- 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: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,427,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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
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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*
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.
The good is the middle of the book. When Zinsmeister is in the thick of things describing the soldiers, their stories or the day's action, the book shines. The bad is the beginning of the book where he leads us up to his deployment with the troops - it moves slowly and adds nothing. And the Ugly. During the last half of the book he goes off on how negatively the media is portraying the events in Iraq. He makes some very valid, salient points but they become clouded in his own opinions.
This book could have been a classic if Zinsmeister would have written solely about the soldier's lives and their experiences. Sandwiched in between this roller coaster of a book is the story of a bunch of brave individuals doing a job that needed to be done. A very quick read.Wait for paperback.
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