Fiery, insightful memoir from the former Iraqi translator who fought alongside U.S. Special Forces during the recent war in Iraq.
With the assistance of DeFelice (co-author: American Sniper, 2012, etc.) and writing as a first-time author under a protective pseudonym, “Johnny Walker,” this Mosul-born, pro-American Muslim Iraqi relates a sometimes-biased but invaluable insider’s perspective of Iraq after Saddam Hussein. After an undistinguished stint in the badly trained Iraqi army, the author made a decision early on in the 2003 conflict that to provide for his family, he would have to collaborate with the American occupying force. Although his initial attempts at obtaining work as a translator and adviser for the Americans were frustrated, he eventually caught on with the Navy SEALs. Quickly, he began to learn that being a translator also meant being a combat-ready soldier and risking his life. Things began to get seriously dangerous for “Johnny,” however, when his relationship with the American forces became well-known around Mosul, which made him a potential target for assassins. This pressure to both serve his American employers and still retain close ties to his own Iraqi community is what eventually drove him to pursue his dream of immigrating to America. Throughout the book, the author gives a vivid sense of what it’s like to be stuck geopolitically between a rock and a hard place: Iraqis like him rejected the tyrannical rule of Hussein but then had to endure the chaos of the destabilizing influence that the U.S.-led invasion wrought on the country. Although he defends the motives behind the American invasion, the question of whether this pre-emptive military action was an effective operation in the long run is a point he mostly evades until the end of the book. Ultimately, any national allegiances take a back seat to “Johnny’s” survival instincts. Eventually, the once-impossible dream of becoming an American citizen and bringing his family to the U.S. became a hard-won reality.
A harrowing personal journey of courageous self-empowerment during wartime.