One-Star Yelp Reviews By Five-Star Generals

by John Holbo on September 12, 2015

I am too busy these days. No time to post on CT, so sad. So I’m just going to let you write the jokes, then I’ll take credit for the thread. The idea is this: bad Yelp-style reviews of countries the US has invaded, written from the perspective of high-ranking military commanders and political leaders. Take it away, CT-commenters! If you can, make Mallory Ortberg proud. If you can’t, at least don’t make Belle Waring ashamed.

UPDATE: The category can include any sort of aggressive foreign policy stance, suitably frustrated.



John Holbo 09.12.15 at 5:42 am

I’m not picky about the five-star part. We are aware there aren’t actually that many five-star generals.


Belle Waring 09.12.15 at 6:23 am

OK, then my actual joke which predated this post but was a proposed reddit guy meme rather than a Yelp review, will have to go up first, in which I was telling Zoë that the US had claimed we were going to bomb Afghanistan back to the stone age, and then been disappointed that there was so little to do in that direction, and that this had been a serious contributor to pro-Iraq war sentiment in the States. Like, “do they have any actual cities or hydroelectric dams or anything for us to destroy, or even highways? Jesus, Afghanistan: 2/10, would not bomb again.” Zoë says the US is going to do really well in the Yelp reviews. Like, “we got the reaction we wanted, and more. Exceeded expectations.”


John Holbo 09.12.15 at 6:28 am

For the record, I had no prior knowledge that Belle had a reddit guy meme in mind. I just thought she was narrating the discontents of the Afghan war to Zoe, in a characteristically Belle-ish way. These things can happen even in happy homes.


Hindu Friend 09.12.15 at 6:40 am

General Westmoreland on Vietnam: One star: nasty weather; natives are ungrateful bastards; good asparagus and crab soup though (thanks to the Frogs for introducing asparagus to this God-forsaken hell-hole).


eponymous coward 09.12.15 at 7:03 am

Valley Forge: One star, horrible winter weather, my men are barefoot and bleeding in the snow thanks to an ungrateful Congress that’s providing TERRIBLE service. 1 out of 10, would not repeat. G. Washington.


JakeB 09.12.15 at 7:09 am

Admiral Joseph Metcalf on Grenada: 3 stars: Nice weather, nice beaches, but where is the reggae, mon?


George 09.12.15 at 8:45 am

Yemen: 1 star: Nothing like the brochure. Effectively locked in a tourist bubble that could be home with no contact with the locals. Kids stay in their room all day playing the latest video game “Drone attack”.


oldster 09.12.15 at 9:15 am

Why do you think that Belle Waring has lower standards than Mallory Ortberg? This is vile calumny. Of both of them, probably.


Avery 09.12.15 at 9:22 am

Cristoforo Colombo: East Indies

Not at all as described. I demand a refund.

ps–traveling coach sucks.


John Holbo 09.12.15 at 9:33 am

Well, the point was rather than Belle would not mind some sub-Ortberg grade contributions. But if they should fall too dramatically below that level, Belle might become annoyed.


deiseach 09.12.15 at 9:41 am

Vietnam: one star. Some cultural remnants may appeal to those of a Francophile disposition, but mostly devoid of the rustic Paleolithic charm that I had come to expect. C.E LeMay.


James Wimberley 09.12.15 at 9:43 am

Bactria: one-and-a half stars. A godsforsaken dump and total waste of time apart from the camels (half a star) and crazy sex with native witches (one star). How do I get out of here? – Alexander.


P O'Neill 09.12.15 at 12:06 pm

Colin Powell in Baghdad

Wow, what a disappointing place! My friend Dick said he’d arranged with the concierge to send a greeting party for us to the airport, but they never showed up! The friends in my group were also a bit surprised because they been told the airport road had just been renamed “Route Irish” since we were in another land of a hundred thousand welcomes! I will admit it was a thrill to be on the banks of the Tigris but our riverbank walk before dinner was kind of a bummer because all the power to the streetlights was out for some reason! Anyway, we had dinner at the Palestine Hotel — my companion Paul W was a bit upset about the name of the place and said he’d get the sign “taken care of” — we all laughed! There was a really long wait but Leslie (as I always call him) spoke to the maitre d’ and got us a table. Awful food as the fridges had been busted for days — that strange power issue again! Since I didn’t need to use my tupperware containers for leftovers, I told my friend George back in DC that I’d bring him back some souvenirs of that stuff (our codeword) that we’d been sent there to find — he said anyone on any street corner would know where to find it. But I better find it soon because I’m not coming back to this dump anytime soon!


Ronan(rf) 09.12.15 at 12:10 pm

Ive always* wanted to write a short story about Tommy Franks going on an independent pre war scouting mission to Tie Rack.

* defintion of always being since 20minutes ago.


Kevin E 09.12.15 at 1:25 pm

N. Korea: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” D. MacArthur.


Barry Freed 09.12.15 at 2:55 pm

Reviewer: Brigadier General and President of France, Charles de Gaulle
Country: French Algeria. Rating: One star.

Review: This has always been my favorite département of France but I don’t know what the hell happened to it. My family has been coming here to vacation for generations. We even had a second home here. It’s got good sun, food, wine, and the locals used to be very hospitable. Now the people are rude and refuse to speak proper French. I really thought I understood them. And truth be told the other French vacationers are even worse if it can be believed. I’ve had enough, we’re selling the family place here. Will never spend my vacation here again.


Glen Tomkins 09.12.15 at 4:36 pm

General Navarre, reviewing Vietnam

Place is like a chamber pot. Damned if we didn’t crapped on. Haven’t had worse accommodations since I visited Sedan. I give it negative 4 stars.

Julius Caesar, writing of Pontus

I came, I saw, I conquered. Yada, yada, yada — everyone who visits does the same damn arriving, seeing, and conquering, which gets you everything there is to do here on the first day. Had a much better time in Bithynia. This dump gets one star.


Omega Centauri 09.12.15 at 5:10 pm

General (soon to be Field Marshal Paulus) Volgograd doesn’t at all resemble the brochures, things are in an advanced state of decay, and none of the heating systems work. The natives are unfriendly. The spectacular nighttime fireworks displays are only fun to watch the first night after that, they simply make it hard to sleep. And the food sucks. But our guests sent courtesy of uncle Joe keep arriving by the boatload, despite the fact that we treat them as poorly as they treat us.


Lupita 09.12.15 at 6:03 pm

Mexican-American War, Battle of Chapultepec

Reviewer: General Winfield Scott

Date: September 12 (today), 1847

Review: What? It was a military academy? The cadets were 12 years old? Let’s commemorate with a song:

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.


dm 09.12.15 at 7:21 pm

GenGeoACuster here, pulling one tiny wobbly bar out here so wish me luck on getting this posted! (Red on the Verizon map, my a**.) Got to say if ambiance is your thing then Little Big Horn valley has everything – except for service – which is so far non-existent. Reno finally got bored, snapped a couple of selfies with his crew and left – not that I blame him. Got the place to ourselves now, which is nice. Cripes, where is everybody I haven’t got all day? Oh finally, they’ve come for me. More later…


Layman 09.12.15 at 7:22 pm

George Armstrong Custer

Despite the hype, the Black Hills leave me cold. It’s way hotter than I expected, lots of dust, and the accommodations suck. The food is gross. Plus, no wifi? What’s up with that? On the bright side, the guide says there’s some kind of native display today, so maybe that will have made the trip worthwhile…


Neville Morley 09.12.15 at 7:56 pm

Syracuse. Okay, under different circumstances this might have been okay, but you can not believe the brochure – it’s much further away than you’re led to expect, the natives are far less amenable than advertised, and if you don’t pack everything but the kitchen sink for a six-month stay you’re going to be in trouble. Communication back home also a problem – don’t expect a prompt response. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Nicias.


TheSophist 09.12.15 at 8:27 pm

Waterloo: I spent 100 days traveling for this? Not at all like the song.

N. Bonaparte


TheSophist 09.12.15 at 8:38 pm

The flight was good, but since arrival things have gone from bad to worse. The gates were barred, and the natives have been beyond unwelcoming – cacophonies of horns, volleys of arrows, no elephant polo for the mumakil. I was promised elephant polo. The customer service representative I’m dealing with just now just called me a dwimmerlaik. What does that even mean? I’m going to have to use the mace I was given in that self-defense course on him. Oh, not a him? My ba-

Minas Tirith: One Star – WKO Angmar


phenomenal cat 09.12.15 at 8:46 pm

Seems to me the thread thesis should be inverted; i.e., yelp-style reviews of US invasions, incursions, and aggressive foreign policy positions from pov of locals.


Farzhad Abbubakr
Baghdad 2003
Review of America Town
1 *
“The freedom fries were soggy and the democracy burgers way under-cooked”

So, after endless rumors about this franchise setting up shop it finally happened. Baghdad got its first America Town! I was excited b/c let’s face it, there’s not shit to do around here and no good restaurants. We don’t even have a fucking Wal-mart! I did wait till some of the hubbub died down before going; lines out the door for weeks and forget about getting a reservation. Anyway, by the time we went we’d been hearing some mixed reviews but my buddy and I were still pretty psyched.

Big mistake.

First off, the hostess ignored us for like 15 minutes and then when she finally did greet us it was like we were somehow imposing on her. I think, “whatevs,” maybe she’s having a bad night. I wasn’t going to sweat it. Then she takes us back to our table. Location is fine, there’s definitely a lot going on around us, but, sweet jesus, the music is so LOUD. I mean cranium-splittingly loud. And the lighting in the place is beyond description. Totally random. One minute it is garishly bright and strobing in a way that really could cause an epileptic fit. The next second it is basically total darkness in there. Really disorienting. But idiots that we are, we’re still thinking, “at least it’s different than the same ole same ole.” Then we look at the menu. We can’t believe it. There’s only 2 things to order! Seriously, 2 things–that’s it. This place is supposed to be all about lots of choices and “have it your way” and shit. Ha! It takes another 15 minutes for our waiter to show up and he’s–well, let me put it this way, the dude seems mental, like he is hanging on a by a thread or something. I was going to ask about the shit amount of items on the menu, but one look at that guy’s eyes and me and my bro just calmly and politely order the only two items available.

As you might have guessed by now it took forever to get our food. Not that we were exactly bored. Every few minutes these burly looking doormen would appear from nowhere and grab whole families by the scruff of their collective neck and toss them out into the street. Why? I have no idea and I wasn’t going to ask either. When our food finally did arrive it was, needless to say, less than sub-par. The freedom fries were totally soggy and not even lukewarm. The democracy burgers which the menu said were a full pound of pure American grass-fed beef were maybe an eighth of pound, pretty much raw, and fully inedible. My bro was going to send his back, but when we saw a different lunatic waiter cap a dude in the ass for complaining about the lights he thought better of it. To top it off, it was expensive as hell which we didn’t know about b/c America Town doesn’t bother to put prices on the menu.

My 2 cents: the place is way over-hyped and way over-priced. Shit food and shittier service. It defies logic that they’re talking about opening up new locations.


TM 09.13.15 at 4:02 am

No review but a joke that I read in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz. The book is in large part about the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. When the narrator mentions the occupation of the DR by the US:

” The word came into common usage during the first American Occupation of the DR, which ran from 1916 to 1924. (You didn’t know that we were occupied twice in the twentieth century? Don’t worry, when you have kids they won’t know the U.S. occupied Iraq either.)”


Colin Danby 09.13.15 at 6:17 am

Kealakekua Bay: Yeah, they treat you like a God and the scenery is spectacular but just try getting a mast fixed. Clubs? Please. J. Cook.


Warren Terra 09.13.15 at 6:47 am

Tsushima islands, 26 May 1905 –

A little misunderstanding meant we had to go the long way ’round to get here. Seems like it’s taken ages, but very scenic and sure to be worth it. Hope we’re not too late! Tomorrow we will deal with a little business and then we should have a nice vacation.

Admiral Rozhestvensky


Ze K 09.13.15 at 3:31 pm

Ha, about the Dominican Republic, the second invasion; here’s an actual quote from Cat Chaser by Elmore Leonard:

“I ate that chow just one time and got Trujillo’s Revenge [diarrhea],” Nolen said. “I partied with one girl, one – and took home a dose. I take a vacation, man, I go to Las Vegas where everything’s sanitary.”


Barry Freed 09.13.15 at 6:03 pm

[The following review was inadvertently cut short due to connectivity issues on account of constant German artillery barrages and ground assaults. Only the last word of this review made it through and was then erroneously posted and we sincerely apologize for any misunderstandings or inconvenience this may have caused our loyal readers. We are happy to be able to finally correct the record and offer the full review below for your consideration.]

Reviewer: Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander 101st Airborne Division.
Place Reviewed: Bastogne
Score: 1 1/2 stars.
Review: The scenery is very pretty, if a bit blasted to smithereens but the accommodation is definitely sub-standard, basically just a hole in the ground. And you’re gonna have to dig your own. Now I’ll be the first to admit I picked a bad time of the year to go, for one thing it was completely surrounded by Germans. And it was hard to sleep because of the thunderous racket they made and the constant illumination rounds. But whatever you do, don’t make the same mistake I did and go in the middle of winter – you’ll freeze your nuts!


gianni 09.13.15 at 6:35 pm

1 star

A place so miserable that just a single tour is enough to precipitate an existential crisis.

I can only recommend it to those of you who relish waking up to the smell of napalm, every god-damn morning .


Bill Murray 09.13.15 at 8:31 pm

reviewer: Kublai Khan, 1825 AC

place reviewed: Japan

1 star

Comment: Man, it is windy as hell out there


PGD 09.14.15 at 10:42 am

Various on Syria: The chef here was so bad that I thought I would do the neighborhood a favor by trying to get him fired. But the staff turned out to be even worse! You should see some of the things that the kitchen workers are doing with knives in the back room. To make things worse, now all the other customers want to come home with us.


Brett Dunbar 09.14.15 at 6:37 pm

Zanzibar 27th August 1896 10AM. Disappointing, was expecting more.


Trader Joe 09.14.15 at 7:11 pm

Reviewer: Anon
Place: Bay of Pigs

The tropical setting was just as promised and though we didn’t have reservations the staff was well prepared for our arrival. Although the service was weak, one can’t fault the execution. Our big disappointment was really the beaches. Some were much too loud and all of them were far more crowded than shown in the pictures we has seen just a few days before. Local hospitality also left a bit to be desired. We’d like to be more flattering, but the overall experience was not even close and no cigar.

One star

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