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Publisher's Summary

This is the story of a small group of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's fabled 502nd Infantry Regiment - a unit known as the Black Heart Brigade. Deployed in late 2005 to Iraq's so-called Triangle of Death, a veritable meat grinder just south of Baghdad, the Black Hearts found themselves in arguably the country's most dangerous location at its most dangerous time. Hit by near-daily mortars, gunfire, and roadside bomb attacks, suffering from a particularly heavy death toll, and enduring a chronic breakdown in leadership, members of one Black Heart platoon - 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion - descended, over their year-long tour of duty, into a tailspin of poor discipline, substance abuse, and brutality.

Four 1st Platoon soldiers would perpetrate one of the most heinous war crimes U.S. forces have committed during the Iraq War - the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the cold-blooded execution of her and her family. Three other 1st Platoon soldiers would be overrun at a remote outpost - one killed immediately and two taken from the scene, their mutilated corpses found days later booby-trapped with explosives.

Black Hearts is an unflinching account of the epic, tragic deployment of 1st Platoon. Drawing on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews with Black Heart soldiers and first-hand reporting from the Triangle of Death, Black Hearts is a timeless story about men in combat and the fragility of character in the savage crucible of warfare. But it is also a timely warning of new dangers emerging in the way American soldiers are led on the battlefields of the 21st century.

©2010 Jim Frederick (P)2013 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Harrowing account of the atmospherics, commission and aftermath of a war crime.... A riveting picture of life outside the wire in Iraq, where '[y]ou tell a guy to go across a bridge, and within five minutes he's dead." ( Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

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Sadness

In a word, this piece of history deeply saddens my heart. It angers me the Green took his own life. However, I welcome the idea that God will punish him for his actions and in that I find content. This is an incredible story and solidified how messed up the Army is and the type of leadership it fosters.

As a Marine, I know we are also not exempt from such horrible acts, but I can’t help but think of how many tools we are given and the standard we hold ourselves to lessons the chances of this sort of event from occurring.

In the end, the horrible and tragic event of this book rests on the shoulders of the four weak men who do not deserve any title as a Warrior or Soldier. With that said, the Bn, and Co leadership failed these men by allowing the environment to fall into decent with toxic and an intolerant environment.

I find two other things very disgusting besides the focus of this book. One, I cannot believe the Army Promoted the Bn CO to Colonel. This man should have been fired and forced to retire. He is garbage and by no means a leader! The second, is the fact the jury did not give him the death penalty.

My conclusion is not based on emotion. All four should have been executed for their actions. They stole and destroyed the lives of more than just four people that day. Green got off easy. His suicide shows how weak he really was. I hope to see him in hell!

Short of that, this book is well written and narrated. Often times, the writing took me back to my 2003 and 2004 deployments to Iraq. To the author, thank you for telling throw story. Thank you for showing the toxic environment created by very shitty men and what they call leadership. There were very good leaders discussed in this book who did the best they could with what they were allowed to do, and the tools given. Col Kunk and SgtMaj Edwards were also villains in this story.

Semper Fi!

1 person found this helpful

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lengthy recap, no stated lessons learned

Would like to see a follow on that analyzes leadership mistakes and provides effective solutions. The reader is left to think most of it over, and it is frustrating to see the lack of ownership up and down. Would like more perspectives from higher ups on the inside of the story and those on the outside that could provide examples of what they did differently to solve certain problems.

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oof

That is a heavy read/listen. The author does an amazing job putting you there with the Soldiers and hits really hard. The book gives some amazing insights on good and bad leadership, the human mind, and the traumatic realities of war.

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Real life story of combat soldiers

An awesome story of the real life stress of our fighting forces and the consequences of poor planning and leadership by our politicians and the failings of the chain of command. One of the titles on the Commandant of the Marine Corps reading list.
Very well written and performed.

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Horrible Story, but an Excellent Listen

I'm not prior military, so I have a lot of questions for my current and former military friends. There's a lot I can empathize with and a lot I can't. The one thing that's crystal clear is that bad leaders do more damage and ruin more lives than a bullet.

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great book

loved the book the story and the narration crazy how sick some people are and hopfully this shows that not all army personal are all mighty and perfect alot are racists and don't care about anything or anyone but themselves hopfully thos who are prison stay and it eats at them for life

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Heart wrenching but enlightening story

Jim Frederick captured unbelievable information and delivered an unforgettable story backed by years of careful research. One of the most horrific but telling stories I have read, this book will provide you with historical knowledge of the Iraq war and examples of leadership failure military leaders must vehemently avoid. Amazing narration and story. Would listen to multiple times.

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Real military life

This book does a great job of outlining how one man with a lot of power can ruin the lives of so many. The lower enlisted will always be a scape goat for those higher up and even though each man is responsible for their own actions, it could have all been avoided by firing the man at the head of the snake

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Looking for more

Started slow for me, but sucked me in and kept me wanting more. I had to read/ Listen to this for professional development. I was reluctant at first, but soon the story kept me interested

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excellent book

it grabs you and keeps you entertained. highly recommended as a book to listen to on the way to work or school.