Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq Hardcover – Sep 1 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
This account of one reporter's month with the 82nd Airborne Division is both a conservative polemic and a vivid portrait of American infantrymen in action. Zinsmeister, who was embedded with the army as a correspondent for The National Review, makes no bones about his unabashed support for the war, and for the American military in general. (He tells readers that he's always taught his own children "to think of military jet noise as 'the sound of freedom.'") The prospect of spending time rubbing shoulders with soldiers in the trenches clearly delights him even before he touches down on Iraqi soil. There is humor in the Zinsmeister's account of bartering for gear in Kuwait's "Body Armor Bazaar," and he provides useful insights into how many of the non-combat operations are actually performed by private civilian contractors. One of the best moments in the book movingly recounts how an Iraqi doctor worked with American soldiers to try to save a wounded boy, yet still refused to tell Zinsmeister his name for fear that his cooperation would draw reprisals later on. The author also gives heartening evidence of the genuine care taken by the troops to avoid civilian casualties. (Less agreeable is his evidence that guerrilla warfare was in full cry even before the formal end of the war.) But readers interested in this information should be prepared to wade through pages and pages of splenetic rants against the anti-war movement and Zinsmeister's fellow journalists, whom he dubs "left-wing, cynical, wiseguy Ivy League types." Such flaws, unfortunately, are not entirely redeemed by the book's outstanding array of color photographs.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Karl Zinsmeister's splendid report from within the maelstrom of combat demonstrates how the public can benefit when America's superb military is closely observed by a superb reporter."
--George F. Will, news columnist
"A fast-moving story of courage and competence, written by an observer who offers a far different picture from what was presented by our mainstream media. A moving tribute to what free soldiers united in a common cause can accomplish."
--Victor Davis Hanson, military historian
“The finest, most objective piece of war journalism I’ve read since Ernie Pyle in WWII. Tells the story after talking to all grades of soldiers. No one else took time to tell the full story.”
--Burton Poole, Lt. Col., USAF, Retired
“The most powerfully real ‘war experience’ I will probably ever have. I applaud its insight, voluminous factual information, the personal stories collected from many soldiers, and especially the discoveries about the power of love in extreme life and death situations. Karl Zinsmeister has done an invaluable service to America in getting to the heart and soul of this war.”
--Mary Lavato, a soldier’s mother
Top Customer Reviews
However, he spent far too much time telling us how much he admired these guys and not enough saying what they were doing. And then the last quarter of the book is simple philosophizing and politicizing for my tastes. I agree with all his sentiments, but I was hoping for more about the war and less about that.
I got the impression that he ran out of things to say that were worth while and needed to pad the book so it would be a bit thicker.
It's a quick read, I finished it in a day with a lot of breaks and only an hour here and there.
I suspect Zinzmeister kept his best writing for the periodical that sent him out there. Or I hope so anyway, because the anecdotes he shared here really only fill one or two short chapters, or magazine articles.
If you're expecting a thorough look at the war reveiwing what the 82nd Airborne were doing and when they were doing it, and how it all related to other units, you won't find it here. I'm hoping a more thorough account will be found elsewhere. Don't waste your time on this half-hearted attempt.
After serving for 5 years with the 3/325 - it always struck me how so many different people could be drawn from so many disparate backgrounds and still work so *well* together.
If Zinmeister's book does one thing well - it captures this aspect of life as a paratrooper.
There are other Gulf-War 2.0 books out there that are better - but I enjoyed the authors sincere respect for the men - and his obvious desire to relate to them on an individual basis. So many writers focus on the command staff - and forget the rank and file that give the All American's their color, strength, and tenacity.
There are times where you get the feeling that the author is being a bit of a tool for the conservative, republican mindset - but it comes and goes.
A *longer* book might have allowed him to develop things a little more - but a longer book would have required and longer war - and I think we're all going to be happy when we don't have to deal with *that*
The only reason why it did not get the full 5 Stars in my review was how he placed the 82nd at the top of America's Fighting Forces. At the beginning of the book he stated as fact that the 82nd can deploy faster than a Marine Expeditionary Unit which was probably based more on the 82nd Troopers boasts than reality. It is a known fact that MEU's deploy quicker being that they are usually in the region on ships for that one reason. Another insinuation that the author made was that the Marines suffered heavier losses in Nasirya perhaps because of their lack of training in urban warfare. Also pointing out the lack of casualties of troopers in Samawah was due to their superior training. In fact the Battle at Nasirya was a lot fiercer than Samawah by everyones account of the war. I believe that the author fell in love with the 82nd, which was fine, but that should not cause him to put in print accusations and boasts without checking facts.
I do however love his portrayal of the media and their lack of respect towards the military.
Most recent customer reviews
This was highly recommended to me by some pilots and soldiers I know who actually served in Iraq, so I decided to try it.
Now I see why they like it. A dynamic read. Read more
I suspect this book will have a classic appeal for many years among any Americans interested in knowing just what it is like to be under fire in combat. Read morePublished on July 8 2004
The author works very hard at giving the reader a feel for the action, an "I was there" impression of actual combat and what was going on in his book. Read morePublished on May 12 2004 by JerryT
If your looking for a high-level review of the strategy or tactics of the Iraq War -- look elsewhere. Read morePublished on April 23 2004 by T. Weaver
this book explains nothing for the tactics involved and why certain objectives needed to be met. book is weak in story with only a third of the book covering the war.Published on April 9 2004
First-class reportage on one of the most distorted stories of recent years. Zinsmeister is editor of The American Enterprise, a right-of-center intellectual journal, and he makes... Read morePublished on March 19 2004 by JR Dunn
I just returned from Iraq with the unit featured in this book (2d Brigade Combat Team 82d Airborne Divsion). I was there from Kuwait City to Baghdad and back. Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2004
Oh, how I LOVED this book! Zinsmeister makes me so grateful to be an American! He lists blessings that we Americans have that I never thought to be appreciative of. Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2004