Lauren Kay Johnson with Suzanne Morrison — 'The Fine Art of Camouflage'

"At the heart, this is a story that asks the question: why do we serve? Her answer is at once brutally honest and ultimately triumphant."—Susannah Cahalan


Third Place Books welcomes local author Lauren Kay Johnson to our Lake Forest Park store! Johnson will be discussing her memoir of military service, idealism, history, and mother-daughter relationships, The Fine Art of Camouflage, in conversation with local author Suzanne Morrison. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required in advance.

This event will include a public signing and time for audience Q&A. Sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book!


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About The Fine Art of Camouflage. . .

Lauren Kay Johnson is just seven when she first experiences a sacrifice of war as her mother, a nurse in the Army Reserves, deploys in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. A decade later, in the wake of 9/11, Lauren signs her own military contract and deploys to a small Afghan province with a non-combat nation-building team. Through her role as the team's information operations officer—the filter between the U.S. military and the Afghan and international publics—and through interviews and letters from her mother's service, Lauren investigates the role of information in war and in interpersonal relationships, often wrestling with the truth in stories we read and hear from the media and official sources, and in those stories we tell ourselves and our families.

A powerful generational coming-of-age narrative against the backdrop of war, The Fine Art of Camouflage reveals the impact from a child's perspective of watching her mother leave and return home to a hero's welcome to that of a young idealist volunteering to deploy to Afghanistan who, war-worn, eventually questions her place in the war, the military, and her family history—and their place within her.


Praise for The Fine Art of Camouflage. . .

"A brave and heartfelt debut memoir, one that takes us deep inside the visceral reality of a woman at war. With Johnson as our guide, we taste the stale M&M's, feel the uniform unsuited to our bodies, and struggle to carry a gun that is too big for our hands. At the heart, this is a story that asks the question: why do we serve? Her answer is at once brutally honest and ultimately triumphant."
Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

"With stark honesty and an unflinching eye, Johnson redefines what words like strength and sacrifice mean in military service. A war memoir like you've never read before."
Brian Castner, bestselling author of The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows

"The first book I've read in which a woman followed her mother into military service, The Fine Art of Camouflage is riveting. A spot-on account of being on a combat deployment as a woman, with fascinating insights into the ethical and emotional challenges of serving in a fraught environment. This is a book I will give to anyone considering joining the military, but its appeal goes far beyond that audience: it is a well-crafted exploration of the journey to finding one's self as an independent person."
Kayla Williams, author of Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army

"The Fine Art of Camouflage heralds the arrival of a sharp new literary voice. From her family inheritance of duty to country, to her inner conflicts between being a good public affairs officer and a decent human being, to her chronicles of day-to-day life as a counterinsurgent in Afghanistan, Johnson writes with a fascinating blend of how-it-was immediacy and astute reflection. What a great memoir."
Matt Gallagher, author of Empire City and Youngblood

"An astonishing glimpse into the daily life of America's military women. A moving chronicle of a mother-daughter relationship. A powerful coming-of-age tale. Johnson has pulled off a hat trick with her haunting debut. I couldn't put it down."
Joanna Rakoff, internationally bestselling author of My Salinger Year

"Beautifully crafted and deeply moving, The Fine Art of Camouflage is a memoir of Johnson's dual deployments-one to help bring stability to a war-torn land, the other to discover the true meaning of service to country. Courageous and difficult undertakings both; thus, the wisdom and insight they yield are as captivating as they are hard-won."
Jerald Walker, author of How to Make a Slave and Other Essays, National Book Award finalist

Lauren Kay Johnson’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Glamour, and several anthologies. and she has lectured at schools, conferences, and veteran centers across the country, including the Association of Writers and Writing Programs national conference, the Boston Book Festival, and the University of Iowa. A graduate of Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, she serves as a writing consultant with GrubStreet and lives with her husband and two-year-old twin daughters in Seattle.

Suzanne Morrison is the author of Yoga Bitch (Random House), which was an Indiebound bestseller, a Crosscut Best Northwest Book, and has been translated into seven languages. Yoga Bitch had its start as a long-running one-woman show of the same title, which played in New York, London, and across the United States. A recipient of grants from the Seattle Arts Commission, 4Culture, and Artist Trust, her fiction and essays have appeared in American Short Fiction, Popshot (UK), Litro, Salt HillWashington Square, the Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at Seattle’s Hugo House and at veteran centers through the Red Badge Program. 

Want a signed edition of the featured book, but can't make it to the event? Order through our website or over the phone, and write your request for a signature or personalization in the comments field at checkout. Please call the hosting store if you're placing your order within 24 hours of the event.

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