"HBO’s contribution to an expanded awareness of the awful realities of war continues with a new documentary, “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq.”
Mr. Gandolfini, one of the executive producers of the film, steps out of his Tony Soprano persona to quietly, even gently, interview 10 soldiers and marines who barely escaped death in combat.
The interviews are powerful, and often chilling. They offer a portrait of combat and its aftermath that bears no relation to the sanitized, often upbeat version of war — not just in Iraq, but in general — that so often comes from politicians and the news media.
Dawn Halfaker, a 28-year-old former Army captain, is among those featured in the documentary. She lost her right arm and shoulder in Iraq, along with any illusions she might have had about the glory of war.
“I think I was a little bit naïve to what combat was really like,” she told me in an interview on Sunday. “When you’re training, you don’t really imagine that you could be holding a dying boy in your arms. You don’t think about what death is like close up.
“There’s nothing heroic about war. It’s very tragic. It’s very sad. It takes a huge emotional toll.”