From Publishers Weekly
This account of "the bloodiest battle in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein" in An Nasiriyah announces its overblown style in the first lines: "This is a story of heroism and sacrifice—of life and death. This is a story of today's Marine Corps." According to Lowry (The Gulf War Chronicles
), the Marines and Special Forces "snatched victory from the jaws of defeat" and rescued Private Jessica Lynch through compassionate heroism, despite the loss of 34 Americans, nearly half of whom died through accidents and friendly fire. An essential target in the first days of the Iraq war, An Nasiriyah held two bridges over the Euphrates. Fighting inside the city was not part of the plan, but became inevitable when communications faltered and after Lynch's supply unit blundered into Iraqi positions. With admirable courage, U.S. forces fought through the streets, captured the bridges and rescued Lynch. Lowry's nuts-and-bolts description of the fight represents his strongest writing. Following the genre's convention of portraying individual soldiers, Lowry includes virtually everyone he interviewed; there are dozens of names, always followed by a flattering sketch (alternately "tough, yet fair" or "fair yet strict"). As additional evidence that these soldiers are America's finest, he quotes their patriotic statements, affectionate letters to their children, and their spouses' always favorable opinions. It took immense research to produce such detail, but Lowry's gushing account may not extend far beyond the Marines involved and their families. (June)
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An embedded reporter with the First Marine Division provides this excellent monograph on the Battle of An Nasiriyah. The first major ground engagement of the second Iraq War, the battle began with the ambush of the 5307th Maintenance Company amid poor visibility and, one suspects, faulty intelligence. The marines quickly recovered their balance and tactical proficiency, and in close--quarters, combined-arms combat liberated the city from its own defenders' reign of terror. They also freed POW Private Jessica Lynch, about whom Lowry offers no sensational revelations. What he does offer is an excellent battle narrative, which, thanks to extensive interviewing, shifts from one unit to another, depending on which was most closely engaged. The result may not please antiwar readers, but probably neither Lowry nor the marines had the slightest intention of doing that. A book that adds considerably to knowledge of the state of the U.S. Marines and the variety of human beings who "are proud to bear the title." Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved