One purpose of Places and Names, Ackerman’s collection of jumbled reminiscences, anecdotes and analyses, is to try to generate some interest in these faraway conflicts, of which most Americans are content to know little...Ackerman’s approach is discursive and elliptical, sometimes so much so that you wonder what point he is trying to make. The format is episodic and the action jumps all over the place... Overall, however, his approach works. Some soldiers (and war reporters), when describing their experiences, employ a specious modesty that is really designed to let you know how brave they are. While Ackerman is not shy about telling his stories – one of the best bits of the book comes at the end, when he reproduces an official report on his leadership during a hellish action in Fallujah for which he won a medal, interspersed with his reflections – there is an underlying modesty. His descriptions of battle itself are all the more effective for their matter-of-factness. Nor does he claim to have been overly affected psychologically by his experiences. The stiff upper lip makes a refreshing change from current literary fashion.