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House to House: An Epic Memoir of War [Kindle Edition]

David Bellavia , John Bruning
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (517 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Blood flows over my left hand and I lose my grip on his hair. His head snaps back against the floor. In an instant, his fists are pummeling me. I rock from his counterblows. He lands one on my injured jaw and the pain nearly blinds me. He connects with my nose, and blood and snot pour down my throat. I spit blood between my teeth and scream with him. The two of us sound like caged dogs locked in a death match. We are."

On the night of November 10, 2004, a U.S. Army infantry squad under Staff Sergeant David Bellavia entered the heart of the city of Fallujah and plunged into one of the most sustained and savage urban battles in the history of American men at arms.

With Third Platoon, Alpha Company, part of the Army's Task Force 2/2, Bellavia and his men confronted an enemy who had had weeks to prepare, booby-trapping houses, arranging ambushes, rigging entire city blocks as explosives-laden kill zones, and even stocking up on atropine, a steroid that pumps up fighters in the equivalent of a long-lasting crack high. Entering one house, alone, Bellavia faced the fight of his life against six insurgents, using every weapon at his disposal, including a knife. It is the stuff of legend and the chief reason he is one of the great heroes of the Iraq War.

Bringing to searing life the terrifying intimacy of hand-to-hand infantry combat, House to House is far more than just another war story. Populated by an indelibly drawn cast of characters, from a fearless corporal who happens to be a Bush-hating liberal to an inspirational sergeant-major who became the author's own lost father figure, it develops the intensely close relationships that form between soldiers under fire. Their friendships, tested in brutal combat, would never be quite the same. Not all of them would make it out of the city alive. What happened to them in their bloody embrace with America's most implacable enemy is a harrowing, unforgettable story of triumph, tragedy, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

A timeless portrait of the U.S. infantryman's courage, House to House is a soldier's memoir that is destined to rank with the finest personal accounts of men at war.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Staff sergeant Bellavia's account of the fierce 2004 fighting in Fallujah will satisfy readers who like their testosterone undiluted. Portraying himself as a hard-bitten, foul-mouthed, superbly trained warrior, deeply in love with America and the men in his unit, contemptuous of liberals and a U.S. media that fails to support soldiers fighting in the front lines of the global war on terror, Bellavia begins with a nasty urban shootout against Shiite insurgent militias. Six months later, his unit prepares to assault the massively fortified city of Fallujah in a ferocious battle that takes up the rest of the book. Anyone expecting an overview of strategy or political background to the war has picked the wrong book. Bellavia writes a precise, hour-by-hour account of the fighting, featuring repeated heroic feats and brave sacrifice from Americans but none from the enemy, contemptuously dismissed as drug-addled, suicidal maniacs. Readers will encounter a nuts-and-bolts description of weapons, house-to-house tactics, gallantry and tragic mistakes, culminating with a glorious victory that, in Bellavia's view, will go down in history with the invasion of Normandy. Like a pitch-by-pitch record of a baseball game, this detailed battle description will fascinate enthusiasts and bore everyone else. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"To read this book is to know intimately the daily grind and danger of men at war." -- Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
221 of 230 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best company/platoon/squad level book the Iraq War October 27, 2007
By Kirk L.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I want to start by saying that you need to read this book.

Until a few hours ago, I felt that Colby Buzzell's irreverent but accurate "My War" was the best micro (that is company level or below) accounting of the Iraq War by the those who fight it. SSG David Bellavia's and John Bruning's account is a no-punches-pulled, politically incorrect infantryman's eye view of the war in 2004.

My unit replaced Bellavia's in Diyala Province in 2005, several months after the Battle of Fallujah. I knew his fallen company commander, Capt. Sean Sims, when we were lieutenants together, so this memoir is something I as a military professional on my second tour here can relate to.

Bellavia's imagery and descriptions are amazing; and he deftly brings out the personalities of his comrades in arms like a master storyteller. One of the challenges in a book like this is trying to keep so many people straight as the story progresses, but he does this effectively by recounting key moments with each individual which serves to indelibly burn that person into the mind. From his fellow squad leader, mirror image and battle brother Fitts, to the hard-talking, no BS platoon sergeant, to the team leader who devoured at least three MREs at the attack position just before entering the city, Bellavia gives everyone their due diligence, yet keeps the story going.

The preface, titled "Coffins of Muqdadiyah" is as relevant to the kind of fight we're seeing in Southern Baghdad as it was more than three years ago in an area about 60 km to the northeast.
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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful
As a Viet Nam era veteran, I am quite aware that the way wars are fought change from war to war. World War I was fought different than World War II, the Korean War different from Viet Nam, and as this savagely true account of the war in Iraq bears witness to, is unique with its own horrors. This first hand account by Staff Sergeant David Bellavia (Bell) summons up memories of the great book "Blackhawk Down". But in my opinion, the fact that the author is a participant in the horror described, gives it a more lethal punch in the readers gut.

Being a veteran, what immediately impressed me about Bell's writing is that no one was spared from his piercing truthful words. Including himself. It was reassuring to know that after all these years, there is still a societal clash between most officers and enlisted men. Bell shows he will bare his soul with divine honesty even when he is the one being stripped naked in a judgmental spot light. A perfect example, is when he owns up to the real reason he joined the Army, was because he froze up and didn't defend his mother and father during a home burglary by some crack heads. He realized he needed to become a man and felt the army would help him reach that goal.

The reader is made aware immediately, of what all war veterans already know, but most media outlets don't emphasize near enough, and that is, "WAR IS HELL". As early as the second page of this powerful outpouring of the grim facts of what is today's kind of war we're told: "Shattered bodies litter the ground around us. Vacant corpse eyes, bulging and horror struck, stare back at us. The stench of burned flesh is thick in our nostrils.
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153 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wept freely September 10, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I saw a photo on the 'net the other day. It showed handwriting on a whiteboard that read, "America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall." Staff Sergeant Bellavia would undoubtedly curse this as yet another example of Marine Corps historical revisionism, but with a few corrections ("The Army is at war; the Marine Corps is jammed up at the gates; and America is at the mall."), he'd likely agree with the sentiment. And even though my own son is a Marine and due to deploy to Iraq in the next six months, I wouldn't begrudge SSG Bellavia a bit. He has been to Hell and has the passport stamps to show for it.

This is a horrific, wrenching book that should be required reading for every high school civics class, for every Member of Congress, for every would-be Presidential candidate, and for all military brass above the rank of Lieutenant. Here in the States we talk freely of 'supporting the troops' and yet have no real clue of what they face and endure, in body, mind and spirit, for our security and for the freedom of other nations.

SSG Bellavia has done his best to show us what those costs are. He and his comrades -- those who lived and especially those who died -- deserve our attention and understanding, at least for the few hours and few dollars it will cost for each of us to read this book. ..bruce..
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
On November 10, 2004, Staff Sargent David Bellavia was one of the American infantry making a direct assault on the Iraqi town of Fallujah, engaging tens of thousands of insurgent fighters in street by street, house by house, close-quarters combat. American media coverage was somewhat misleading as it focused on aerial assaults and high tech artillery attacks. Most of the fighting that took place was direct, direct, brutal, and lethal. This was combat that tested and revealed the strength, character, courage, and training of America's fighting men and women. A nominee for the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross, Bellavia gives his readers a candidly detailed, informed and informative account of a sustained and vicious battles -- including his own ordeal of going into an explosives rigged house on a solo mission and finding himself face-to-face with six fanatical insurgents, all of whom he eventually killed, including one in a mortal, primal, hand-to-hand, personal fight to the death. "House To House" is a gripping battlefield memoir, but also provides the reader with analytical insights into the fanaticism and character of the insurgent opposition, and the hatred that enters into the heart of a soldier when fighting for his life and the lives of his comrades in arms. "House To House" is strongly recommended for academic and community library collections, and for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in what it is like to be in combat in Iraqi today.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read! Brutally honest view. Thank you ...
A must read ! Brutally honest view. Thank you for service to our country.
Published 21 hours ago by Richard L.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very graphic but entertaining
Published 13 days ago by Shirley Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Best book I have ever spent less than two dollars on.
Published 14 days ago by Travis h.
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding book
The author did an incredible job. This book is well-written, and gets to the heart of what it's like to be a combat infantryman. Read more
Published 15 days ago by karen
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely exceptional
SSG Bellavia paints unapologetically a vivid and realistic picture of his time in Iraq and it is an amazing read. Read more
Published 18 days ago by L. Carroll
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot on
His tempo was solid. Just enough battle humor mixed in to remind all... the combat stress we tried to break.
Published 22 days ago by sb1234
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read!
This is a gritty first hand account of a soldier. Makes your hair stand on end! Gripping stuff! One can just about smell the chordite, and hear the empty cases hitting the ground.
Published 24 days ago by croff
4.0 out of 5 stars Got what I paid for.
Got what I paid for.
Published 25 days ago by GVL
5.0 out of 5 stars SSG Bellavia tells an awesome story from the perspective of an...
SSG Bellavia tells an awesome story from the perspective of an Infantry Squad Leader about Fallujah, the war in Iraq, and brutality of close quarters combat.
Published 29 days ago by donakeykong
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible book
I read many books about Navy Seals and combat. This is one of the best if not the best. David Bellavia's recollection is outstanding and gripping.
Published 1 month ago by tlc
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More About the Author

Staff Sergeant David Bellavia spent six years in the U.S. Army, including some of the most intense fighting of the Iraq War. He has been awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his actions in Iraq, and recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honor for his actions in Fallujah. In 2005, he received the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York State's highest award for military valor) and was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame. He is the cofounder of Vets for Freedom, an advocacy organization of veterans concerned about the politicization of media coverage of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. His writing has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, National Review, The Weekly Standard, and other publications. He lives in western New York.

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