Published by Broadway World

In Ugly Lies the Bone, Jess’s injuries-severe burns sustained from an IED explosion-are indicative of the unique costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As of February 2013, these two conflicts had resulted in over 6,500 deaths, nearly half of them from IEDs. IEDs, or Improvised Explosive Devices, are homemade bombs, constructed at a relatively low cost with readily accessible combustive materials (fertilizer, gunpowder, hydrogen peroxide). Occasionally packed with sharp materials (glass, nails, metal) to increase the likelihood of shrapnel-like injuries, the bombs are often buried along the roadside, to be detonated remotely or automatically when troops walk or drive over the sites. When IEDs first appeared in combat zones, in early 2002, the military didn’t know how to categorize the deaths that were occurring as a result of seemingly unmanned explosions. The first death immediately (rather than retroactively) classified as resulting from an IED explosion occurred on November 14, 2003. In the following decade, IEDs came to be common knowledge in both the military and the media, and their results have left a lasting legacy-not only in deaths, but also in (far more common, and just as devastating) injuries.

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