No True Glory: Fallujah and the Struggle in Iraq: A Frontline Account

Penguin Random House Audio

Narrated by Robertson Dean

13 hr 24 min
1

“This is the face of war as only those who have fought it can describe it.”—Senator John McCain
 
Fallujah: Iraq’s most dangerous city unexpectedly emerged as the major battleground of the Iraqi insurgency. For twenty months, one American battalion after another tried to quell the violence, culminating in a bloody, full-scale assault. Victory came at a terrible price: 151 Americans and thousands of Iraqis were left dead.
 
The epic battle for Fallujah reveals the startling connections between policy and combat that are a part of the new reality of war.
 
The Marines had planned to slip into Fallujah “as soft as fog.” But after four American contractors were brutally murdered, President Bush ordered an attack on the city—against the advice of the Marines. The assault sparked a political firestorm, and the Marines were forced to withdraw amid controversy and confusion—only to be ordered a second time to take a city that had become an inferno of hate and the lair of the archterrorist al-Zarqawi.
 
Based on months spent with the battalions in Fallujah and hundreds of interviews at every level—senior policy makers, negotiators, generals, and soldiers and Marines on the front lines—No True Glory is a testament to the bravery of the American soldier and a cautionary tale about the complex—and often costly—interconnected roles of policy, politics, and battle in the twenty-first century.
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Publisher
Penguin Random House Audio
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Published on
Sep 27, 2005
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Duration
13h 24m 15s
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ISBN
9781415928622
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Iraq War (2003-2011)
History / Military / Strategy
History / Modern / 20th Century
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Eligible for Family Library

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Amid ferocious fighting that many times nearly took his life, Sergeant Dillard "C. J." Johnson and his crew are recognized by Pentagon reports to have accounted for astonishing enemy KIA totals while battling inside and out of the "Carnivore," the Bradley Fighting Vehicle Johnson commanded during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After miraculously beating stage-three cancer (caused by radiation exposure from firing armor-piercing depleted-uranium rounds during combat), he returned to his platoon in Baghdad for a second tour, often serving as a sniper protecting his fellow troops. Today, Johnson and his men's story is the stuff of legend—earning them a cover story in Soldier of Fortune and a display in the Fort Stewart Museum. But only now is Johnson telling his full story: reviewed and approved for publication by the Department of Defense, Carnivore is the gripping and unflinchingly honest autobiography of a remarkable American warrior.

"The estimated enemy KIAs for Staff Sergeant Johnson’s BIFV [Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle] during this fight [22 March, 2003] was 488. The informal estimate from the troop was that Johnson and his crew killed at least 1,000 Iraqis on 23 March. Later in the move north, Johnson engaged and destroyed 20 trucks and tallied 314 KIAs in the vicinity of An Najaf. At Objective FLOYD, Johnson’s platoon fought yet another bitter fight against what they claim was a thousand paramilitary troops. ... Events were corroborated by separate interviews with the remainder of C/3-7 CAV, to include the troop commander." —On Point: The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the official study of the 2003 invasion commissioned by the U.S. Army Chief of Staff

While the seventy-seven-day siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968 remains one of the most highly publicized clashes of the Vietnam War, scant attention has been paid to the first battle of Khe Sanh, also known as “the Hill Fights.” Although this harrowing combat in the spring of 1967 provided a grisly preview of the carnage to come at Khe Sanh, few are aware of the significance of the battles, or even their existence. For more than thirty years, virtually the only people who knew about the Hill Fights were the Marines who fought them. Now, for the first time, the full story has been pieced together by acclaimed Vietnam War historian Edward F. Murphy, whose definitive analysis admirably fills this significant gap in Vietnam War literature. Based on first-hand interviews and documentary research, Murphy’s deeply informed narrative history is the only complete account of the battles, their origins, and their aftermath.

The Marines at the isolated Khe Sanh Combat Base were tasked with monitoring the strategically vital Ho Chi Minh trail as it wound through the jungles in nearby Laos. Dominated by high hills on all sides, the combat base had to be screened on foot by the Marine infantrymen while crack, battle-hardened NVA units roamed at will through the high grass and set up elaborate defenses on steep, sun-baked overlooks.

Murphy traces the bitter account of the U.S. Marines at Khe Sanh from the outset in 1966, revealing misguided decisions and strategies from above, and capturing the chain of hill battles in stark detail. But the Marines themselves supply the real grist of the story; it is their recollections that vividly re-create the atmosphere of desperation, bravery, and relentless horror that characterized their combat. Often outnumbered and outgunned by a hidden enemy—and with buddies lying dead or wounded beside them—these brave young Americans fought on.

The story of the Marines at Khe Sanh in early 1967 is a microcosm of the Corps’s entire Vietnam War and goes a long way toward explaining why their casualties in Vietnam exceeded, on a Marine-in-combat basis, even the tremendous losses the Leathernecks sustained during their ferocious Pacific island battles of World War II.

The Hill Fights is a damning indictment of those responsible for the lives of these heroic Marines. Ultimately, the high command failed them, their tactics failed them, and their rifles failed them. Only the Marines themselves did not fail. Under fire, trapped in a hell of sudden death meted out by unseen enemies, they fought impossible odds with awesome courage and uncommon valor.
Battalion 3/5 suffered the highest number of casualties in the war in Afghanistan. This is the story of one platoon in that distinguished battalion.
 
Aware of U.S. plans to withdraw from the country, knowing their efforts were only a footprint in the sand, the fifty Marines of 3rd Platoon fought in Sangin, the most dangerous district in all of Afghanistan. So heavy were the casualties that the Secretary of Defense offered to pull the Marines out. Instead, they pushed forward. Each Marine in 3rd Platoon patrolled two and a half miles a day for six months—a total of one million steps—in search of a ghostlike enemy that struck without warning. Why did the Marines attack and attack, day after day?  
 
Every day brought a new skirmish. Each footfall might trigger an IED. Half the Marines in 3rd Platoon didn’t make it intact to the end of the tour. One Million Steps is the story of the fifty brave men who faced these grim odds and refused to back down. Based on Bing West’s embeds with 3rd Platoon, as well as on their handwritten log, this is a gripping grunt’s-eye view of life on the front lines of America’s longest war. Writing with a combat veteran’s compassion for the fallen, West also offers a damning critique of the higher-ups who expected our warriors to act as nation-builders—and whose failed strategy put American lives at unnecessary risk.
 
Each time a leader was struck down, another rose up to take his place. How does one man instill courage in another? What welded these men together as firmly as steel plates?
 
This remarkable book is the story of warriors caught between a maddening, unrealistic strategy and their unswerving commitment to the fight. Fearsome, inspiring, and poignant in its telling, One Million Steps is sure to become a classic, a unique and enduring testament to the American warrior spirit.
 
Praise for One Million Steps
 
“West shows the reality of modern warfare in a way that is utterly gripping.”—Max Boot, author of Invisible Armies
 
“A gripping, boot-level account of Marines in Afghanistan during the bloody struggle with Taliban fighters.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“One Million Steps transcends combat narrative: It is an epic of contemporary small-unit combat.”—Eliot A. Cohen, author of Supreme Command
 
“A blistering assault on America’s senior military leadership.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“A heart-pounding portrayal . . . a compelling account of what these men endured.”—The Washington Post
 
“Stunning, sobering, and brilliantly written.”—Newt Gingrich
 
“One of the most intrepid military journalists, Bing West, delivers a heart-wrenching account of one platoon’s fight.”—Bill Bennett, host of Morning in America
 
“Bing West has reconfirmed his standing as one of the most intrepid and insightful observers of America’s wars. . . . One Million Steps reveals the essence of small-unit combat, the very soul of war.”—The Weekly Standard
 
“A searing read, but it is one that all Americans should undertake. We send our sons into battle, and few know what our warriors experience.”—The Washington Times
“The story of what Dakota did . . . will be told for generations.”—President Barack Obama, from remarks given at Meyer’s Medal of Honor ceremony

In the fall of 2009, Taliban insurgents ambushed a patrol of Afghan soldiers and Marine advisors in a mountain village called Ganjigal. Firing from entrenched positions, the enemy was positioned to wipe out one hundred men who were pinned down and were repeatedly refused artillery support. Ordered to remain behind with the vehicles, twenty-one year-old Marine corporal Dakota Meyer disobeyed orders and attacked to rescue his comrades.
           
With a brave driver at the wheel, Meyer stood in the gun turret exposed to withering fire, rallying Afghan troops to follow. Over the course of the five hours, he charged into the valley time and again. Employing a variety of machine guns, rifles, grenade launchers, and even a rock, Meyer repeatedly repulsed enemy attackers, carried wounded Afghan soldiers to safety, and provided cover for dozens of others to escape—supreme acts of valor and determination. In the end, Meyer and four stalwart comrades—an Army captain, an Afghan sergeant major, and two Marines—cleared the battlefield and came to grips with a tragedy they knew could have been avoided. For his actions on that day, Meyer became the first living Marine in three decades to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
 
Into the Fire tells the full story of the chaotic battle of Ganjigal for the first time,  in a compelling, human way that reveals it as a microcosm of our recent wars. Meyer takes us from his upbringing on a farm in Kentucky, through his Marine and sniper training, onto the battlefield, and into the vexed aftermath of his harrowing exploits in a battle that has become the stuff of legend. 
 
Investigations ensued, even as he was pitched back into battle alongside U.S. Army soldiers who embraced him as a fellow grunt. When it was over, he returned to the States to confront living with the loss of his closest friends. This is a tale of American values and upbringing, of stunning heroism, and of adjusting to loss and to civilian life.
 
We see it all through Meyer’s eyes, bullet by bullet, with raw honesty in telling of both the errors that resulted in tragedy and the resolve of American soldiers, U.S.Marines, and Afghan soldiers who’d been abandoned and faced certain death. 
 
Meticulously researched and thrillingly told, with nonstop pace and vivid detail, Into the Fire is the true story of a modern American hero.
 
“Sergeant Meyer embodies all that is good about our nation’s Corps of Marines. . . . [His] heroic actions . . . will forever be etched in our Corps’ rich legacy of courage and valor.”—General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A clear-eyed account of learning how to lead in a chaotic world, by General Jim Mattis—the former Secretary of Defense and one of the most formidable strategic thinkers of our time—and Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine.
 
Call Sign Chaos is the account of Jim Mattis’s storied career, from wide-ranging leadership roles in three wars to ultimately commanding a quarter of a million troops across the Middle East. Along the way, Mattis recounts his foundational experiences as a leader, extracting the lessons he has learned about the nature of warfighting and peacemaking, the importance of allies, and the strategic dilemmas—and short-sighted thinking—now facing our nation. He makes it clear why America must return to a strategic footing so as not to continue winning battles but fighting inconclusive wars.
 
Mattis divides his book into three parts: Direct Leadership, Executive Leadership, and Strategic Leadership. In the first part, Mattis recalls his early experiences leading Marines into battle, when he knew his troops as well as his own brothers. In the second part, he explores what it means to command thousands of troops and how to adapt your leadership style to ensure your intent is understood by your most junior troops so that they can own their mission. In the third part, Mattis describes the challenges and techniques of leadership at the strategic level, where military leaders reconcile war’s grim realities with political leaders’ human aspirations, where complexity reigns and the consequences of imprudence are severe, even catastrophic.
 
Call Sign Chaos is a memoir of a life of warfighting and lifelong learning, following along as Mattis rises from Marine recruit to four-star general. It is a journey about learning to lead and a story about how he, through constant study and action, developed a unique leadership philosophy, one relevant to us all.
Battalion 3/5 suffered the highest number of casualties in the war in Afghanistan. This is the story of one platoon in that distinguished battalion.
 
Aware of U.S. plans to withdraw from the country, knowing their efforts were only a footprint in the sand, the fifty Marines of 3rd Platoon fought in Sangin, the most dangerous district in all of Afghanistan. So heavy were the casualties that the Secretary of Defense offered to pull the Marines out. Instead, they pushed forward. Each Marine in 3rd Platoon patrolled two and a half miles a day for six months—a total of one million steps—in search of a ghostlike enemy that struck without warning. Why did the Marines attack and attack, day after day?  
 
Every day brought a new skirmish. Each footfall might trigger an IED. Half the Marines in 3rd Platoon didn’t make it intact to the end of the tour. One Million Steps is the story of the fifty brave men who faced these grim odds and refused to back down. Based on Bing West’s embeds with 3rd Platoon, as well as on their handwritten log, this is a gripping grunt’s-eye view of life on the front lines of America’s longest war. Writing with a combat veteran’s compassion for the fallen, West also offers a damning critique of the higher-ups who expected our warriors to act as nation-builders—and whose failed strategy put American lives at unnecessary risk.
 
Each time a leader was struck down, another rose up to take his place. How does one man instill courage in another? What welded these men together as firmly as steel plates?
 
This remarkable book is the story of warriors caught between a maddening, unrealistic strategy and their unswerving commitment to the fight. Fearsome, inspiring, and poignant in its telling, One Million Steps is sure to become a classic, a unique and enduring testament to the American warrior spirit.
 
Praise for One Million Steps
 
“West shows the reality of modern warfare in a way that is utterly gripping.”—Max Boot, author of Invisible Armies
 
“A gripping, boot-level account of Marines in Afghanistan during the bloody struggle with Taliban fighters.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“One Million Steps transcends combat narrative: It is an epic of contemporary small-unit combat.”—Eliot A. Cohen, author of Supreme Command
 
“A blistering assault on America’s senior military leadership.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“A heart-pounding portrayal . . . a compelling account of what these men endured.”—The Washington Post
 
“Stunning, sobering, and brilliantly written.”—Newt Gingrich
 
“One of the most intrepid military journalists, Bing West, delivers a heart-wrenching account of one platoon’s fight.”—Bill Bennett, host of Morning in America
 
“Bing West has reconfirmed his standing as one of the most intrepid and insightful observers of America’s wars. . . . One Million Steps reveals the essence of small-unit combat, the very soul of war.”—The Weekly Standard
 
“A searing read, but it is one that all Americans should undertake. We send our sons into battle, and few know what our warriors experience.”—The Washington Times
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