Corporal Dunham was on patrol near the Syrian border on April 14, 2004, when a black-clad Iraqi leaped out of a car and grabbed him around his neck. Fighting hand-to-hand in the dirt, Dunham saw his attacker drop a grenade and made the instantaneous decision to place his own helmet over the explosive in the hope of containing the blast and protecting his men. When the smoke cleared, Dunham's helmet was in shreds, and the corporal lay face down in his own blood. The Marines beside him were seriously wounded. Dunham was subsequently nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor.
Phillips's minute-by-minute chronicle of the chaotic fighting that raged throughout the area and culminated in Dunham's injury provides a grunt's-eye view of war as it's being fought today: fear, confusion, bravery, and suffering set against a brotherhood forged in combat. His account of Dunham's eight-day journey home and of his parents' heartrending reunion with their son powerfully illustrates the cold brutality of war and the fragile humanity of those who fight it. Dunham leaves an indelible mark upon all who know his story, from the doctors and nurses who treat him, to the readers of the original Wall Street Journal article that told of his singular act of valor.
©2005 Michael M. Phillips; (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.
"Phillips' nearly shot-by-shot recap of the day's bloody and chaotic combat is one of the most vivid depictions of the American side of the Iraqi insurgency." (Publishers Weekly)
This book exposes the magnificent heartbreak of being a marine in combat. Seen in large part through the eyes (and mouths) of the grunts living through the fog and absurdity of war, the author transports the listener inside a marine squad faced with the horror of the multilation and potential death of its leader. Not for the fainthearted. No doubt combat vets will see themselves in the stories of these men. I did.
Phillips does an excellent job of taking the reader through the ups and downs of Marine life -- for both the Marine and the family left behind. We get to see the human side of the Marine for a change. To those who have family members serving in Iraq, they will recognize the worry, relief, joy, pride and agony. For others, this book provides a good window into the personal struggles faced by those serving in the military and their families.
This story is simply told in simple language, but very powerful. It describes the affect of war on people, young soldiers, parents, brothers and sisters and of the horrors faced by the young men of the US in Iraq. I found at times that the tears wlled up in my eyes and the anguish and waste of war was described. If more politicians read this story, perhaps there would be less wars in the future !! (we can all hope.....)
The only negative is that the narration is not great, however the boring voice does not take away from the power of the story.
I have a weakness for heroic tales and "The Gift of Valor" floored me. I have served in the military and I found this book laden with the brutal realities of War. This book takes you to the heart of what makes men heroes.
"The Gift of Valor" is well read and fast paced. I enjoyed the book very much.
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