For soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division, the road to Baghdad began with a midnight flight out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in late February 2003. For Rick Atkinson, who would spend nearly two months covering the division for The Washington Post, the war in Iraq provided a unique opportunity to observe today's U.S. Army in combat. Now, in this extraordinary account of his odyssey with the 101st, Atkinson presents an intimate and revealing portrait of the soldiers who fight the expeditionary wars that have become the hallmark of our age.
At the center of Atkinson's drama stands the compelling figure of Major General David H. Petraeus, described by one comrade as "the most competitive man on the planet." Atkinson spent virtually all day every day at Petraeus's elbow in Iraq, where he had an unobstructed view of the stresses, anxieties, and large joys of commanding 17,000 soldiers in combat. Atkinson watches Petraeus wrestle with innumerable tactical conundrums and direct several intense firefights; he watches him teach, goad, and lead his troops and his subordinate commanders. And all around Petraeus, we see the men and women of a storied division grapple with the challenges of waging war in an unspeakably harsh environment.
With the eye of a master storyteller, the premier military historian of his generation puts us right on the battlefield. In the Company of Soldiers is a compelling, utterly fresh view of the modern American soldier in action.
A West Point graduate, a former star quarterback who carried Army to its first bowl victory, and a courageous warrior who had proven himself on the battlefield time and again, Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman was one of the most celebrated officers in the United States military. He commanded more than eight hundred soldiers in the heart of the insurgency-ravaged Sunni Triangle in Iraq, and his unit's job was to seek out and eliminate terrorists and loyalists to Saddam Hussein, while simultaneously rebuilding the region's infrastructure and introducing democratic processes to a broken people. Sassaman's tactics were highly aggressive, his methods innovative, and his success in Iraq nearly unparalleled.
Yet Sassaman will always be known for a fateful decision to cover up the alleged drowning of an Iraqi by his men, in which they purportedly forced two detainees to jump into the Tigris River. The army initially charged three soldiers with manslaughter and a fourth with assault---the first time troops who served in Iraq have been charged with a killing in connection with the handling of detainees. Sassaman's decision led to his downfall, despite an impressive career, and sent shock waves through the American military.
This controversial decision goes to the heart of the complex fight in Iraq, where key army leaders betray one another, politics in the war room leads to lost lives on the battlefield, and enemy factions routinely sabotage U.S. efforts, making success difficult for American commanders on the battlefield.
Warrior King is the explosive memoir of one of the most deeply involved members of the U.S. military in Iraq. This is the first book to take readers from the overnight brutality of combat to the daunting daytime humanitarian tasks of rebuilding Iraq to the upper echelons of the Pentagon to show how and why the war has gone horribly wrong.
Fifteen months later, the soldiers returned home forever changed. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Finkel was with them in Bagdad, and almost every grueling step of the way.
What was the true story of the surge? And was it really a success? Those are the questions he grapples with in his remarkable report from the front lines. Combining the action of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down with the literary brio of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, The Good Soldiers is an unforgettable work of reportage. And in telling the story of these good soldiers, the heroes and the ruined, David Finkel has also produced an eternal tale—not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.