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In the tradition of Black Hawk Down and Jarhead comes a searing portrait of young men fighting a modern-day war.
A powerhouse work of nonfiction, Generation Kill expands on Evan Wright's acclaimed three-part series that appeared in Rolling Stone during the summer of 2003. His narrative follows the twenty-three marines of First Recon who spearheaded the blitzkrieg on Iraq. This elite unit, nicknamed "First Suicide Battalion," searched out enemy fighters by racing ahead of American battle forces and literally driving into suspected ambush points.
Evan Wright lived on the front lines with this platoon from the opening hours of combat, to the fall of Baghdad, through the start of the guerrilla war. He was welcomed into their ranks, and from this bird's-eye perspective he tells the unsettling story of young men trained by their country to be ruthless killers. He chronicles the triumphs and horrors-physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual-that these marines endured while achieving victory in a war many questioned before it began. Wright's book is a timely account of war; even more important, it is a timeless description of the human drama taking place on today's battlefields. Written with brutal honesty, raw intensity, and startling intimacy, Generation Kill is destined to become a classic and take its place in the canon of the most captivating and authentic works of war literature.
- Generation Kill Review... Read It
First to start off this book is probably not for kids or anyone who cannot handle violence, strong language or just plain out gore. This book is perfect for giving anyone who is interested in having a military career an idea of what it's like and what to expect. This book goes from really funny to really serious in an instant and can go back just as fast. While reading this book I hope you come to an understanding of what the soldiers in Iraq have to face every day to protect our freedom to do the things we all love the most. ...more info
- excellent book on OIF
excellent fast reading book by reporter with 1st Recon Bn in Marine Corps push from Nasiriyah to Baghdad. The author gives a fair picture of the young Marines and military in general although it is clear that Evan Wright has limited personal attachment to the Marine Corps.
- Generation Killed
The cover flaps do a great job of touting this book, calling it "brilliant journalism -- honest, raw and surprisingly intimate." The books is "destined to become a classic and take its place in the canon of the most captivating and authentic works of war literature."
This is mendacious tripe.
The author, described as a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, has a single literary technique, the simile, which he uses two or three times per page without necessarily supporting his theme. His first few pages gave glimpses of intelligent philosophy and structure, all of which is to be quickly doomed in chapter after chapter of nothing more than hour-by-hour reporting of the actions and banter of a few Marine platoons.
True, the book describes in faithful detail many of the hazards and traumas incident on battle, found in all other places -- jamming guns, facing greater numbers, plunging into the unknown, friendly fire engagements, regrets after civilian shooting, the personal needs and struggles of the soldiers, disorientation, and the burning curiosity whether superior orders are sensible or reckless.
Then again we face descriptions that rob the text of much of this hazard and trauma, revealing a 40-year-old author who is very much a teenager with a video game mentality. Shots rang out "like the cartoon bullets fired by Yosemite Sam." Tracer fire went back and forth "like a duel with glow-in-the-dark silly string." A posh Iraqi home with western fixtures is likened to the "manor of an east L.A. drug lord." Lastly, the rattle of metal in a particular engagement is "like [similes everywhere] someone in a laundromat put change in every dryer and turned them up high."
This is brilliant journalism? He writes in the unguarded and vulgar manner in which the men around him speak. Philosophy and battalion-regiment-division proceedings appear rarely, almost indifferently. There are far better books in the canon of war literature -- this should rightfully take its place at the bottom of the pile....more info
- A great few from the frontlines.
This is a must read. I couldn't put it down. It finished it in two days and I've gone back and read it again to make sure I didn't miss out on it since I went through it so quickly. It was great to see the soldier's experience and not the politicians view point. I'm sure there were still a lot of things that were left out due to censorship, but it was still a great read....more info
- First Person Reporting, We Could Use Some More
Hats off to Evan Wright for sticking it out with the Marines for the duration of the Invasion. His account is important and I do not mean in any way to discredit it. My only complaint is that it lacks some perspective. While it portrays some really sophmoric behavior by the Marines the same behavior could be observed on nearly any college campus (remember we are talking about young men mostly 18-24 years of age). A quote from one of the Marines is that, "We fought retarded." Yes, in some cases, but as is related in Nathaniel Fick's "One Bullet Away, The Making of a Marine Officer" individual Marines were striving to perform their jobs with ingenuity, valor and compassion. You lose sight of the fact that this book covers three months, a brilliantly vibrant snap shot of war. Wish there were more reporters like this over there. ...more info
- Speeding into Iraq with The Guys
"Generation Kill" is my favorite book on war in Iraq so far. It's a very real, warts and all, look at young men doing their best to get their job done under crazy conditions ranging from inane orders on their side to insane enemy combatants on the other. "Generation Kill" is a fun fast read that will make you think as well.
Two other good books on Iraq I recommend are "Shooter : The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper" and "Thunder Run". On the other hand avoid "Among Warriors in Iraq: True Grit, Special Ops, and Raiding in Mosul and Fallujah", it has writing so poor it'll give you a headache....more info
- The more things change
This account of 21st century warfare demonstrates that the more things change, the more they seem the same. Reading Wright's observations of Marines in Iraq reminds me of other books from other wars, such as "With The Old Guard at Pelelieu" in the Pacific or "One More Hill" from Korea. Obviously, the geography and the equipment are different, but the bonding among soldiers in combat has been a constant. We've seen many of Wright's characters before--the dedicated professional, the career opportunist, the young guys eager to show their stuff. The one aspect missing from many earlier accounts, especially in the Pacific of WW II, is interaction with civilians, many becoming tragic casualties in the confusion and fear of combat. It would have been interesting to learn whether superior officers corrected some of the more noteworthy problems (especially with poor unit-level leaders) but perhaps that's a story for another book. ...more info
- A must read!!
This book was originally spoke of highly by a friend of mine, and after reading it, I understand why. Having served in the armed forces for 3 years now, and having been to Iraq on two seperate tours, I can finally get a view of what the original mission these Marines went through during the first part of the war. Gruesome and exhausting are probably the best words to describe it. Wright does a magnificant job (hats off) telling in full detail what life was like and the hell they endured. I really reccomend this book to anyone with a knack for American history, regarding war. ...more info
- War at Ground Level
This is really a tremendous book. The author grabbed history, took a dangerous chance and ran with it, all the way to Bagdhad. Refreshingly (and unlike the book Jarhead) this group of soldiers saw plenty of action and Wright does a good job of showing the different personalities involved. His book shows how confusing battle can be and how poor the leadership is. Like any good story teller he personalizes the war and we come to see the boys of the unit he's attached to as three dimensional characters and not just name, rank and serial number. These guys are trained to be killing machines and so they kill everything in their path, including innocent civilians. The Marines are young, mere boys, indoctrinated to wage war and kill. But how do they handle the conflict within themselves over innocent lives lost? Wright digs deep and his expose is very moving. As a portent of things to come Wright describes the frustration the men feel in not being able to find and eliminate uniformed Iraqi's. Like now, they'd already melted into the cities to become more dangerous. This book is a must read. ...more info
- What a great read!
This was one of those books that I didn't want to put down until I'd finished it - and even then I wanted more! A "war book" is not something that I would usually choose to read, but this was more of a people book. Obviously those people were in a war, but it's Evan's personal approach to the writing that made this so interesting. The comraderie, humour and skill of the men he wrote about was fascinating and I was drawn in very quickly. I might add that the mini-series made from this book is well worth a look too. Fantastic stuff....more info
- 2-501st. good read.
My husband entered Iraq in June of 2003 shortly after the Marines in this book. He spent 15 months there as a Blackhawk crewchief and until I read this book I had NO idea the nightmare that he bear witness to. I would like to tell Mr. Evans how much I love his book and how much it opened my eyes to what my husband saw. He has not been able to talk about the things he saw or the things he did, much like Vietnam. It scares me, but after reading this book, I understand why he can not talk about it, why he can not remember. ...more info
- Relevant for college and graduate students -- Columbia School of Journalism Prize Winner
This book is NFBOWRO (Not for Buffs of War Writing Only). Neither is is FMO (For Men Only).
My female students love this book. So do the men. So do protesters and former and future soldiers in my classroom.
Has anyone who reviewed this book considered the national, critically significant prizes it has won? I strongly recommend it for college and graduate school students -- maybe even high schoolers who need to make informed decisions about their role in the world.
Teachers and professors of rhetoric and composition will find this account moving and useful to encourage debate and discussion. My college students, many of whom have lost friends and family in recent conflicts, really enjoyed this book that is graphic, honest, and does not take a side.
The language is graphic, but then so is Shakespeare! When my department grew concerned about the content, I reminded them that Wright's book won many prizes, including the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize from The Columbia School of Journalism and Harvard University (I think), as well as a PEN prize, and the Marine Heritage Society Award.
No matter what "side" the reader takes, the fact is that this account represents reporting at its best and writing that is as great as any fiction writer taught in upper level and graduate school literature classes. Wright is and will be a writer to watch....more info
- Hard Cover Genenration Kill
I really liked this book which gave me an idea what it was like in Iraq during the beginning of the war. The more current release of this book has more information as to what has since happen to the soldiers after serving their country....more info
- Funny - Open - Honest !
Reading about the Marines is always interesting, but who would think that reading about an embedded reporter at war could be as entertaining ?
Evan Wright tells a story of his time with a group of Recon Marines in an open, funny, and forthright manner - he portrays these young men at war as they really are - and he portrays his fears and concerns ( and theirs, when they give him an M-16 ! ) as he goes to war also.
If the liberal reader objects to either the book's language, it's friendly attitude towards the Marines, or any of it's other alledged biases, it's because they just learned the truth about how accurately the embeds portray these young men at war. ...more info
- Reading Generation Kill
The book was a very good insight to what is expected of this generations warriors. It was a easy and fast read for me....more info
- Can't put this book down when started.
This book should be made into a movie. Portrays Marines with the ability to show human spirit in a time of war and under stress of combat. Evan is right up there with Mark Bowden. Very very good book. ...more info
- A masterful telling of how the U.S. does it today.
***** Combat troops of all branches have, with few exceptions, e.g. Ernie Pyle and Bill Mauldin, little trust or regard for journalists. Having spent time in both camps, I side with my brothers and sisters at arms and understand why they are leery of these foreign beings spying on them. Therefore, I picked up "Generation Kill" with much skepticism. To my surprise, it wasn't what I had expected.
Evan Wright, a contributor to "Rolling Stone" and other journals, joins a United States Marine Corps Recon (Reconnaissance) Battalion and is attached at the platoon level or lower for their blitzkrieg drive through northern Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He endures what they endure and faces what they face with little, if any, more knowledge than they have of their situations. Wright captures the terror, the confusion, the fatigue, the stress, the bonding, the ennui, the bravery, the incompetence, and the soul-searching that are part of combat.
As a read, I found old comrades living on in this younger generation, but the conversations were similar to my generation's and to my father's with only some idiomatic changes. There were the same SNAFUs, FUBARs, REMFs, RAMFs, POGs, and other things that make up the grunt-speak of the various generations. And true today as it has always been, the more specialized and proficient the warrior, and Recon Marines are among the top 1% in the Corps, which puts them among the elite warriors of the world, there is more thoughtfulness about their job and about each mission--mindless drones they are not. A character in a novel once commented, not so tongue-in-cheek, that they should hand out mortarboards instead of berets upon completion of the Army's Special Forces training, except the mortarboards are a pain in a firefight. The ironies of war are not lost on these intelligent young Marines nor are their coping mechanisms ignored or considered particularly unusual...highly paid professional athletes often have quirks, too.
Wright grasps the current socio-political climate quite well, as we see when he recommends "Groundhog Day" as the best film to describe a grunt's view of war. I will wholeheartedly agree with his assessment that, unlike Vietnam, when it comes time to look for those to be held in shame, the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shall not and must not be among that group. "The Marine Corps is at war. America is at the mall." Or as Wright puts it, "It's the American public for whom the Iraqi war is no more real than a video game" (a reference to a quote in the the book about Grand Theft Auto). In short, war is still war and it is a horrible undertaking...but we still wage it upon each other with all the skill and lethality we can muster. Evan Wright's book is masterful telling of how the U.S. does it today; complete with the warts and flaws for all to see. *****
Reviewed by Dr. Phil Rhyne for Huntress Reviews....more info
April, 2003. The US military is gearing up to invade Iraq. To create chaos on the battlefield, they pick a small number of troops to drive ahead of the main force - straight into ambushes and whatever other nasty surprises Saddam has cooked up since the last Gulf War.
Naturally, they do not employ the specialised armoured units that are trained and equipped for the role. They pick the Recon Marines, whose job description is to move slowly, in small groups, without being spotted. Many of them do not even have Humvee licenses, and the vehicles themselves lack not only armor, but roofs, doors and windscreens.
Yet they do the job, and do it well, with a strange kind of cynical patriotism. While the author is clearly not in sympathy with the war, this does not interfere with his sympathy for and portrayal of the troops. And his ear for brilliant quotes: "The whole structure of the military is designed to mature young men to function responsibly while at the same time preserving their adolescent sense of invulnerability." Or the motivational speeches of the hapless "Encino Man", who kept his troops up all night to guard against some particularly dangerous looking rocks: "The Iraqis took your food . . . You should be really mad at them. Okay?"
As someone with zero practical experience in the military, let alone combat, I would still say that this is the best book about the experience of combat that I have read. Sometimes it seems just a little too perfect, but if it's not 100% real, it should have been.
- SUPRISINGLY BALANCED VIEW OF MARINES IN COMBAT
Full disclosure: I am a career Naval officer who has spent more than average amounts of time around Marines.
GENERATION KILL: DEVIL DOGS, ICEMAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, & THE NEW FACE OF AMERICAN WAR by Evan Wright was first brought to my attention by Book TV on CSPAN. At the time, it was being portrayed as a very negative viewpoint of the United States Military in general and the Marine Corps in particular. One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer was supposedly written, at least in part, as a rebuttal for Generation Kill.
Many readers will simply look at the profanity and the violence in this book and be repelled. Those readers will be missing the larger point.
The Marines, especially the enlisted Marines, described in this book are the greatest men that walk the earth. At one point, they are enraged about taking fire from a village; they go into the village talking about killing every person, man, woman, and child, that they encounter. They end up handing out candy to children.
Each time a civilian is hurt, they grieve. In one story, I wonder if they are going to commit violence against their own chain-of-command because it is impossible to medivac a wounded child.
I have never served in land combat, but this story rings true of everything I have observed of Marines. I love Marines, I love them the most when they are far away and, preferably between me and those who wish to do me harm. Their vulgarity and obnoxiousness is that most decent people would rather not have anything to do with them. Yet, by their choice to be part of the thin red line that separates America from the part of the world that is violent, brutal, and inhuman; they demonstrate every minute of every day that they are the best of humanity.
This book captures all of that and is a rip-roaring story to boot. Highly recommended.
- Interesting Look at America's New Military
The American face of war has changed since the United States' last multi-year military action. Technology has advanced at an astonishing pace and the armed forces have evolved from a conglomeration of conscripted young men, to a mixed-gender, all-volunteer army. Although many authors have explored this "new" military complex from a macro perspective, Evan Wright has journeyed to the trenches in an attempt to understand the generation of ground soldier, a generation Wright labels, "Generation Kill." Having spent a number of weeks sharing a heavily armed HUMVEE with Marines during the invasion run from Kuwait to Baghdad, Wright has gained a perspective of American ground-forces rarely seen by those limited to the more mainstream media.
Wright argues that the soldier of today varies from his predecessor. He argues that this is the first generation of soldier who readily admits to bearing the brunt of governmental lies, but still readily undertakes the orders of his commanders and country. Such a perspective lends enormous light on the present situation in Iraq, but perhaps even more so proves food for thought regarding the modern American military.
Frighteningly, Wright paints a picture of young soldiers who seem to have become nearly conditioned to violence, not only through military training, but through societal influence as well. Wright captures the horrors of war and the subsequent enlightening reactions of soldiers on the ground - feelings associated with destroying villages, accidental civilian killings, and the interaction with the Iraqi populous.
Bloody and disturbing, Wright's book opens the eyes of readers to the situation in Iraq, and the US military, in ways that CNN and Fox News prove incapable. Thankfully, writers like Evan Wright are making solid of accounts of the Iraq crisis and providing additional information for those concerned.
- Hella Nation
Fans of Evan Wright's Generation Kill will be happy to learn that he has a new book called Hella Nation. Kirkus Reviews calls the book "Vivid confirmation of the arrival of a major chronicler of those who live on or beyond the margins of the American mainstream." Don't miss Hella Nation, on shelves April 7th. ...more info
- Semper Fi!!!! Thank you Evan Wright!!!
This book is amazing!! I am a disabled vet from OIF2. I spent 5 years in the Corps(1 of them in Iraq). My Lieutenant gave me this book 2 days before I went in to operation phantom fury(i think that was the name of the op, it was in November of 2004 when we took the city of Fallujia). My best friend is currently with that same unit that is in the book. So obviously I would be interested in reading this book, but for any of you who really want to know what is in the mind of the young Americans fighting over seas and what its like to be over there, this is the book for you. The dialogue in this book is so REAL it's not even funny. I could not put this one down.
I have read some negative post on here, and it seems that they might be upset because the author of the book often gives the lower ranked guys point of views about some of the jacked up things their officers were doing or such. There is a review with a 1 star rating from a supposed First Sergeant from 1st mar div. He says the author stabbed his unit in the back. I disagree(although I don't know all the facts behind that accusation). Most civilians didn't even know about Force Recon before this book came out. Now they made an HBO special about it(haven't seen yet) that has received great reviews, and every civilian I talk to thinks that Force Recon is the best of the best. If anything Evan might have improved the Corps' recruitment numbers. When the first sergeant says that "his unit got stabbed in the back" by Evan, I would envision Evan sharing classified top secret information to the enemy or something. That was not the case, Evan told it how it is or was. He is a journalist and is allowed to do that because of that thing called THE CONSTITUTION. That is the same thing that the first sergeant swore to defend, right?
P.S. Thank you Evan Wright!!!!!!!!!!!...more info
- Generation Kill
Generation Kill This is a must read. Well written and gives deep insight into the mindset of "today's young peolpe"
There is nothing to fear for the future with the youth, I bet they are going to upset the mainstream media in the near future!...more info
- Does he know where Camp LeJeune is?
I haven't finished the book yet - and I'm happy to say that instead of buying it, I got it from the library. The copy I have is hardback, published by Penguin, and frankly, I'm debating whether or not to continue, based on the fact that on page 86 in my edition, he describes the Tarawa Marines as having come from Camp LeJeune, SOUTH Carolina. Whether this is the author's mistake or a fact-checker's oversight, Camp LeJeune, as anyone with a brain and the ability to use the internet or a map knows, is in NORTH Carolina. Mistakes such as these make me question every single aspect of this "reporter's" "reporting." ...more info
- Should Be Read with "One Bullet Away"
Lt. Nathaniel Fick's Platoon of twenty three Marines are in the unique position of having two books written about their experiences during the Iraq invasion. The first book was "Generation Kill" written by Evan Stone an embedded reporter from Rolling Stone Magazine. Wright's book was followed by Lt. Fick's own book "One Bullet Away." Three weeks of fast tempo warfare have never been better chronicled. When read together, the reader has the singular opportunity of seeing the same events as witnessed by two very different observors.
As the Platoon leader, Lt. Fick made many of the critical decisions that shaped his Marines experience of the war. "One Bullet Away" is at its best when Fick describes his thought process during stressful combat situations. These rapid decisions reflect his training and the special mindset that made him a leader of an elite Marine Corps Recon Platoon. Fick's book is especially valuable because we can enter a young officer's mind. However, where the book is at its weakest is in describing the details of combat. One gets the sense that out of loyalty to his men and the Marine Corps, Fick has toned the story and that we are getting the PG-13 view of what really happened.
Evan Wright was a 38 year old journalist with Rolling Stone Magazine when he became embedded with Lt. Fick's Recon Platoon. He entered the war not as a combatant but as a participant observor. Many times during the invasion, he rode in the lead Humvee of the Marine Corps thrust in Central Iraq. Or as Wright puts it, he as at the tippity tip of the spear. As a journalist, he was literally along for the ride. The beauty of "Generation Kill" is that Wright fills in the human details that Fick leaves out of his book. In his book, we learn alot about the young Marines he travels with and the incredible amount of destruction they leave all around them as they move north into Central Iraq. It is a compelling portrait.
This Platoon's experience has generated two very good books with the potential to become classics of their genre. One can only hope that other members of First Recon decide to write memoirs. I for one, would like to hear Encino Man or Captain America's take on the invasion. There is the potential for a real "Rashomon" effect in the telling of this story....more info
- Brilliantly written and a great buy.
I watched the HBO series first but knew the book would be just as capturing. Evan Wright's literature is easy to read and understand and gives a strong perspective into the war that most people will never know about. Realistic and a bit offensive at times, I loved it from page 1....more info
- Quick Read; Realistic Feel
Although never having experienced battle, is the best account I have read which puts the civilian in the field (or what I can only imagine is the most realistic). It will build appreciation for the day-to-day conditions our soldiers experience and for the chaos that ensues....more info
- Not Convinced War Was Nesscessary
I just finished this book after watching the HBO series. I think David Simon did a great job producing the series. As a woman I have respect for the Marines even though they seem to think we are useful for only one thing! Nevertheless, there was still no reason for this war! There were no nuclear weapons! This story that we have to fight over there so they will not come here is just more lies. These people as you read in this book were for the most part sheperds, farmers, very poor living in mud huts. What makes people think they all want to come fight over here. Heck, they've never been in an airplane and as you could see in the book the ones that did fight were terrible fighters and not at all professional soldiers. It was like shooting ducks in an amusement park! How we can sit here and glorify that is beyond me. Sickening! This whole war is a sad commentary on our country. What have we done to help these people rebuild their country and their lives? It is a whole lot harder and more noble to be a peacemaker than to shoot a gun at what? I am glad I read this book for the insight into the mindset of the soldiers. I commend Mr. Wright for getting this story out, it is worthwhile to read. ...more info
As a former Marine I can say that this book reads like I was back in the Corps. A must read for anyone who wants to know what it is like to be a young man from America turned into a Marine warrior....more info
- A great read! Pick it up and give it a try!
"Generation Kill" by Evan Wright.
A new plan was in place for the most recent invasion of Iraq in which a faster moving lighter force was to be sent through Iraq in order to keep the enemy off balance and to cover ground more quickly. First Recon was to spearhead this operation and Evan Wright was imbedded with them.
This book was very good, but also very frustrating at times. It will also dissolve any illusions you have about the military being a well oiled machine. It can be (and probably is in a lot of ways) but a few people here and there keep it from being. It seems like there are a lot of mistakes made and some people are in positions they shouldn't be in, and it cost the guys just below them. There were so many times where I was thinking "If they need (Insert whatever they were in desperate need of here) why don't they just radio in and have a helicopter drop it to them." But apparently the helicopters are too tied up with other things to be able to bring stuff to them or the stuff just wasn't available at the time.
The Good: Plenty of action. You get to see the day to day workings of war and you are glad you aren't in it. I have huge respect for the Soldiers over there and the stuff they had to put up with and this book brings the details of their day to day life to you and it is brought to you unedited. I couldn't imagine having to stay awake for 20+ hours then sleeping in a hole you dug or living off of limited rations (one MRE a day.) You also see the mistakes made and how it affects people involved. Lots of good in this book.
The Bad: Nothing memorable.
Overall: This book was very good and I highly recommend it. Pick it up and give it a try.
- 5 stars for Evan Wright's reporting
I found Wright's depiction of the Marines, their experiences, and the Iraq War as unbaised and uninhibited. He is not there to judge, nor does he have any political or personal goal; he is just there to write about what he sees, plain and simple.
And what Wright sees is the brutal, chaotic, and often fatal and life-altering wounds let open by the dogs of war. We do not know what goes on exactly through the mind of the corporal who is forced to kill the driver of a vehicle that would not stop as it drove toward a checkpoint, but we see his shock, his grief, and later his listlessness as the experience replays in his head, and as his fellow marines worry for his stability. We do not know if all the kills that the marines made were against combatants, but we see that some had to be done for safety and mission while others were the result of unfortunate cases of high tensions and nervousness. The marines of the First Recon Battalion fight bravely, under seemingly impossibly missions and orders, and persist. Yet the real stress of this war for the soldiers - as we see in the "helpless" look of Sergeant Colbert when Iraqis clamber to his humvee hoping for food, water, and medical aid - is not the physical battles, but the wear and tear it wrecks on their souls....more info
- Honest, and direct
The author clearly became close to the Marines he rode up with. He fears for them and prays with them. He captures the true heart of being one of the guys. They clearly took him in, and cared as much for him. This is a gripping and honest portrayal, as real as one could get without having been there, also. ...more info
This book does one of the best jobs of including the moral ambiguity of war of any book I have read - about any war. And part of what makes it handle that so well is it is not a treatise on that subject - it just addresses it as it arises for the troops and how they handle it.
This is possibly the best picture of the marines fighting their way up Iraq. You see the effects of the Bell curve in action - some soldiers that are outstanding, a lot that are good, and some that suck. And the author handles this in a very clever manner. The ones that suck are identified by their nickname while the rest are identified by both their real name and nicknames. So we get full information without individuals held up by name for ridicule to everyone who reads the book.
You also get to see how screwed up things get in combat. How simple little things go wrong that lead to major problems. And how the U.S. even with all of it's technical sophistication still knows so little about what is going on even 200 yards from the troops.
It will also leave you with a lot of respect for the marines. These guys are not perfect but they are incredibly competent at their job and most are trying to make sense in a place of total chaos and do a good job as best they can....more info
- War Reportage
While not as deep and emotional as Micheal Herr's Dispatches, Generation Kill still provides a great look into one facet of America's war in Iraq, the tip of the spear the 1St Marine Recon following the doctrine of maneuver warfare.
However it is one facet and one reporters viewpoint on a highly complicated war, deeper understanding would be found in Fear Up Harsh (intelligence and interrogation) and House to House (Battle of Fallujah) as well as Fiasco: War in Iraq. ...more info
- Former Marine Recommending This Book
As a former Marine who served from 2002-2006, and who has served in Iraq; I highly recommend reading this book. Evan Wright does an excellent job of explaining the Iraqi Invasion exactly how the men in First Recon experienced it. This book truly portrays how young, low ranking Marines live. He thoroughly explains their thoughts, attitudes and their opinions of the war. He then supplements this with outside information from interviewing higher ranking people and information obtained after to paint for the reader the entire picture of the war. The dialogue used amongst the Marines is to the point accurate. For those who are interested in the lifestyle of Marines in Iraq or who are just simply interested in reading about the experiences of others (like myself), I would buy this book. There were times when I was reading the book and I thought it was telling me about my experience in the Marines; that is how authentic this book is.
I also recommend reading "One Bullet Away: The Making of A Marine Officer" by Nathaniel Fick. Nathaniel Fick was a platoon commander with Bravo Co. 1st Recon who wrote about his personal accounts in Iraq and other experiences....more info
- Incredible book on modern combat and the "fog of war."
This is an incredible book of combat and the "fog of war." The book reads like such great fiction that if he didn't mention it you wouldn't realize that the author was there for the whole thing. The narratives of combat are enthralling, sobering, and thought-provoking. Two of the most fascinating things about this book are: (1) the "fog of war" aspect, where even though these soldiers are incredibly eager to get into combat, when they do they seem disillusioned by the fact that, sometimes, the people that they kill are civilians and they aren't always sure if they killed good guys or bad guys. Wright, without ever trying to do some ham-handed psychoanalysis, shows how all the soldiers deal with the horrors of war. (2) Wright's afterword in the 2008 reprint and, specifically, Corporl Person's criticism of the comments that the actors of the HBO miniseries of the same title that no one, not even actors who are suppose to portray the rigors of battle to American audiences, can never truly understand what it is like to fight unless they've been there. Truly, this is one of the best accounts of war I've read since Black Hawk Down....more info
- Rolling Stone Goes to War
One of the new aspects of the war in Iraq this time around was the army practice of "embedding" reporters with various units. These reporters followed the soldiers or marines as they fought, ate, slept, and travelled across Iraq, and then were at some point allowed to report on what they'd seen, who they'd met, and the personnel that they'd observed. Evan Wright was one of the reporters who was embedded during the war. Wright is a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine (of all things) and he was selected to march with the First Reconnaisance Battalion of the First Marine Division. This was a pretty choice assignment: Recon Marines are as elite as Marines get. Historically, the USMC doesn't have elite units as such (though they've recently agreed to begin training a unit to serve in the Special Forces Command) so Wright drew what, in reporting terms, is a prime assignment, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. Although there were originally two reporters assigned to the unit Wright was the only one to see combat with them.
Wright has a wonderful ability with words, and is a very good observer of things that happen around him. He's also careful in his judgements, and given the publication he writes for, nowhere near as negative about the war and its participants as I expected him to be. He seems willing to look at both sides of any issue, and look at situations from the point of view of the participants, something civilians sometimes have difficulty with. While his view of the Marine Corps isn't always positive, by any means, he does portray things honestly. Interestingly, he appears to have a good understanding of military terminology, and seems to have absorbed a great deal of knowledge. I have read a lot of books by reporters trying to explain what's happened in wars, and few have had fewer mistakes than Wright. One notable exception is when an exploding Iraqi tank sends shrapnel "hundreds of kilometers" away from itself, and some of it wounds other men in the units. I suspect Wright meant meters, not kilometers.
This is, however, a very very good book. The author pretty much completely avoids discussing the larger issue of whether we should have invaded in the first place, and skirts things such as whether the strategies used were correct or not. Mostly, he's interested in the marines he's with, their comrades in other units: what they do, think, say, and (as much as they tell Wright anyway) feel. The impression you get is of a bunch of American kids trying to do the best they can under difficult circumstances, with a lot of bad people shooting at them. I highly recommend this book....more info