Friday, July 11, 2008

Off Topic---War In Iraq: The Battle of Fallujah

No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah, Bing West, Bantam Books, 380 pp., photographs, maps, appendix, index, order of battle, notes, bibliography, $25.00 hardcover, $15.00 paperback.

Fought in April 2003, the Battle of Fallujah is representative of nearly every experience of the American military in Iraq. Fearlessness by the fighting men and battleline commanders, double mindedness and 'deer in the headlights' paralysis by political operatives in Baghdad and Washington are illustrated through the book. The military's will to succeed in Iraq and the U.S. government's lack of planning and funds are the hallmarks of West reporting. Treacherous relationships between tribal sheiks, imams, foreign insurgents, the citizens of Fallujah and the American frontline military are chronicled by West, coauthor of The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the United States Marines (2003).

West covers adequately those policy decisions made by the White House that affect the soldiers in Fallujah. The majority of the book focuses on the battlefront in a town that even under Saddam's regime had a reputation for being on the wild side. The author offers eyewitness accounts of negotiations in Baghdad as the soldiers sleep houses at the outskirts of Fallujah. In the building to building fighting, West offers details from eyewitnesses to the point that at times his work appears to be oral history. His coverage of the activities of Marine snipers during the negotiated calm before the final storm is graphic. How snipers' targets fall when hit is described. No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah, is vivid.

West's tone is neither antiwar nor gungho. His background includes long stays in Iraq and a career in the military as a Marine in Vietnam and as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. In writing No True Glory the author observed and interviewed more than 700 Marines, other soldiers and participants in the course of 16 months. His depth of observating first hand the activities he reports and the immense amount of interviews he collected from participants is the background of this book and provoides and immersion experience for the reader.

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