Operation Homecoming (book)

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Troops from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces participated in Operation Homecoming.

Operation Homecoming was a United States National Endowment for the ArtsDepartment of Defense therapeutic writing program for returning war veterans. It resulted in a book and television documentary.[1]

Program beginnings[edit]

In 2004, bestselling authors traveled to U.S. military bases all over the world, looking for literary talent on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts. These authors, including Tom Clancy and Brad Pitt, held 50 on-base workshops for American troops and their families, inspiring them to write about their experiences since 9/11. The troops and their families responded with more than 10,000 pages of submissions.[2]


Select short stories, essays, journal entries, poems, e-mails and photographs were collected into an anthology called Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, published by Random House.

The NEA initiative, funded by The Boeing Company, is the first book of its kind, giving a rare voice to U.S. troops and their families - unfiltered and firsthand accounts of what it's like to serve during wartime.

Through Operation Homecoming, these writers take us on convoys and patrols; to hospitals, flight decks, tarmacs and tents; into their homes as they wait for their loved ones to return. With personal details and honest language, they show us the fear and rushing of heading into combat, the humor and boredom of daily life on the front lines, their relationships with Iraqis and Afghans, happy reunions at home, and mourning those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A panel of celebrated authors, guided by historian Andrew Carroll, chose the 89 contributors who were published in Operation Homecoming. No one's story was excluded based on point of view; the book is largely apolitical and delivers an insider's look at what it means to be at war.

Before becoming editor of Operation Homecoming, Carroll had edited several bestselling and critically acclaimed books, and founded The Legacy Project. Random House launched Operation Homecoming on September 12, 2006 at the Library of Congress. Proceeds from the anthology will bring arts and cultural programming to U.S. military communities.

Television documentary[edit]

A documentary based on the book, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, aired on PBS on April 16, 2007 as part of the PBS series America at a Crossroads. The documentary was nominated by the International Documentary Association for best feature.[3]

On November 19, 2007, the film was named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of 15 films on its documentary feature Oscar shortlist.[4] On January 22, 2008, Operation Homecoming was named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of five films nominated for a prize in the "Best Documentary Feature" category.[5]

Media coverage[edit]

  • Excerpts of Operation Homecoming were featured in the June 12, 2006 issue of The New Yorker.
  • Operation Homecoming also got a positive review in the September 10, 2006 edition of The Washington Post, noting that "after so much journalism, history, punditry and blogviating, much of what these unknown amateur scribes -- troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and members of their families -- have to say about the personal experience of war is fresh and intimate..."[6]
  • ABC News featured the book in an October 8, 2006 broadcast called “The Pain of War in Black and White.”


  1. ^ National Initiatives: Operation Homecoming, NEA
  2. ^ The National Endowment for the Arts, press release dated June 5, 2006.
  3. ^ International Documentary Association
  4. ^ "Shortlist for docu Oscar unveiled". The Hollywood Reporter. 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
  5. ^ "80th Annual Academy Awards Nominees". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 2008-01-22. Archived from the original on 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  6. ^ "Operation Homecoming: Tales from War & Home," by David Montgomery, The Washington Post, September 10, 2006.

External links[edit]