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5.0 out of 5 starsHarrowing stories of close encounters good and bad
Reviewed in the United States on January 19, 2018
This is the story about when the politicians get out of the way and let our professional soldiers do their jobs. Its a redo of Falusia mess earlier in the 2004 when we were unprepared and unsupported and politically out maneuvered. Well written and not a read for right before bed, unless you are ok staying up all night. Harrowing stories of close encounters good and bad, different officer styles that lead to different outcomes, but it is war. Great contemporary war chronicle of what the modern US armed forces are capable of when not micromanaged. Yeah.
4.0 out of 5 starsInteresting and detailed, lots of rah rah too.
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2015
The action described and the way our Armed Forces are organized, efficient and practice their craft is very enlightening and seeing the organized work is incredible. Also, the training and individual heroism among the particular men and women on teh front lines is to be admired.
That being said, this book was by no means a clinical, anti-septic analysis of the two battles of Fallujah. The book was very Pro American and Coalition based, which one would expect. More than once we were reminded in the book that the bad guys who were being dusted were criminals, thugs, malcontents, terrorists, ne'er do wells, high school misfits, etc. As always when dehumanizing the enemy to make it easier to "neutralize" them we have to believe they possess no redeemable qualities. Of course, what is not written is they think the exact same stuff of us, we just write the books.
Even their success are written off as either blind luck or some idiot savant, "uncanny ability" to understand and perform Information Operations, for example, which is basically telling bigger lies than the enemy and turining the media conversation your way.
Overall though, it is a pretty interesting read. Again, the true heroes are the individual men and women who have the boots on the ground, not the bigger Military-Indistrial complex that exists and is bigger than us all.
Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2016
I really enjoyed this book, The first coup!e of chapters were a little slow but necessary. The rest of the book was hard to put down, Very educational information & combat of Iraq from beginning to end,
The news coverage of the wars in Iraq seemed very managed and controlled at the time, so I've always wanted to read more than the Official Version(s) we've been given over the years. This is a straightforward account of the battle of Falluja, told very much from the US viewpoint, and the US Marines' in particular. Fair enough - they did the majority of the fighting - but you won't find much in the book looking beyond the immediate matters of how the city was besieged and the "bad guys" driven out.
The first half of the book is concerned with the background and build up to the major offensive that became the Second Battle of Falluja. In detailing the make up of the US forces there are more acronyms than you can shake an AK47 at & a general mass of military terminology. After a while I tired of turning to the glossary at the front of the book & speed read until we got to the action.
The accounts of the fighting are well delivered, and certainly dispel any notion that the US military's preferred method of fighting is maximum destruction from maximum distance. The fighting in Falluja was more like Stalingrad at times, street to street, house to house, room to room. Some of the descriptions of the in-house fighting are really scary, where something like a hallway or flight of stairs can become a deadly killing ground.
There are a few stylistic and cultural glitches. I found the author's need to write "BOOM!" in the text practically every time a grenade goes off to be a bit silly, and references to "man dresses" are a bit childish too. It's a problem in a book like this, which is very much presented from one side of the fight as to how you show the enemy. Sure, we know Al Qaeda & Isis are thoroughly bad news - tho funnily enough the author does concede that some of their units are proper soldiers in uniform and so on - but surely the majority of fighters were simply resisting the invasion of their country by a foreign force, as would be normal in any invaded nation? Equally, its a lot easier to justify mass destruction if one first demonizes the enemy as sub-human, drug crazed, and mindlessly fanatical.
It'd be easy to be wise after the event & pick holes in the book on the basis of everything that's happened since, with no sign of the endless Middle Eastern wars reaching any kind of conclusion. However, it would be good to see a bit more acknowledgement of the complete absence of WMD and the apparent absence of any real plan for post-war & post Saddam reconstruction.
In the end, good old Edwin Starr summed it up all those years ago, "War - what is it good for?" There are some amazing tales here of bravery and sacrifice, but has the situation really improved in the 15+ years since then?