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Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq Hardcover – Sep 1 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Truman Talley Books; First Edition edition (Sept. 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312326637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312326630
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.5 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 503 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,706,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.


Early Praise for Boots on the Ground

"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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is basically a joke. Zinsmeister can't tell a story to save his life. It got plenty of gushing reviews from people that were in or supported the war, mostly because he spends so much time telling them that they're right. If you take out the filler where he's babbling about bravery and righteousness, there's nothing left. He obviously was in some hairy situations but none of that comes across in the book. At one point they spend like half a day patching up some shrapnelled Iraqi kid and his description is barely a page with no friggin' details! No color! Conservative and boring shouldn't have to go hand in hand but here they do like clockwork. Zinsmeister must not have played any team sports in high school because another quarter of the book is devoted to his awe at the camaraderie among the troops. The way they joke around and rib on each other is just amazing and hilarious!!!! The author is so hard up for this war and its soldiers and you know he's dying to get a gun and go running through the streets of Baghdad spewing lead but he can't. This book has two things: a weak account of thirty days in the sand and a sad portrait of an impotent, armchair, Ivy League warmonger. Save your money and wait for a real soldier to come back and tell his tale. There's a reason why there are 40 used copies of this selling for $5.
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Format: Hardcover
Zinsmeister has a great attitude, and had a fantastic experience. He emphasis on the character and manliness of the soldiers he met was laudatory.
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.
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By A Customer on March 28 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a cadet at West Point, who is intending on going to the 82nd Airborne when I am commissioned, I was terribly dissapointed in this book. The author in this book does not tell a story of the 82nd Airborne. The book is more full of his personal life, and his political views on the war. Out of 213 pages, I would say that only about 60 of them are really about the people he met and the events he witnessed. The rest of the book is him detailing his life (much of it at home in New York), bragging about how he is right in his justification for the war, and how hard it was for him to get time to write his stories. He writes more about the time he spent writing, than he does anything else. It is so obvious that he felt that he had become a soldier. He tells of how he "was instructed on the use of the M-9," and the picture of him is in U.S. Army desert cammo. This guy is a joke. I would agree with what a previous reviewer wrote; the author may have been in some dicey situations, but there are no details of the events, it is all boring. Most of the information that he writes about involving what happened in Iraq is just headlines that were already told in the news, and almost all of those don't even include the 82nd. The bottom line is that this is a horrible book written by a horrible author who seems to think that he was transformed into a soldier.
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Format: Hardcover
I think the best thing about this book is that the author took a sincere effort to detail both the diversity of not only the Army as a whole - but also the sheer complexity of the soldiers that serve with the 82nd Airborne.
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*
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By A Customer on Jan. 23 2004
Format: Hardcover
The author does the 82nd proud with this book. This book is a tribute to the men that fought in the Iraq War with the 82nd.
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.
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