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Spring 2010 Nonfiction Reading Series welcomes 'Beyond Duty' authors

February 02, 2010

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The Writing Program in The College of Arts and Sciences has announced that its spring featured speakers in the Nonfiction Reading Series will be Shannon Meehan and Roger Thompson, authors of “Beyond Duty: Life on the Front Line in Iraq” (Polity, 2009). They will give a reading and lead a discussion on their book on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 3-4:15 p.m. in Room 500 of the Hall of Languages. A book signing will follow.

“Beyond Duty: Life on the Front Line in Iraq” is Meehan’s memoir of being a tank platoon leader in the First Battalion, Twelfth Regiment of the First Cavalry Division.

In summer 2007, Meehan, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, ordered a strike that would take the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians. He thought he was doing the right thing. He thought he was protecting his men. He thought that he would only kill the enemy, but in the ruins of the strike he discovers his mistake and uncovers a tragedy.

For most of his deployment in Iraq, Meehan felt that he had been made for a life in the military. A tank commander, he worked in the violent Diyala Province, successfully fighting the insurgency by various Sunni and Shia factions. He was celebrated by his senior officers and decorated with medals. But when the U.S. surge to retake Iraq in 2006 and 2007 finally pushed into Baqubah, a town virtually entirely controlled by al Qaida, Meehan would make the decision that would change his life.

Recounting Meehan’s deployment to the Diyala Province and his difficult return to the United States, this work reveals his transformation from a young man with clear ideals and ambitions to a worn soldier attempting to cope with the devastating effects of the war on his life. The memoir is co-authored with Thompson, Meehan’s former professor at Virginia Military Institute.

More information on the book can be found at

A Syracuse area intergenerational writing group for veterans will be announced at this event. Those who are interested in taking part in this group should contact Eileen E. Schell, director of the Syracuse University Writing Program, at

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