4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Boyscouts Here
I'm glad to read a story about the Marines that is uncensored - with the high expectations of the American people set by the greatest generation that ever lived I found it impossible to live up to Steven Spielberg's version of "Band of Brothers". Being a Marine in 1st Recon Bn, Evan Wright's interpretation of our daily lives and experiences are extremely...
Published on June 24 2004 by Antonio J Espera
3.0 out of 5 stars Elias and Barnes in Iraq
Despite the books claim to define a generation, it is actually a loosly chronological retelling of the situations and tactics of a few platoons 'on the tip of the spear' in the recent Iraq war.The only well defined characters in the book are the leaders of the units, nicknamed Iceman and Captain America, who play off each other like a 21st century Elias and Barnes from...
Published on July 10 2004 by Paul A. Mcdowell
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Boyscouts Here,
I'm glad to read a story about the Marines that is uncensored - with the high expectations of the American people set by the greatest generation that ever lived I found it impossible to live up to Steven Spielberg's version of "Band of Brothers". Being a Marine in 1st Recon Bn, Evan Wright's interpretation of our daily lives and experiences are extremely accurate. While reading the book almost a year later I had forgotten some of the details of my own experiences that Wright brought back to life. It was almost like I was living through the war again. Simply put, if you want to know what it is like to be a Marine during this campaign there is no better book at this time. It seems to me that Evan Wright was influenced by nothing but the experiences and the personalities that he absorbed during the war. No one is over exaggerated.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate and instructive,
I was a Recon Marine (Bravo Co. 3rd. Plt.) in the first Gulf War and Somalia. I look at this book from the distance of time, for my own experience, and with a history degree to reflect upon. The Marines have not changed much, nor has the command structure. There were good officers and enlisted men, and bad ones. The bad ones being deadly by the nature of the work. Yet, when you go to war you are stuck with what you have. First and foremost Wright illustrates that maxim of war.
Secondly, Wright, if he follows up on the consequences, shows the dillema of a journalist being too close to the war. He is embedded with his subjects and the story himself. For me, he did an outstanding job of staying objective about the chaos and slaughter of war. As well, he shows the American Fighting Man for all the things that he is. Some do not want to hear it but many Marines do look forward to war and that does not change after the first round goes off. But Wright does, in a way, become one of the boys. However, he could not have gotten this story if he had not, Recon Marines tend to not like reporters because they usually get portrayed as ninja like Rambos, which is unreal.
Of course, Wright made a few errors on military details, which an editor should have caught. Reporters of military actions should know more about the military: the structure, rank, equipment and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There are at least a few remarks in the book for which some Marines may unfortunately regret. I don't think journalists should edit themselves but greater care is given to other confidential sources.
Wright got his boots dirty and saw a piece of the military that America has chosen not to look at. This book is true to the American Marine who has to go to war with less than perfect conditions and make decisions that few other humans have to consider.
Semper Fi! (The God Father always had a rhaspy voice.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True but sad,
I was with Third Recon in Vietnam. This book is the only real description I have read about the full Recon experience. This is war. Some valor Some horror Today I will buy ten copies of this book and pass them out to people. If you want to know me, read this book that is what I will tell people. I was in Vietnam for a year doing this. How were any of us supposed to have survived? For once our story gets out almost forty years after my time in Vietnam. I will be a Recon ranger till the day I die. Somebody wrote the truth in this book. God help the next generation. We might have to hunt and fight the some of these middle easteran religious fanatics on our own land.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars finelook from a visitor to the Corps,
By A Customer
Evan wrote in firm prose...dancing his pen in and out of the cobwebs that sometimes clutter a tired sentries vision. He gave a Recon look at War as Chadz gave a infantry Marine's view at peacetime(Stand By to Fall Out). These two books together will allow a reader to travel to hell heaven and back with the Marines...maybe more drastically with Chadz as he was a Marine and wrote first person. Salutes to Evan...and there is still time to join!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Best account of either Iraq war,
This is certainly the best account of either Iraq war I've read. Those who've previously served will be gratified to find that, even today, the Marine Corps remains the elite service branch. Marines are still warriors. Marines still prize competence. And marines still train at every opportunity.
Evan Wright, a Rolling Stone reporter, embedded with a Marine Recon battalion operating at the spearhead of the Marine Corps advance to Baghdad and beyond, gets thoroughly assimilated into the platoon he's living among. He hero-worships the squad leaders, non-coms, the cold-eyed snipers, and the martial artist warriors. Some readers may think he is quite a bit taken in by the self images, the urban legends and the daily folklore of a macho world he finds impressive and intimidating, and with which he clearly yearns to identify, but he does convincingly portray a bunch of disparate young men from diverse backgrounds, some from the barrio and the jailhouse, some from affluent suburbs, who pretty much all do subscribe to the myth of the Marine Corps served up in the famous TV recruiting ad in which a knight in shining armor fights and slays a dragon, then morphs into a US Marine in dress blues saluting with the USMC mameluke sword. A surprising percentage of that Recon platoon enlisted because they saw that very ad (!).
The young marines talk the tough Marine Corps talk: "Question: What do you first feel when you accidentally shoot a civilian? Answer: Your rifle's recoil." But they nearly all do their best, and they are willing time and again to risk their own lives, to avoid inflicting civilian casualties. They manifestly feel a lot more than recoil when the accidents and mistakes inevitable in warfare occur. One of the main gripes of the rankers is US command's failure to make provision for adequate facilities and care for Iraqi prisoners of war and civilian casualties. Wright shows us US military forces behaving completely unlike the stereotypes found in the daily press.
Wright seemed sometimes more than a bit naive, but he does share, and can vividly describe, soldier's lives, discomforts, and the hazards of combat. He does a good job of explaining just how miserable it is to try to function in desert heat in one of the contemporary anti-gas outfits. Wright naturally recounts plenty of incidents illustrating war's horrors and brutality, but he can also explain some of its fascination, the way being shot at makes young men feel more alive, the way it makes the food taste better.
The author though does fail to recognize that enlisted men gossip incessantly, and that scuttlebutt about the incompetence, criminality, and dementia of individual officers and the reckless folly of all command decisions is ubiquitous in every service, and those kinds of stories and gripes need to be taken with a considerable grain of salt.
4.0 out of 5 stars So much to think about,
I flew through this book feeling like I was reading letters home from people I knew. I was fascinated by the characters, especially Espera, Reyes and Fick. I protested the war (and continue to) and have a hard time with the "support our troops" messages - the best way I can think of to support our troops is not to send them into unnecessary harm. This book gave me a lot to think about: the military as one of the only truly diverse (socially, economically, racially) institutions in America, the military as safety valve for angry young men, the question of how these guys will ever find civilian life stimulating enough, whether it's possible to train the world's best military and not have it be inevitable that they "get their chance to prove themselves" and, overwhelmingly, the relief at knowing how hard they try not to kill civilians and how bad they feel when they do. I heard an interview with Fick and Wright on NPR and while I'm glad Fick is no longer in harm's way (and hoping he's not one of the non-reservists being recalled to Iraq) I am glad that someone like him enlisted.
I understand the other reviewer's concern that the book wasn't fact checked enough but I disagree that it ruins the book. As it says in the book, most of the time the Marines only knew what was happening in their immediate vicinity - the style of the book replicated the powerlessness and anxiety of that feeling -- of not knowing what the bigger picture is and not being able to do anything to control it.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Face of Marine Recon in OIF,
Evan Wright has written an American classic in war time journalism. If you never serve in the military and want just a taste of action, this is the closest you can get without raising your right hand.
The 1st Recon Bn in OIF is used to make feints all along a string of towns leading to Baghdad to keep the enemy forces off balance and allow the main force components to make rapid progress. Evan Wright is there as a reporter, riding sometimes in the point vehicle even as it willfully goes into ambush situations time and time again. He notes the mannerisms of the Recon Marines around him, meticulously quoting some of the most hilarious statements and incongruous actions ever made by humans at the most innocous moments in combat. The level of competence, concern and attempts to do the "right thing" is reassuring. Alternatively, the tragedies, and mistakes due to incompetence and irresponsibility within one unit is at times excessively shocking. The overall humanizing factor was the portrayal that the Marine's themselves are so shocked by the acts they witness and at times engage in to survive in this combat zone.
For an authentic look at a USMC Recon Bn in battle and to gain some insight of day to day concerns of a small unit in a combat zone, "Generation Kill" delivers a gritty yet enthralling ride. One I could not put down. The five stars is definitely well earned.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not necessarily "accurate", but so what?,
After reading "Jarhead" I expected another couple of hours of angst and wierdness that doesn't necessarily relate to the experience of the 'Corps. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Mr. Wright captures the experience of the modern infantry marine very well. I beleive he does this simply by observing and writing from 'outside' the experience. Instead of a tale of false bravado, he relates the true experience of combat. In essence, confusion, error and chaos.
Had Wright done his homework later, and reinterviewed his subjects after the fact, he would have lost the effectiveness of this book. Research would've killed it in a flood of useless details that have nothing to do with what he's writing about. In these situations, you do not have the play-by-play. You do not have the big picture. It is true that Wright misses on some smaller points of weaponry and nomenclature. But what little this book suffers in accuracy, it gains in relating the true experience of these Marines.
This book will be compared to a bunch of other modern war stories. It will inevitably be compared to 'Jarhead'. Jarhead was good, because it captured some of the duality and angst of many of the younger Marines in the first Gulf War. But Jarhead was a cathartic exercise, focused inside the brain of a single individual. It's appeal is more to the people who actually lived through some of the events Swafford relates. Generation Kill is a better book about Marines in general, because it captures a cross-section of an elite Marine unit, from an outside perspective. One of the things both books try to tackle is the strange marriage of dysfunction and competence of the Corps. You will never see a stranger (or stronger) patchwork of personality and experience anywhere in the world.
I liked both books, but for very different reasons. If you are a veteran of the first Gulf War, you should certainly read both of them. If you are not, then don't waste your time with Jarhead, but read Generation Kill instead.
5.0 out of 5 stars A very admirable piece of wartime journalism,
By A Customer
Following in the footsteps of Black Hawk Down, Generation Kill is a brutally honest account of elite American soldiers in modern war. Evan Wright even surpasses Mark Bowden's work in that he had the opportunity to ride alongside the troops while the events described in this book were taking place. He relates most of the events in Generation Kill from a very personal first hand perspective, whereas Bowden had to research the battle of Mogadishu after the fact. One cannot help but admire Wright's commitment to this project. He rode right in front, at the focal point of firefights and ambushes, and never lost his courage to see it through to the end. In doing so, I believe he won many of the Marines' respect, which is probably a large reason why they opened up to him so much (altho I'm sure a few of them didn't mind being in the spotlight of Wright's story, either).
The unit involved in Generation Kill is the USMC's 1st Recon Battalion. Recon is a special commando type unit within the Marine Corps, surpassed in the pecking order only by its elite wing, known as Force Recon. Recon Marines share the same level of specialization and capability as many of the more generally well known American special ops units. By doctrine of training and mission parameters, they are somewhat of a cross between Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. 1st Recon Battalion was often spearheading the assault and dangling itself in front of the enemy to draw out ambushes during the OIF invasion. They operated very aggressively and willingly put themselves in some of the most dangerous situations faced by any unit during the war.
Generation Kill will undoubtedly prove to be one of the essential accounts of the OIF invasion, and a classic account of American war. What makes Wright's book so engrossing is the fact that it is brutally honest in its depiction of all aspects of 1st Recon's experience. He admires the Marines, but he does not glorify them. Some are idealistic men who believe in their mission. Some are stone cold killers (As one Marine chaplain puts it, the men in Recon "use Jesus as a door mat"). One particular marine sees himself as a "tool of the white man". In one instance they are struggling to give emergency medical aid to injured civilians. In another instance someone recites gangsta rap lyrics as he ecstatically sprays machine gun fire on the enemy. Although Wright praises 1st Recon's victories, he pulls no punches in relating some very serious mistakes and internal failings within the unit as well. There are several instances where innocent civilians are mistakenly killed in the fog of war. Some of the Marines seem to lose all confidence in their leadership. Many of the officers in 1st Recon are fine leaders who enjoy the trust and affection of their men. On the other hand, one company commander is a trigger happy glory hunter who would have his men search for random fights and conduct unauthorized raids rather than regroup with the battalion, as they were ordered. Then there's an officer in another company who turns out to be a sadistic imbecile, and his incompetence and instability in the field earns him the contempt of his men.
All in all, Evan Wright's perspective is detailed and truthful without being judgmental. He succeeds in creating an honest depiction and well rounded depiction of one unit's experience. Wright does not fabricate heroes, nor does he vilify the military. Generation Kill is an insightful account of modern war, and a valuable study of the internal dynamics of an American combat unit.
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering Look at Soldiers' Lives,
This fascinating look at life behind enemy lines is gripping, sobering and extremely well-written. It's hard to imagine the courage and fortitude it takes for a small band of soldiers to put their lives on the line in Iraq - and it's hard to believe the lengths to which journalist Evan Wright went for his story. You really get to care about the men he accompanies and can't help but rage at the frustrations, logistical errors and dangerous situations they encounter. Truly, Generation Kill is an excellent look at the current war in Iraq - personal, frightening, funny and suspenseful. Whether or not you support the war, this is an important book to read and to share with your friends and family. Often it seems as though journalists' stories are a bit self-serving, but Wright's experience is genuinely portrayed and the focus of the book is the brave company of men who are fighting to keep us free. This book is sure to win lots of awards - read it now to beat the rush!!!
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Generation Kill by Evan Wright (Paperback - Feb. 8 2005)
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