Pumpkin Flowers

“It was one hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the 1990s, but it would send out ripples still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for ‘casualties.’ Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing experience of a band of young Israeli soldiers–the author among them–charged with holding this remote outpost, a task that changed them forever and foreshadowed the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

“Part memoir, part reportage, part military history, this powerful narrative captures the birth of today’s chaotic Middle East and the rise of a twenty-first-century type of war. Raw and beautifully rendered, Pumpkinflowers will take its place among classic narratives by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, and Vasily Grossman. It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today.”

Publication date: May 3, 2016.


“Destined to become a classic text on the absurdities of war… A beautifully written account of a young Israeli soldier’s experience. A stunning achievement.”

Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and New York Times bestselling author of The Good Spy

“A compelling narrative, freighted with explosive geopolitical implications.”

— Bryce Christensen, Booklist (starred review)

“The narrative is reminiscent of novels by Denis Johnson and Robert Stone … A haunting yet wry tale of young people at war, cursed by political forces beyond their control, that can stand alongside the best narrative nonfiction coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

—  Kirkus (starred review)

“Friedman’s experiences provide a critical historical perspective on the changing climate of war in the Middle East … His lyrical writing, attention to detail, and personal honesty draw the reader into empathy along with understanding. Friedman’s memoir deserves wide readership.”

—  Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A compelling war memoir containing elements of terror, observation, boredom, and grim (at times absurd) humor…an excellent read .”

—  Library Journal (starred review)

“Matti Friedman’s requiem to youth and family and soldiering hits the mark to which all of us aspire. This book broke my heart.”

— Brian Castner, author of The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows

Riveting. Pumpkinflowers is both an historical jigsaw puzzle and an examination of Israel’s fraught national identity. Friedman recounts an almost forgotten moment in Israel’s long entanglement with her neighbors, managing to illuminate the confusion at the heart of the conflict as well as chillingly echo America’s own slide into prolonged wars in the Middle East.”

Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone

“Inspiring, heartbreaking, illuminating. Matti Friedman’s brilliant account of a forgotten war seen through the lens of a simple soldier is at once a coming of age story and an essential chronicle about how the 21st century was born.”

Yossi Klein Halevi, author of Like Dreamers

“Poignant and fascinating . . . Matti Friedman tells a war story with a journalist’s rigor and eye for detail and a poet’s touch. This book about a ‘forgotten’ war manages to be lyrical, graceful and deeply evocative even when tackling the harshest subjects imaginable. The author of The Aleppo Codex has given us another important and thoughtful work.”

—Lucette Lagnado, author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit and The Arrogant Years

paperback cover

“A superb work of investigative journalism that reads like a detective thriller.”

The Wall Street Journal


Matti Friedman’s first book, The Aleppo Codex, won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize and the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal.