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House to House: An Epic Memoir of War Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 583 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"This is life in the infantry, circa right now." -- Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq and Making the Corps

"A riveting, poignant, and at times even humorous firsthand account." -- Andrew Carroll, editor of War Letters and Behind the Lines

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

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416596607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416596608
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (583 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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