The first bombs of Operation Iraqi Freedom rained down on Baghdad on March 20, 2003. Since then, roughly one million young Americans have rotated through Iraq. Nevertheless, with the facts on the ground being filtered through the media, the military, the White House, and political bias in both directions, we know shockingly little about what the American men and women on the front lines really experience.
With this extraordinary book, all that changes.
What Was Asked of Us is the first unvarnished, unfiltered, and uncensored history of the Iraq war-straight from the mouths of the men and women who are fighting it. Based on scores of in-depth interviews, What Was Asked of Us takes us from the initial invasion to the present. We meet soldiers who reveal in their own words their greatest triumphs, most devastating defeats, and darkest secrets-like Daniel Cotnoir, a Mortuary Affairs officer who spent his days retrieving the bodies and body parts of fallen soldiers; Seth Moulton a Harvard-educated officer who led a surreal battle amid the graves in an ancient Iraqi cemetery; Travis Williams, a Marine who lost all of his squad mates in an IED attack; and Tania Quiñones, an Army National Guard MP deployed to Baghdad, who had to deal with frustrated locals and sexist comrades.
They tell us about their lives and careers, their families back home, their days and nights, the Iraqis they've encountered, the fear and the courage and the challenges of fighting a war when the enemy is everywhere and nowhere at once. They tell us things they've told no one, not even their families.
By turns inspiring and heartbreaking, What Was Asked of Us is a landmark book, the first time our troops in Iraq have been able to speak at length about their experiences. From the thrilling highs (a spectacular rush by the 3rd Infantry Division into Baghdad) to the devastating lows (an account of what it was like to be a soldier at Abu Ghraib, witnessing the abuse of prisoners), this book lets the troops speak for themselves. As a result, it offers the most emotionally powerful and revealing account of the war and is necessary reading for anyone who cares about our soldiers and our country.
The thing about fighting in a war, relates one soldier in this penetrating, terrifying and important book, "is that there's no way to put into words what actually happened." Yet with these brutally straightforward accounts by 29 American veterans of the Iraq War, Wood-an award-winning Canadian investigative reporter-proves her own subject wrong. Wood's deftness as interviewer and editor renders her own presence scarce, freeing each soldier to provide firsthand looks at botched reconstruction efforts, intelligence snafus and the practicalities of heroism. Among these stories by soldiers from widely varying ideological and personal backgrounds, unexpected examples are the born-again Christian, appalled by the abuse he witnesses at Abu Ghraib, who asks, "America, what always makes us right?"; and the ex-drug addict, a self-described "left-wing nut," who calls the war "a meaningless conflict" yet acknowledges that "I loved every firefight I was in because for those few brief seconds nothing else matters." Colloquial, coarse and compelling, these narratives flash with humor, horror, nihilism and poesy. Despite the layers of tragedy, the ascendant message is one of courage and self-sacrifice amid war's absurdities. 16 pages b&w photos. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.