DEATH GROUND by Daniel P. Bolger


Today's American Infantry in Battle
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A rambling, jingoistic account of the various adventures of America’s ground infantry, by a US army colonel and infantry brigade commander with a doctorate in history from the University of Chicago (Savage Peace: Americans at War in the 1990s, 1995). Bolger uses the various military operations of the recent past (Panama, Somalia, the Gulf War) to look at the forms of infantry and the ways in which they have served in combat. With chapters such as “Death from Above” (on paratroopers) and “Hell on Wheels” (motorized infantry), each looking at a different form of combat, Bolger fires military jargon so rapidly that few who have not graduated West Point will understand. Worse than the jargon is the fact that not until the very end of the book does the author do much to analyze how each form of combat is relevant to the broader mission of the military. Instead, he glories in the details of various military exploits and cheerleads the American forces (“Colonel John Sylvester’s Tigers demonstrated armored warfare at the doctoral level, administering a series of hard lessons to Iraqis on the receiving end”). Bolger does little to look at the less glorious challenges facing today’s infantry: challenges like limited pay, health risks (such as Gulf War Syndrome), and cutbacks in the military. Instead, the author offers detailed descriptions of the wide array of weapons available to his “grunts.” And he occasionally, but all too rarely, offers an exciting look at battle conditions, as he does for the Gulf War. Too much jargon for the layperson, too trivial for the amateur battlefield historian. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-89141-671-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Presidio/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1998


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