experiences there on a military blog. Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal was a popular blog from November 2007 to June 2008, before it was shut down by the writer's military chain-of-command. Gallagher went by the pseudonym of LT G, wrote about the front-line experiences in the Iraq War as a United States Army soldier. A scout platoon leader, LT G often incorporated the trials and tribulations of his platoon in his writings, offering a brash and brutally honest perspective of modern warfare. Kaboom was shut down, and subsequently deleted, after Gallagher made a post detailing his turning down of a promotion in an effort to stay with his soldiers.
Before Kaboom was shut down, it was one of the few military blogs to garner attention and press coverage from the print media. This can be attributed to LT G's literary writing style. In a nationally published story chronicling the rise and fall of Kaboom, LT G was revealed to be Gallagher, who had been promoted to captain soon after his blog was shut down.
After leaving the Army, Gallagher moved to New York City and wrote his war memoir, Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War, which was published in April 2010 by Da Capo Press. It received much critical acclaim. Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times praised Gallagher for "his love of language, acquired as an avid reader, and his elastic voice as a writer - his ability to move effortlessly between the earnest and the irreverent, the thoughtful and the comic."
In The Wall Street Journal, Bing West wrote that "Understanding that comedy best captures the irony of the human condition, Mr. Gallagher pokes fun at himself, his soldiers and those above him ... Without a trace of sentimentality, Mr. Gallagher draws the reader into the everyday complexities of leading soldiers from every strata of American society ... Mr. Gallagher is too modest, and too ironic, to tout his own accomplishments, so I'll do it for him: He is a classic representative of the U.S. military, a force that imposed its will, both physical and moral, to shatter al Qaeda."
Post-Kaboom, Gallagher has written for a variety of magazines and publications, to include The Atlantic, Boston Review, The New York Times and Wired. He graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in fiction in 2013.
Gallagher and Roy Scranton co-edited Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War (Da Capo, 2013), an anthology of literary fiction by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Fire and Forget featured an introduction by National Book Award Winner Colum McCann, and stories by Colby Buzzell, David Abrams, Phil Klay, Siobhan Fallon, Gavin Kovite, Jacob Siegel, and others. The New York Daily News wrote that "Some of America's greatest works of literature have come from its wars. Be it Stephen Crane, E.L. Doctorow, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon, James Jones or Tim O'Brien, war has been memorialized, glorified, satirized and revealed in all its valor and depredation ... Now, as another comes to a close, a new generation of authors will come forward to define themselves through their own fictional narratives. Among the finest have been enlisted in Fire and Forget."
In September 2014, Atria/Simon & Schuster acquired Gallagher's first novel, Youngblood, from ICM Partners. Published February 2016, Youngblood received early endorsements from authors Richard Ford, Tim O'Brien, Ben Fountain, Claire Vaye Watkins and Phil Klay, among others, as well as starred reviews from trade publications Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. It was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month, selected to The Millions Most Anticipated of 2016, and chosen by iBooks as a "What We're Reading" selectee.
Reviewing for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani wrote of Youngblood, "On one level, the novel is a parable - with overtones of Graham Greene's The Quiet American - about the United States and Iraq and the still unfurling consequences of the war ... Mr. Gallagher has a keen reportorial eye, a distinctive voice and an instinctive sympathy for the people he is writing about ... [This] is an urgent and deeply moving novel." In The Washington Post, Roxana Robinson called the novel ""Layered and complex ... [this is ] smart, fierce and important writing. In Youngblood, Matt Gallagher shows again how war works in the human heart." The Daily Beast described Youngblood as "America's first great work of reckoning."
Essays, reviews and stories
- "Pilgrim's Progress The New York Times, January 2011
- "The Hut Next Door," The New York Times, May 2011
- "Where's the Great Novel About the War on Terror?" The Atlantic, June 2011
- "A Ghost on Tobacco Road," The Classical, February 2012
- "After the Slaughter," Boston Review, March 2012
- "Under a Crescent Moon," Epiphany Magazine, February 2013
- "A Night in the Divide," The Daily Beast, April 2013
- "Transcending the Archetypes of War: an Interview with Phil Klay," The Paris Review, March 2014
- "New York City Cop Cold War," The Daily Beast, December 2014
- Forty Years After the Fall: Vietnam War Lit in 2015, Los Angeles Review of Books, April 2015
- "One Man's Mad Journey to the Big Buck Hunter Championship," Wired, May 2015
- "Back Home Then, Back Home Now," Boston Globe, January 2016
- "Welcome to the Age of the Commando," New York Times, January, 2016
- "Ernie and Me: Educations in Hemingway," The Paris Review, February 2016
- Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War, Da Capo Press, March 2010. ISBN 9780306818806
- Fire & Forget: Short Stories from the Long War [coeditor and contributor], Da Capo Press, February 2013. ISBN 9780306821769
- Youngblood: A Novel, Atria/Simon & Schuster, February 2016. ISBN 978-1501105746
- "Staff -". wordsafterwar.org. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- Lea Carpenter. "Veterans of the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan Have Turned Combat into Literature". Vanity Fair.
- Gallagher, Matt. "Bio - Matt Gallagher". www.mattgallagherauthor.com. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "Youngblood". books.simonandschuster.com. February 2, 2016. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- Gallagher, Matt. "Press - Matt Gallagher". www.mattgallagherauthor.com. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "Army tells soldier to end blog from Iraq". Army Times. August 3, 2008.
- Londoño, Ernesto (July 24, 2008). "Silent Posting". Washington Post.
- "A Soldier's Story". Wall Street Journal.
- "IAVA staff". IAVA. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
- Shachtman, Noah (July 2, 2008). "Bosses Delete Outspoken Army Blog". Wired.
- "Mandatory". Mandatory.
- "Doonesbury-The Sandbox-Military Blog, Milblogs for Military Families".
- Kaboom goes kaboom | Jay Bookman | ajc.com
- Tomlinson, Chris (March 12, 2008). "Five years later: Iraq war goes online". USA Today.
- "An Iraqi Dog's Life". The Washington Post.
- Londoño, Ernesto (July 24, 2008). "Silent Posting". The Washington Post.
- Kakutani, Michiko (December 25, 2014). "Human Costs of the Forever Wars, Enough to Fill a Bookshelf". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- West, Bing. "A Soldier's Story". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- "Where's the Great Novel on the War on Terror?". The Atlantic. June 14, 2011.
- "Straight Shooter". Boston Review.
- Gallagher, Matt (May 3, 2011). "The Hut Next Door". The New York Times.
- "One Man’s Mad Journey to the Big Buck Hunter Championship". WIRED. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- "Matt Gallagher". college.interlochen.org. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- "Fire and Forget". Da Capo. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
- "Veterans explore ‘the Long War’ through short fictions in ‘Fire and Forget’". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- "Curtis Brown". curtisbrown.co.uk. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- "Youngblood". books.simonandschuster.com. 2016-02-02. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- ""War books just aren’t for me." - Omnivoracious - The Amazon Book Review". www.omnivoracious.com. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "The Millions : Most Anticipated: The Great 2016 Book Preview". www.themillions.com. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "iBooks on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- Kakutani, Michiko (2016-01-21). "Review: ‘Youngblood,’ an Urgent Novel About the Iraq War". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- Robinson, Roxana (2016-01-22). "‘Youngblood’ review: A novel about the Iraq War from a soldier who was there". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- Black, Julia (2016-02-20). "The Iraq Novel We’ve Been Waiting For". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- "This Ex-Soldier Writes About War Like You've Never Read Before". Esquire. 2016-02-18. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- Kamine, Mark. "Snapshots From the Front". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- Bengal, Rebecca. "Why Matt Gallagher’s New Novel About the Iraq War Matters Now". Vogue. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- Author website
- Matt Gallagher on CBS Sunday Morning, March 2016
- Vanity Fair, "The Words of War," January 2015
- The New York Times, "Human Costs of the Forever Wars," December 2014
- Matt Gallagher on CBS This Morning, January 2014
- Matt Gallagher on Up with Chris Hayes, December 2011
- Matt Gallagher on CNN Newsroom, December 2011