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In a Time of War: The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002 Hardcover – September 16, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080508679X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805086799
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,116,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The West Point cadets Murphy follows through their baptism by fire are an admirable sample of young American men and women: intelligent, ambitious and intensely patriotic. Most come from career military families and hold conservative opinions. Murphy describes their four years at West Point with respect even when discussing their love lives and marriages. All yearn for battle, and most get their wish. The book's best passages describe the confusion of moving to Iraq or Afghanistan and fighting insurgents, for which they lack both training and equipment. All feel something is not right but concentrate on the job at hand; some inevitably die or are grievously wounded. In his classic, The Long Gray Line, Rick Atkinson followed West Point's 1966 class for 20 years. With only five years' perspective, Murphy lacks Atkinson's depth and epic scope, but his work stands out from much current military reporting by avoiding editorializing about war. He confines himself to a skillful journalistic narrative of events that are gripping enough to hold any reader's attention. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In his debut, Murphy chronicles the lives of representative 2002 graduates of the United States Military Academy. A protégé of celebrity journalist Bob Woodward, Murphy has military experience that may have helped him connect to his subjects and perhaps encouraged them to be open with him. In depicting this cohort of warriors, Murphy describes military specialties pursued by the newly commissioned officers, their romantic relationships, and their dispatch to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The biographies of the individuals, interrupted in their pre-graduation friendships as they scatter geographically, tends to strain narrative continuity as Murphy’s presentation shifts constantly from the officer to the spouse to the combat zones. It’s left to the reader to speculate what distinguishes this class from others in West Point’s history, such as the 1966 Vietnam soldiers profiled in Rick Atkinson’s classic The Long Grey Line (1989). Maybe the salient difference is between American society then versus now; unlike during Vietnam, few Americans have relatives at risk in Iraq and Afghanistan. Murphy bridges the gap with this introduction to West Pointers, both those who serve and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Expect demand arising from the subject and multimedia publicity --Gilbert Taylor

More About the Author

Bill Murphy Jr. is an author and journalist in the NYC area, and a columnist for (

With Jon Burgstone, he is the coauthor of "Breakthrough Entrepreneurship," (available on Amazon at Previously, Murphy wrote the books "The Intelligent Entrepreneur," and "In a Time of War." A former trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and an army veteran, Murphy worked as the lead reporting assistant to Bob Woodward of The Washington Post on "State of Denial" and "The Secret Man." He also reported from Iraq for the Post.

You can always reach him directly at

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Customer Reviews

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See all 23 customer reviews
Best war book I have read to date.
Bill Murphy gives us an intimate look into the lives of some of America's best and brightest young people, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.
Timothy J. Bazzett
Where the author really succeeds is in his description of their experiences leading soldiers on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tom Weikert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By R. Renken on September 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
West Point's Class of 2002 spent a majority of their time training in a time of peace. By the time graduation came around, we were in a war and the President announced his doctrine of preemption. We graduated in a time of war.

For me, the memories came rushing back. Bill Murphy Jr described and detailed he lives of a few cadets and their families to achieve something that hasn't been done before. Bill took an in-depth and intimate approach dealing with the choices the cadets made from their personal relationships, them choosing their branches, them choosing their first duty stations, all the other choices that came with being leaders of America's sons and daughters in a war, and them choosing to stay in the Army at the end of their five year commitment or not. Their choices will lead them apart and together throughout their careers. For training. For weddings. For funerals. (Be thou at peace.) For Reunions. In A Time Of War is an emotional roller coaster.

Those serving in the military have similar stories to Todd Bryant, Drew Sloan, Tricia LeRouc Birdsell, Tim Moshier, Will Tucker, Dave Swanson, Joe Dasilva, and the other Soldiers' stories told inside. These are not characters in a book, these are real Soldiers serving their country and doing what they think is right. You will laugh, cry, get angry, laugh again, cry again, and smile at times. This is the story about their lives, the lives they touched, and the lives they continue to touch.

Bill Murphy Jr's book answers the question the Pentagon and "the higher ups" have been so confused about: "Why are the young combat experienced leaders getting out?" Well general, this book has the answer to the question the military keeps spending money trying to get. Give it a read.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Caleb S. Cage on September 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The West Point class of 2002 graduated to the words of President George W. Bush sending them to war. It was not the first time that a major foreign policy speech coincided with an academy graduation, but it was certainly the first one that mattered on such a personal level to the roughly 1,000 members of West Point's Bicentennial class.

The first book detailing the experiences of this class, David Lipsky's _Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point_, captured the carefree nature of a class consumed with its own day-to-day survival. It accurately depicted the innocence of the 20-somethings focusing on what they believed to be the biggest challenge in their lives: graduation. Bill Murphy Jr.'s book, _In a Time of War: The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point' Class of 2002_, captures the essence of the class after the reality of its future in combat zones has set in.

Murphy applies his remarkable journalistic talent to the stories of several classmates whose stories manage to be both extraordinary and representative of the whole at the same time. Murphy clearly gained the trust of his subjects in the interviewing process, and he did them justice by telling a story of which they can be proud.

His narrative plumbs the depths of the disparate personal histories that led to the choice of a career in the military, the emotions evoked from multiple deployments, and in its most powerful moments, the stories of those left behind by the fallen. His style, vivid and powerful, often leaves the reader on a hillside in Afghanistan, or on an Army base in Kansas.

This book will leave the reader hoping for a second volume. I cannot endorse it heartily enough.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Alan L. Chase VINE VOICE on October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have just completed Bill Murphy's moving book, "In a Time of War - The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002." The book is both gut-wrenching and heart-rending, yet it also leaves the reader inspired and proud of the young men and women who left West Point in the summer of 2002 to answer the call to fight the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The title of the book is drawn from the speech that President Bush gave to the West Point Class of 2002 as they graduated and were commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants in the U.S. Army. I was in the audience that summer day and heard him utter those words. I also have personal relationships with several dozens members of the West Point Class of 2002, so for me the book was particularly poignant. I have followed several of these soldiers through their multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. This book added to the depth of my understanding of the challenges they have faced as they lived and fought, sweated and bled, in those far off places.

Bill Murphy describes himself, in essence, as someone who has served in the military (as an Army Reserve officer), but without great distinction. He has, without question, distinguished himself in his ability to grasp the essence of the West Point experience for a representative sampling of graduates of the Class of 2002, and to bring the reader inside their lives as they took their West Point training and became officers serving our nation in a time of war.

"This, for Todd [Bryant], was the essence of West Point. `Duty, honor, country' was the academy's motto, and everyone talked constantly about honor and commitment, loyalty and patriotism. All that was true and good, but stripped of its pomp and circumstance, the place was really about love.
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