Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives

Finalist, National Book Awards 2008 for Nonfiction

Final Salute book jacket, by Jim Sheeler
ISBN 9780143115458
The Penguin Press

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“The curtains pull away. They come to the door.
And they know. They always know.” 
— Major Steve Beck.

Since the start of the war in Iraq, service members from all branches of the military have found themselves thrown into a mission they never trained for, a mission without weapons.

Casualty notification.

In Final Salute, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Jim Sheeler takes us into the mind of a casualty notification officer who embarks on the most important mission of his life, and the page-turning journey of the families he and his comrades touch along the way.

Judges Citation

In Final Salute, Jim Sheeler chronicles the painful process through which the United States Marine Corps assists families who have lost members on foreign battlefields. The book’s sincerity and simplicity are integral to its strength. Through the story of each individual life lost and a final and tragic homecoming, readers are given a glimpse into the meaning of sacrifice and a rare opportunity to mourn the loss of fellow Americans sent in harm’s way.