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As You Were: To War and Back with the Black Hawk Battalion of the Virginia National Guard [Hardcover]

by Christian Davenport
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1, 2009 047037361X 978-0470373613 1
A powerful, enraging, tear-jerking reminder of how so few Americans have sacrificed so much during the so-called' war on terror'. the best kind of war book. - Alex Kershaw, author of The Bedford Boys and Escape from the Deep 

""Through the voices and experiences of five very diverse members of the Virginia National Guard, As You Were gives the great majority of Americans who have not been sent to war a sense of the experiences of our citizen-soldiers and the family, employment, and health problems they face reentering American society after experiencing combat."" - David R. Segal, Drector, Center for Research on Military Organization, University of Maryland

""A sad, stirring, sometimes maddening story. Christian Davenport writes not so much about combat, but rather the home front-the struggles of the families left behind while their providers go off to war and of the solders themselves as they stagger back to a civilian world that declines to reward, or even betrays, their sacrifice."" - Fred Kaplan, ""War Stories"" columist, Slate; author of Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Powe


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Following the experiences of five members of 2-224th Aviation Regiment, Virginia Army National Guard, from federal activation through a one-year deployment in Iraq and back again, Washington Post reporter Davenport reveals the heroism and sacrifice of citizen-soldiers across the country. Like thousands across the country, these five find their lives violently shaken by notice of activation, pulled from families, careers and, for Miranda Summers, a senior year at William and Mary. In Iraq, they found a war zone waiting encountering insurgent gunfire flying into Baghdad, Fallujah and Ramadi; on rescue missions; or flying an "angel flight", the first leg escorting a fallen soldier home. Davenport, embedded with the regiment on their 2005-06 deployment, follows up on his story with accounts of home-side challenges. This book honors well the citizen-soldiers of the National Guard and the Army, Navy and Marine Corps Reserves, while giving readers a vivid sense of life before, during and after engagement in a far-off war.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

* Following the experiences of five members of 2-224th Aviation Regiment, Virginia Army National Guard, from federal activation through a one-year deployment in Iraq and back again, Washington Post reporter Davenport reveals the heroism and sacrifice of citizen-soldiers across the country. Like thousands across the country, these five find their lives violently shaken by notice of activation, pulled from families, careers and, for Miranda Summers, a senior year at William and Mary. In Iraq, they found a war zone waiting encountering insurgent gunfire flying into Baghdad, Fallujah and Ramadi; on rescue missions; or flying an “angel flight”, the first leg escorting a fallen soldier home. Davenport, embedded with the regiment on their 2005-06 deployment, follows up on his story with accounts of home-side challenges. This book honors well the citizen-soldiers of the National Guard and the Army, Navy and Marine Corps Reserves, while giving readers a vivid sense of life before, during and after engagement in a far-off war. (May) (Publishers Weekly, April 20, 2009)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047037361X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470373613
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christian Davenport (www.christian-davenport.com) is the author of "As You Were: To War and Back with the Black Hawk Battalion of the Virginia National Guard" and is a staff writer at The Washington Post, where he was on a team of reporters that was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in National reporting for coverage of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

In 2007, he was awarded an Alicia Patterson Fellowship in journalism and spent a month embedded with the Virginia Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment in Iraq. He then spent a year chronicling the lives of five of the unit's soldiers returning to civilian life after the war. The stories of these five soldiers are featured in "As You Were," which was released in May, 2009.

During his nine-year career at the Post, he's covered everything from hurricanes to political campaigns to the Washington area sniper shootings. He's embedded twice with American troops abroad and has written extensively about the lives of soldiers and marines fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recent reporting has covered topics such as the new GI Bill, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the arrival of the war dead to Dover Air Force Base, the passing of the World War II generation, veteran unemployment and homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder, military recruiting and the role citizen-soldiers are playing in today's all-volunteer military.

Before coming to The Post, he worked for Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Austin American-Statesman. A graduate of Colby College, he lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife. Find him at facebook.com/christiandavenport or twitter.com/davenportchris.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real people, real voices. May 25, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Davenport does a stellar job of accurately capturing the voices of these soldiers and their struggles of coming home after being away for so long.
Their stories are moving and gut-wrenching so be prepared to get misty eyed. Regardless of political point of view, it is hard to ignore the difficulty they have readjusting to civilian life and the messy aftermath that is the Veterans Assistance program.
I would recommend this book to anyone. Particularly if you happen to know one of the 1% of the population who volunteered to be a citizen soldier.
Davenport captures their voices and personalities with grace and you will feel as if you know these soldiers and their loved ones once finished.
These soldiers have been heard and now that their stories are being told this book can aid in having conversations about PSTD and reintegration into a society that sometimes seems to forget that there are fathers, sons, sisters and daughters that are being asked to give years of their lives away from loved ones.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sacrifices of a Citizen Soldier June 16, 2009
By Pilot09
Format:Hardcover
The focus is not on combat and war, but rather a rare insight into the sacrifices of National Guard citizen soldiers. This informative, well-researched book follows the lives of 5 individuals and their families just before, during, and after their mobilization to active military service in Iraq. Although the book does describe some combat-related action and the human tragedy of war, the focus is on individual personalities and differing backgrounds of the soldiers including their subsequent readjustments after being released from active duty. This easy-reading book walks the reader through some of the complexities of the military including how mobilization, the Army bureaucracy, and combat affected the soldiers, their families, and their friends.

The general public should read this enjoyable book for an understanding of how individual citizen-soldiers and their families sacrifice in answering the call to duty in a story that touches the heart. In the case of one citizen-soldier, Ray Johnson, this was his second war for the 58 year-old Vietnam veteran - that is real patriotism!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Writing June 18, 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book is a real gem, a narrative written by a Washington Post reporter which focusses on five members of Virginia's National Guard who are deployed to Iraq for slightly more than a year. They include Miranda, who's a senior at William and Mary; Ray, a grandfather who served in Vietnam; Kate, from rural Virginia who enlists and gets married right before shipping out; Craig, a recent grad who has an eye for business and who trains as a helicopter pilot, and Mark, a Virginia Military Institute grad. They span all social classes, include officers and enlisted, both genders, young and old They share a commitment to service and they all share in the rigors of readjustment when they arrive back in the civilian world. What I liked about this book is that often we're encouraged to think of war as a separate country, unlike anything that the rest of us do or will ever do. In this book, you see that while people are deployed, life goes on -- basements flood, babies are born, people graduate from college. This is a rich and compelling set of stories about real people and the sacrifices they make during war and for many years afterwards, as they struggle to live in communities where those sacrifices are unappreciated and misunderstood.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Story May 16, 2009
By LP23
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Have your Kleenex ready when you read these stories of five National Guard soliders called to fight in Iraq. Whether you support the war or not is irrelevant, this book is about real people, their feelings and struggles. Davenport personalizes the soldiers in a way that they are pushed out of anonymity and into your heart.

A great first book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight like no others... June 21, 2009
By mnr602
Format:Hardcover
The author who was embedded in the unit provides an insight like no other war author. The individualized stories brings home the personal effects that war has on familys. Definistely would reccomend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Kind of War Story June 14, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
To the extent that one can "enjoy" a book about something as tragic as war, I definitely did enjoy reading this book. I've read about a dozen books about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and think this is the first one to really tell the story of the impact that being called up has on the lives of our soldiers. The quote retold in here about how "our military went to war while America went to the mall" struck a chord with me. I really haven't had to sacrifice a single thing since 9/11. Taking the time to read about the people who have is the very least I can do. Davenport tells these stories well. The book is very well-written and should be required reading for everyone else who benefits from the sacrifices our soldiers make.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A look inside the sacrifices our soldiers make June 12, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Whether you support the war or not, whether you liked Bush or voted for Obama or McCain, this is a book you simply must read.
You won't find much action, or any gorey scenes (with one possible exception) but what you will gain is an understanding of what kinds of sacrifices our military personnel go through, not just in service overseas, but also here at home. You might be surprised at how they are treated and "rewarded" by the country they volunteered to serve.
This book also chronocles what their families must go through, as they sit at home dreading every news report of a soldier missing, wounded or killed overseas, and worried that every knock on the door or phone call could be devestating news.
However, this does have some bright moments as well. A military wife who learns her own brand of courage and strength, a civilian who shows understanding and compassion for the soldier he begins dating after she returns home, and the comaraderie the soldiers depend on to get through the worst of times.
If you've never served in a warzone, or if you have a loved one who did, you owe it to them and yourself to read this book. You'll be grateful you did.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate Journalism, Moving Portraits
Davenport is a first rate journalist and he did a very nice job capturing the experiences of these young men and women in Iraq and back at home. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Thomas Tobin
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I hadn't realized how much of a toll the Gulf war took on our national guard. The treatment given to these fine soldiers upon their return is appalling. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Elliot Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Book - story review
An excellent perspective into the war journey of a few national guard members. I believe that it is very helpful to hear their perspectives, live their experiences through their... Read more
Published on May 14, 2011 by nursemary
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read for a civilian. Ok read for a Soldier.
Some of the struggles of the Soldiers presented in this book are over dramatized. This might not be clear to civilians but most Soldiers that would read this book would find parts... Read more
Published on January 12, 2011 by J. Solberg
5.0 out of 5 stars I saw much of my own experience in these pages.
I first heard of this book through a review written by the Army Times. I had been home from Iraq for one year and had found many setbacks. Read more
Published on October 11, 2009 by W. R. Thayne
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative
This book gave a lot of insight into the personal aspects of our military personnel. The emotional requirements of serving in Iraq are huge. Read more
Published on September 14, 2009 by C. L. Martinez
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written
I decided to read this book after hearing the author's interview on NPR. I am glad I decided to read this book as my first introduction to military non-ficiton. Read more
Published on September 8, 2009 by Liz H
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable
It reads like a novel, but it's actually a deeply researched and empathetic account of the challenges faced by some real people serving in Iraq, and their readjustment to civilian... Read more
Published on August 17, 2009 by James D. Gawn
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm so glad he told these touching stories of today's "backdoor draft"
This book provides fascinating insight into today's Citizen Soldiers...and the motivations/experiences of a handful of National Guard men/women who chose to serve, even while... Read more
Published on August 10, 2009 by Susan Goewey
5.0 out of 5 stars As You Were: To War and Back
An eye opening look into the true existence of the National Guard, re-defined my perceptions of the Guard and the citizen-soldiers that serve. Read more
Published on July 19, 2009 by Ryan Palm
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