Memoirs from Babylon: A Combat Chaplain's Life in Iraq's Triangle of Death
by Jeff Bryan. 252 pages (August 25, 2011) Combat Chaplain Ministries. America's unofficial nightmare during the Iraq War was the infamous Triangle of Death, sometimes referred to by Iraqis as the Graveyard of the Americans. While serving in the Triangle, Chaplain Jeff Bryan ministered to a 1,200-man infantry task force, often while patrolling streets, fields, and villages as his unit cleared them in close-quarters combat. During the most violent and controversial phase of the war, Chaplain Bryan brought God to the American warrior. He witnessed life, death, and faith at every level, including a worst-case scenario in which several troops in his unit were ambushed and captured. Memoirs from Babylon is a dramatic account of humanity at its best and worst, a gut-wrenching experience of fear and faith under fire. Chaplain Bryan’s story is a unique combination of military history, battlefield leadership, and God-centered hope in the midst of America’s nightmare. (Review from CombatChaplain.com)
Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog
by Mike Dowling. 304 pages (December 13, 2011) Atria Books. Mike Dowling is a Marine who fought in Iraq, deployed in 2004, where he served with the battle-hardened Warlords unit that was based in the ultraviolent Triangle of Death. The author recounts how he and his German shepherd comrade Rex risked their lives on a near-daily basis while laying the groundwork for future K9 teams serving in battlefield units in Iraq. (Review by Mike Householder, AP)
Armed Humanitarians: The Rise of the Nation Builders
by Nathan Hodge. 352 pages (February 15, 2011) Bloomsbury USA. The author covers the "nation building" role of the US armed forces in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, a role the Army and Marines were ill-prepared for but have taken up with some success. Hodge does his own firsthand reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan and builds on extensive interviews with key figures to show how 9/11 forced a change in policy from conventional warfare and foreign policy to an entirely different approach. Will it work? The book cautions that it's a long slog that will be a challenge to the U.S. way of doing things.
by Sebastian Junger. 304 pages (May 11, 2010) Twelve. War is the story developed by the author during five months with an Army platoon in Afghanistan. He describes the details of daily life in great detail, coupled with an examination of the motivations of the men and how they manage the stress and dangers of combat. The fact that many of them like it and willingly put themselves in harms way is central to the book.
The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars
by Patrick Hennessey. 336 pages (September 7, 2010) Riverhead Trade. Ignore the title. The book is a fast paced window into the exhausting routine of a young officer of the British professional Army. First, Oxford graduate Hennessey describes his time at Sandhurst, Britain's elite military acadamy. Then, as a newly minted British army officer he hopes to find fulfillment when assigned to Iraq but finds boredom instead, only punctuated with action. His transfer to Afghanistan puts him more in the fight and he finds the personal tests he was looking for as the battle rages daily.
Rage Company: A Marine's Baptism By Fire
by Thomas P. Daly. 384 pages (April 12, 2010) Wiley. Exceptional memoir and history of the war in Iraq, as experienced by Marines. Vividly descriptive and personal.
by Donovan Campbell. 336 pages (March 10, 2009) Random House. Lieutenant Campbell went from Princeton U. to Marine OCS to Iraq, leading a platoon called Joker One. He tells the fast paced, deeply factual, and un-whitewashed story of what happened there with refreshing candor and meaningful detail, making us part of the team as the platoon goes about the tough business of counterinsergency. This moving biography will help readers understand what it means to be a combat Marine as they carry out their mission and cope with the enormous stress on body and soul.
In a Time of War: The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002
by Bill Murphy. 384 pages (September 16, 2008) Henry Holt and Co. The 1,246 entering Cadets of the Class of 2002, whose graduation fell on the 200th anniversary of West Point, were the Army's Golden Children from Reception Day in 1998. These idealistic, motivated young men and women signed up in peacetime when no one saw what was coming: 9-11 and the wars that would make seasoned combat leaders out of young Second Lieutenants, if they survived. Some were from service families with the military in their blood, while others had to overcome parental objections. They came together sharing a common vision of military service mixed with a practical choice of career and a way to finance a first class education.
Through interviews, letters, email, diaries and his own visits to Iraq as a reporter, Bill Murphy smoothly relates the interlocking stories of the Cadets, their years at West Point, followed by their service in the Army. In many ways they are like other American young adults, choosing where to live and work, making friends, dating, marrying and starting families. But underlying reality in this case is uniformed service, which meant that most of them deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq or both, most serving two or three tours before the chronicle ends in early 2008.
Following graduation, the classmates kept in touch, carrying the remarkable bonds forged at West Point through their Army careers and private lives. They shared their friends' joys of marriage, children and promotion, often travelling long distances to be together. They shared the family disruption of geographical separation and the agony of injury and death, all too common in this group of combat arms junior officers who lead dangerous missions day after day. Observing this in exceptional detail, the book's bottom-up view of the wars and these officers' lives is an emotional rollercoaster mixing pride of accomplishment and personal growth with the grind of duty and horrors of the battlefields.
And when the Army Casualty Notification Team comes to the door, it's not only the young widow who bears the pain of loss. The extended clan of family and friends suffer and find it hard to accept, as the slaughter of America's best and brightest in distant battles hits home. Both on the battlefield and in the sacrifices of the families, war is indeed hell.
For the reader too, it's an emotional blow to feel the loss of soldiers you have come to know and care about in these pages. It will help you to understand the wars of the 21st Century at a micro level, and to appreciate what service to country really means.
Moment of Truth in Iraq: How a New 'Greatest Generation' of American Soldiers is Turning Defeat and Disaster into Victory and Hope
by Michael Yon. 256 pages (April 23, 2008) Richard Vigilante Books. The war in Iraq could have been a hopeless bloodbath, a true quagmire. Many ill informed people -- Americans and world wide -- believe it actually is all bad with the only solution an immediate pull out of U.S. and allied forces. Michael Yon, who according to the New York Times has spent more time in combat situations in Iraq than any other reporter, tells it like it is. He finds that the American troops are winning the war, not by brute force but through highly sensitive and effective counterinsurgency tactics. They have made firm allies of the Iraqi population and turned them against the foreign fighters who are causing most of the harm. Under Gen. David Petraeus's brilliant leadership, the combined U.S. forces have forged partnerships of trust and respect with the people and indigenous leaders of one Iraqi community after another, forming the basis for a free society and lasting peace. The war is not over because Iran, al Qaeda and other external enemies are desperate to prevent American success, but the corner has been turned.
Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond
by Robert D. Kaplan. 448 pages (September 12, 2006) Vintage. The U.S. military is in every corner of the globe, dealing with small conflicts and unstable situations that threaten, immediately or distantly, the U.S. interests and strategic alliances. This book explores the nature of those efforts, especially the Special Operations forces that get down and dirty with the local population to change the equation to favor the outcome preferred by the U.S. Since many of these operations are "out of the headlines", i.e. not covered by the conventional media, Imperial Grunts provides much needed insight into the conflicts, the U.S. military approach, and most of all the under-recognized military personnel who are carrying the load far from home.
House to House: An Epic Memoir of War
by David Bellavia. 336 pages (September 4, 2007) Free Press. SSgt David Bellavia (1st Infantry Division) describes the street level fighting in Fallujah during 2004, an authentic account of the uncertainty, danger, and confusion that go with all combat but especially the modern curse of urban operations against an unconventional enemy. Bellavia was in the thick of the battle for which his conduct was honored with the Silver Star and Bronze Star and he has been recommended for higher honors. He delivers the word on Fallujah in unvarnished form -- all the hardship, mistakes, profanity, blood and guts, and ultimate victory as it happened.
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
by Marcus Luttrell. 390 pages (June 12, 2007) Little, Brown and Company. Lone Survivor is a first person account that starts with the training of Navy SEALs for missions of the greatest difficulty. Luttrell and three other SEALs were given such a mission in June 2005, sent to kill an al Qaeda leader in the mountains of Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan. As they neared their objective, the team was discovered by Afghan civilians but the SEALs made the decision to release them unharmed. Shortly afterward the SEALs were attacked by the Taliban, probably betrayed by the civilians they had spared. In a series of running battles in some of the worst terrain on earth, three of the SEALs were killed leaving only Luttrell to fight on and try to escape. Worse, a rescue helicopter was shot down killing 16 more Americans. Badly wounded, Luttrell did evade the Taliban. He was eventually found, nursed and hidden by friendly Pashtun tribesmen, was extricated, and survived to receive the Navy Cross. One of the SEALs who perished in the mission was Lt. Michael Murphy who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2007. Read more at this link.
We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder With the Marines Who Took Fallujah
, by Patrick K. O'Donnell (October 30, 2006). Da Capo Press: 244 pages. One of the best books ever to describe the reality of Marines in combat, street to street, house to house, hand to hand. O'Donnell was with 1st platoon, Lima Co, 3/1 in November of 2004 in the Battle of Fallujah, living through the fighting and 24/7 rigors of combat. The Marine survivor's stories form the central narrative and infuse it with reality. O'Donnell's writing makes it real for the reader and leaves you with a deep appreciation of how tough it is and what is owed to the Marines who volunteer for service.
Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57
, by Michael Weisskopf (October 3, 2006). Henry Holt and Co.: 320 pages. Michael Weisskopf writes of the cost of war with depth, compassion, and empathy drawn from his own loss on 10 December 2003. While he was riding through Baghdad in a 1st Armored Division HMMWV as an embedded Time Magazine reporter, a grenade was thrown into the vehicle. Weisskopf grabbed it and threw it out just as it exploded, costing him his hand but saving multiple lives. Army medics responded and in the aftermath Weisskopf received the same treatment as enlisted soldiers, an exception granted to the civilian in recognition of his heroic act. He was aeroevacuated through Landstuhl to Walter Reed, landing in Ward 57, the destination of Iraq War amputees. There he lived his own medical agony while befriending and recording the details of others' ordeals. For over a year he chronicled the physical and emotional struggles, triumphs and setbacks of the men who enthusiastically volunteered to serve but did not come back whole. It is an uplifting story, a combination of the warriors' incredible toughness and grit, further strengthened by the foundation of religious faith many of them had to lean on. Strong families, volunteers and overworked staff poured their energies and support into Ward 57, helping with everything from advanced technology prosthetics to plates of cookies. But with all the external support, the biggest battles had to be won from within, not least Weiskopf's own struggle to understand the true meaning of the act that cost him his hand. Was it heroic, as many were quick to assure him, or just a dumb reflex not worthy of special distinction? Other men had parallel struggles with survival guilt, personal puzzles about exactly how and why they ended up as a disabled vet, and how they could go on. These and many other narrative threads, large and small, make Blood Brothers a compelling read, a must for understanding the Iraq War, who bears the burden, and how they feel about it.
Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families
, edited by Andrew Carroll (September 12, 2006). Random House: 416 pages. The soldiers, men and women, who are fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with their families, describe their experiences and express their insights and opinions about the conflicts. Described as "multi-faceted and agenda free" the material for this book was culled from short stories, poems, letters, and emails written from the battlefields to cover the full spectrum of thoughts and emotions of the military professionals who fight the fights of the War on Terror. As one reviewer wrote, "Operation Homecoming has raised my respect, pride, and admiration for our military to a far deeper and more powerful level."
Marines in the Garden of Eden
by Richard S. Lowry (June 6, 2006). Berkley Hardcover: 448 pages. This book is the true story of the bloodiest battle in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein, on 23 March 2003 in the city of An Nasiriyah, Iraq. Members of the 507th Maintenance Company were hopelessly lost on their trek through the desert. The enemy ambushed the 507th at first light, killing and wounding twenty-one soldiers and taking six prisoners, including the now-famous Private Jessica Lynch. By nightfall, 18 Marines had given their lives in what would become the battle for An Nasiriyah. For the next week, An Nasiriyah was rocked with gun and mortar fire, as the Marines of Task Force Tarawa fought to wrest control of the city from Saddam's fanatical followers. Marines in the Garden of Eden tells the story of the battle for "The Nas," as seen through the eyes of the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and newsmen who made it through those terrible seven days.
the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat
by Rick Atkinson (March
15, 2004). Hardcover: 336 pages. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Atkinson
(author of An
Army at Dawn
, see WW II books) was embedded with the 101st Airborne
Division during the 2003 war in Iraq. From staging at Fort Campbell to
"victory" in Baghdad and the beginning of the long struggle
to rebuild and reconstitute Iraq, Atkinson rode beside Maj. Gen. David
Patraeus, the Division commander of the Screaming Eagles. The book is
an engaging mixture of ground level details of firefights, movement, and
very local observations combined with the overview of the constantly evolving
campaign from Gen. Patraeus' point of view. The frustrations, mistakes,
and moments of tactical victory are all shared. You experience the misery
of war in the Iraqi desert (heat and dust, then more heat and dust), the
challenge of moving through a population that was suspicious and hostile
one moment then welcoming and cheering the next, the politically motivated
rules of engagement, the pain of death and injuries, and the incredible
fast pace of the war that outstripped Army command doctrine. Iraq is the
likely model for 21st Century warfare -- this book is your primer for
how it is and will be.
by Rick Atkinson (October 1994). Hardcover: 608 pages. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Atkinson (see In the Company of Soldiers
here writes an engrossing account of the actions and utterances of those who directed and fought in the Persian Gulf War. He also provides a thorough analysis of diplomatic and political aspects of the conflict. Rich in pertinent details, the powerful narrative leaps nimbly from Washington to Riyadh, from Baghdad to Kuwait City, and to various battle sites across the sands. Expectedly, the book's dominant personality is General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, whose operatic rages are here shown to be an integral element of his command style. Atkinson defends the much-maligned VII Corps commander, Gen. Fred Franks, against Schwarzkopf's "unfair and unwarranted" criticism. The basic tactical decisions are all here, but the author also addresses the broader issues such as the true effectiveness of the air war, what role the Vietnam War played in Desert Shield/Desert Storm ("For Norman Schwarzkopf and his lieutenants, this war lasted not six weeks but twenty years"), and passes judgment on the reality-testing of the U.S. Army AirLand Battle doctrine. Includes photos.
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