The first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress turns out to be an intelligent observer who hated what he saw and decided to do something about it.
Raised in a blue-collar Philadelphia family, Murphy pulled himself together after a misspent youth, joined the Army ROTC, attended Widener University School of Law and became the youngest professor at West Point. Teaching law to senior cadets, he stressed that no American is too powerful to be above the law—or to decide that someone else doesn’t deserve its protection. As examples, he maintains that both the army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule on homosexuality and the Bush administration’s policy of denying prisoners protection under the Geneva Convention fall below American standards of justice. Despite his position in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Murphy was a gung-ho soldier who underwent paratrooper training and joined the 82nd Airborne Division. Transferring to Iraq in 2003, he witnessed the chaos that ensued when the United States destroyed the infrastructure, dismissed Saddam Hussein’s officials and disbanded his army. Readers will share Murphy’s amazement at discovering the absence of a plan for following up the victory. There were far too few soldiers in the occupying force, and they were disgracefully ill-equipped for fighting an insurgency. Billions in reconstruction money, dispensed by American contractors to Iraqi subcontractors, vanished without a trace. Writing about the 82nd Airborne, the author has nothing but praise for its members, who sacrificed and sometimes died to bring security and honest government to their area despite clueless civilian superiors. He left the service, returned home and, in 2005, decided to run for Congress as a critic of the war. The book’s final third delivers a nuts-and-bolts account of his campaign, an uphill struggle in a conservative district against a ruthless, well-financed incumbent.
A unique attack on the war by an author who comes across as a genuine idealist.