Machete Squad

by David Axe, Per Berg, Brent Dulak, Kevin Knodell

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Editions:Paperback Original with French Flaps: $ 18.95
ISBN: 9781682471005
Size: 6.63 x 10.25 in
Pages: 160

“This episodic tale of military life has a gritty honesty, like a guy at a dive bar with a story to get off his chest.” —Publishers Weekly

2018 Foreword INDIES Finalist

Brent Dulak doesn’t want to go to Afghanistan. Haunted by the memories of his two tours in Iraq and burnt out on soldiering, he wants nothing more than to engage in self-destructive behavior. He’s a U.S. Army medic who was recently promoted to sergeant, in charge of a team of soldiers whose job it will be to patch up the wounded at a remote outpost as the Americans prepare to turn Kandahar Province over to the Afghan forces. That won’t be easy: Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban. It’s filled with motivated insurgents, question-able local allies, and countless ways to die. Brutally honest and darkly funny, Machete Squad is the story of a soldier trying to keep people alive as America’s longest war rages all around him. He must look out for the welfare of his men and their patients even as he doubts his own abilities—and at times his sanity.

Reviews:Publishers Weekly wrote:

"...This episodic tale of military life has a gritty honesty, like a guy at a dive bar with a story to get off his chest."

Kirkus Reviews wrote:

“A U.S. Army medic cuts to the bone in a graphic memoir that takes full advantage of the form. This book . . . offers a vivid, terrifying, and often beautiful illumination of one man's cathartic experience in Afghanistan. . . . Many of the panels have few or no words, letting the art convey the depth of the experience. It's a collaborative effort, with journalists Knodell and Axe—who also teamed up on The 'Stan (2018), another of the first titles from this series—turning Dulak's testimony into a taut narrative that complements the art. . . . Readers will have a visceral response to the experiences shared by this searing memoir.”

Foreword Reviews wrote:

Machete Squad succeeds not merely by illustrating the depravity of war but by showing how an individual can find peace in his decisions and actions, regardless of the scenario.”

Comics Bulletin wrote:

“This is a timely and tragic story that reflects the complicated world in which we live.”

Graphic Policy on YouTube wrote:

“[Machete Squad is] a solid example of graphic journalism. The stories are heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and sobering…. There is a cinematic quality to it. [It would work well as] an animated film…. It’s a fantastic read if you’re into military stories or if you want an honest assessment of what’s going on in Afghanistan. This [book] is pretty amazing.”

The Fandom Post wrote:

“The art works very well in this piece. The artist uses a very expressive, cartoony style that allows for the characters to emote in a way that’s more effective and engaging than a more photorealistic style would permit. The colors also add to the story nicely, especially the way that it juxtaposes the bright Afghan days with the dark Afghan nights…. Machete Squad is easily [a strong] title.”

ComicScene UK wrote:

"If you’re wanting a taste of military life with adventure, then Machete Squad is for you. This is the cutting edge of a modern graphic novels." wrote:

“Dulak’s account is powerful.”

ARMY magazine wrote:

Machete Squad tells a straightforward and heartfelt first-person narrative of U.S. Army medic Brent Dulak…. The moral and physical hazards of war are realistically portrayed.”

Collateral wrote:

Machete Squad is worth a read particularly for Dulak’s honesty about his experiences not as a ‘True American Hero’ but as a regular man learning how to survive conditions no human should ever have to endure. For once, it is refreshing to see a narrative that shows bravery in violent conflict—such as insisting on doing the ethical, ‘right thing’ despite going against protocol—without glorifying war itself.”

Military Times wrote:

“The austere settings are vast in scale yet feel intimate, as though you are seeing the world through Dulak’s eyes. Berg’s drawings expertly use color (warm and cool) and depth (shadows and angles).” wrote:

[Machete Squad] provides a vivid, terrifying, and sometimes stunning illumination of one man’s cathartic expertise in Afghanistan.”

PopularMilitary wrote:

“Illustrated by Per Darwin Berg, Dulak’s Machete Squad is a captivating tale.”

Military Heritage wrote:

“This work is open and honest about soldiers’ experiences and is often darkly humorous in a way that veterans of any era will find familiar.”

The AMEDD Historian wrote:

”Dulak does not hold back. His experience of self-doubt, frustration, and poor leadership make the story real. Just like the language used reflects the vernacular of infantry medics, this non-fictional work accurately depicts one of the stories of Army Medicine in the longest war in United States’ history –warts and all.” (Winter 2019)

Col Seth W.B. Folsom USMC, author of Where Youth and Laughter Go: With “The Cutting Edge” in Afghanistan wrote:

“Ruthless and eye-opening… Machete Squad cuts like a jagged instrument, providing an uncomfortable but essential look at a national wound improperly treated for nearly two decades. It is the grunt’s-eye view of a war most have already forgotten, but one that will define the next generation of military and civilian leaders.”

The Midwest Book Review wrote:

Machete Squad is the full-color, graphic novel memoir of Brent Dulak, a U.S. Army medic and veteran of two tours in Iraq sent to serve in Afghanistan, America's longest war. His duty is to take care of the wounded at a remote outpost as the Americans prepare to turn Kandahar Province over to Afghan forces. Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban; senseless violence plagues the land, sending not only injured soldiers, but also civilians and even dying children to the overworked Dulak. Candidly describing the violence of war, laced with dark humor, and all but impossible to put down, Machete Squad is highly recommended.”

—Arcadia Pod wrote:

“This book is pretty good and does a good job of showing how Hellish ‘America’s longest war’ was. The book has a competent story, interesting characters and a good message…. I firmly believe that war needs to be shown for what it is, and not some nationalistic ‘Go team America!’ cheering session. Machete Squad does a great job of being a compelling and realistic war memoir, and I’d love to see the creative team do more.”

About the Contributors

David Axe

David Axe is a writer, editor and filmmaker living in Columbia, South Carolina. A former war correspondent, he has written for Vice, The Daily Beast, The Village Voice and many other publications. He is the writer of the graphic novel War is Boring and the 2017 movie The Theta Girl. He lives in Columbia, SC.

Per Berg

Per Berg is a comic artist and writer currently working out of Seattle in the indy market. He volunteers weekly with the Bureau of Fearless Ideas, a writing center for K-12. His favorite hobby is comedy but he's not that funny.

Brent Dulak

Brent Dulak grew up in Wisconsin, where he hated his job and decided to join the Army. He deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. He's a graduate of University of Washington's School of Medicine and works as an Emergency Medicine Physicians' Assistant in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kevin Knodell

Kevin Knodell is a journalist that covers conflict, culture and crime. His work has appeared at Playboy, The Week, Vice, Soldier of Fortune, The News Tribune and others. He's a former Contributing Editor at and writes the Acts of Valor comic series for Naval History magazine. He lives in Tacoma, WA.