Let me begin by explaining that I had no interest in military anything before I read this book. Not movies, not books, not men, nothing. The only reason I read it is because I saw the HBO miniseries Generation Kill and actually liked it. And the only reason I saw the miniseries is because my husband was watching it. And the only reason he was watching it is because he read the book and liked it. And he read the book because, well, he likes military stuff (let's keep that down to the movies and books categories though).
Anywho, back to the book. It is written by a Rolling Stones journalist (Evan Wright) who thought it would be fun to spend a couple of months with some reconnaissance Marines during the Iraq invasion in 2003. It sounds like, at least in theory, the recon Marines go ahead of the fighting units and, well, do reconnaissance. They aren't supposed to be seen or heard and shouldn't have any interactions with the locals, if all goes well. You can probably guess, however, that things didn't go as planned. In fact, the Marines of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion ended up on the front lines of fighting a lot of the time.
There are a lot of things that amazed me about this book. First of all, my eyes were opened to the day to day life of these marines, and I was amazed at how wrong my pre-conceived notions of the military actually were. I found the smallest details interesting, like what they ate and wore, and where they slept. Second, I was dumbstruck by the danger Wright was actually in by riding along with this battalion. And not just Wright, but the Marines he was with. This unit, sometimes the first to enter hostile territory, had nothing more than humvees that sounded relatively lacking in the armor department. Then there were issues of there not being enough ammunition or other supplies that ensured their weapons worked properly. Of course, there's also the small fact that the book is based on actual events, many of which we've all heard about in the news (remember the whole Jessica Lynch thing? That's in there.). If all that isn't enough, the Marines Wright encounters and writes about are really interesting and entertaining to read about.
If all that hasn't convinced you, let me remind you that the book was so good, HBO made a mini-series about it. And there's the fact that reading it actually set me on a military kick - after I read this book, I went on to read two more true-life military books. But to be perfectly clear, let me just say plainly, I highly recommend this book. It was eye-opening, entertaining, current, and shocking. It's one of my tops books for 2010.
The Hubs' take: "It was good, entertaining."
Posted by: Cathy