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Breathing the Fire: Fighting to Survive, and Get Back to the Fight Paperback – November 1, 2011
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Kimberly Dozier is a former CBS news correspondent who became the news during an embed assignment in Baghdad over the Memorial Day weekend in 2006. What was to be a 'routine' assignment, if such a thing existed, turned into a hellish nightmare after a 500 pound car bomb was detonated at the scene. Assigned to follow a patrol over the holiday while Americans at home were eating their barbeque and doing their best to forget about the war, the incident put the war back 'above the fold'. Four members of the party, Captain ames Alex Funkhouser, USA, CBS cameraman Paul Douglas, CBS soundman James Brolan and Captain Funhouser's Iraqi translator, Sam, died at the scene, all but Douglas, instantly. Breathing the Fire is Dozier's account of that day and the aftermath it wrought. The story is engrossing, and as a reporter, Dozier makes it a compelling read. The book opens with Dozier setting the scene the night before the assignment. From there she darts back and forth through time, recounting the story as well as how she put the pieces of the story together. Not unusually for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) sufferer, it took a lot of time and a lot of digging to get the pieces to fall into place. She had to rely on information from outside sources until her slowly recovering brain could fill in all the facts. Breathing the Fire gives an in-depth view of trauma care and a small glimpse of the people who provide it. Dozier sets the scene from the Baghdad street corner all the way through her return to work. Included are stops at the Combat Support Hospital (CSH) in Baghdad's Green Zone and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a "way station" in Germany for injured troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as troops based in Germany and their family members. From there Dozier is transferred to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and finally to Kernan Hospital for further rehabilitation. Through each step, Dozier paints a vivid picture of her injuries, her pain and her care. The tale is emotionally raw and honest. She describes the toll that the bomb took not only on her and her loved ones, but those of the other victims as well. She talks to other service members from the scene as well as family members of those that were lost. In the process, she also tells the story of how she got to her position in Baghdad. The book is really an autobiography of her entire life, including her fight to return to 'normal life' and get back in the field. Overall, this was a riveting read; almost in stream-of-consciousness mode, the pages keep turning as the tale moves along. The faults are few: Dozier shows a tendency to repeat herself occasionally; the quickly shifting timeline can be a little confusing at times; she also tends to break situations, things and people into simply dichotomies. There is very little grey; there is good and there is evil. And, with very few exceptions, regarding people, the split is class-based: military figures in the field are all good, administrators, not so much. Nurses and corpsmen are good, doctors tend to be evil. (This is one area where exceptions can be found, notably Dr. Dunne at Bethesda) Additionally, Dozier spends a decent amount of the book justifying herself, her life and her career choices. While understandable given the context, at times it doesn't come across very well. She mentions in the postscript to the paperback edition that with some time and distance, she saw the writing as "angry" and chose not to edit that out, as it was her true self at that time. I didn't sense anger so much as defensiveness and I don't know that Dozier has anything about which to be defensive.
This is the best book I've read about being blown up in Iraq, nearly dying, and recovering. Kim, one of the more courageous people I've ever met, is donating all profits to charities for wounded soldiers. So what are you waiting for?
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Top Customer Reviews
It was not an easy read. But, as they say, "war is hell." And Kim takes us on her all too real journey and out the other side. She not only shows us how she survived covering the war in Iraq, but also how she navigated a medical system in which some professionals don't always listen to their patients, but also shows us how the best ones do. She exposes a news business in which women journalists are sometimes judged not only by their skills but also on their looks. She reveals her truth, which while not always pretty, is ultimately beautiful. She also admits her fear of failure, something many women of our generation have had to conquer, although perhaps none of us quite so vividly and with the world watching.
Kim's book truly is a tribute to those who were lost that day, those who survived, and all those who help the survivors, including Kim. The truth of this war, indeed of any war, is an ugly one, but this book offers us a glimpse behind the curtain. It is vitally important that we look.
I really liked this book and would recommend it to all.
Her book is a quick read, but not always a pleasant one. In her brisk style honed as a broadcast writer conveys a candid and authoritative narrative. I found three themes of particular interest.
Her description of military medical practices is fascinating. She gives a detailed yet comprehensible explanation of the life-saving methods practiced by corpsmen and medics on the battlefield. Procedures immediately after the explosion are clearly spelled out, and I think that has to be a comfort to anyone who has a friend or relative in harm's way.
She also tells us about the long and agonizing rehabilitation process from start to finish. Too often we only hear about the tragic incident and then the outcome, whether it's happy or bittersweet. The gut-wrenching middle gets left out or short-changed. But Kimberly clarifies the recovery process without being maudlin or grotesque. This book is highly recommended for anyone facing long recovery from serious injury (and for their family and friends).
Kimberly's decision regarding the choice of psychotropic drugs versus counseling is instructive and can be a guide to others in similar situations. She recognized, or perhaps just sensed, that she did not need drugs. Of the three states of mental health problems -- stress, distress and disorder - she was battling the first two, but not the third.
Her counseling references also are in stark contrast to the situation for many active military personnel. DOD recognizes other mental health professions for independent insurance reimbursement, but not certified counselors.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I admire her determination to recover, and to take us on that journey.
It was also probably therapeutic to revisit the events.,
Kimberly Dozier has written an amazing & riveting account of the Iraqi war from the viewpoint of a journalist. And a severely wounded journalist, at that. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Halle's Mom
Written and a must read especially if NAVAO, AFOS, FCOVD, ABO Dipl. FAAO and especially FNORA. An excruciating wake up call in NR.Published on December 29, 2013 by Bob Kocembo
NOT SURE WHY IT SAYS MEMORIAL DAY 2007. IT WAS MAY 29TH 2006. I WAS THERE THAT DAY. I have considered buying this book, but am afraid the details would be too much to recall. Read morePublished on August 5, 2013 by Joey P.
I originally heard part of this book on XM's book radio channel and was compelled to get it. It's an eye opening look at the war experience and the real struggles of survivors of... Read morePublished on July 18, 2013 by Jane Majka
I read the first issue of Breathing the Fire by Kimberly Dozier and the second was just as amazing. Could not put the book down, You will not want to put the book down. Read morePublished on March 19, 2013 by Doug Nobles
Kimberly Dozier immediately draws the reader into the story. I felt myself wishing I could pull her away from the scene before it happens.
Bravest woman out there!!
first heard parts of it on book radio and was hooked. had to get so I could hear the whole story, very good book,Published on March 14, 2013 by B Deason
Reading Kimberly's account of her journey back to physical health while trying to overcome the guilt she feels about the deaths of her two colleagues is truely inspriational. Read morePublished on December 6, 2012 by Janel W. Pratt