Recollections of action by U.S. Marines who fought in the Iraq War’s fiercest battle.
Military writer O’Donnell joined up partway through the battle for Fallujah with a unit from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and accompanied them through several days until the notorious Iraqi city, with its denizens of insurgent fighters, was pulverized. The bulk of the book, the author explains, is based on “corroborated oral history interviews which have been vetted.” They were gleaned principally from surviving members of the 1st Platoon, Lima Company, nominated by O’Donnell as the troops having “seen the worst” of what was obviously a horrendous experience for anyone involved—some 14 of its original 45 members were left standing at the close of hostilities. Given those definitive circumstances, it is clear that he writes for no purpose other than to reflect the fullest possible credit on the individuals he happened to be embedded with. They are portrayed as uniformly dedicated and patriotic, bonded by a hatred of the enemy mujahadin and the overriding desire to protect one another and do the Corps proud. Some “love combat,” while others have been able to overcome fear through indoctrination. The descriptions of urban warfare are graphic and grisly; most encounters result in at least one disfigured corpse (sometimes that of a Marine). A redundant line of justification reminds the reader that insurgents fight dirty, don’t follow any of the rules of war and use civilians as shields, and that Marines in Iraq are often handicapped by engagement rules stemming from biased or inaccurate media coverage, etc.
Clearly reflects valor and courage, but this is hardly “history” as most understand it.