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The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family Hardcover – March 1, 2007

106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Violent resistance in post-invasion Iraq kicked into high gear on April 4, 2004, when American troops in Sadr City faced a massive assault that claimed eight soldiers' lives and wounded more than 70 others. Raddatz, an Emmy-winning correspondent for ABC News, clearly aims to equal the storytelling in Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down in her account of the battle, and hits the mark with distinction. Extensive interviews with the commanding officers of the army's 1st Cavalry division and the soldiers pinned down in the streets provide a clear narrative of how U.S. troops, prepared for "a babysitting mission," found themselves in a bloodbath, as efforts to rescue the first soldiers fired upon met with even greater resistance from Mahdi militiamen who did not hesitate to use small children as frontline attackers. Heroic moments abound, like Casey Sheehan's volunteering to take another man's place on the rescue team, which resulted in his death. Raddatz touches upon the reaction of his mother, noted antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, but this is just one of many perspectives from families on the home front. The gripping account eschews politics and focuses squarely on the soldiers and their sacrifices. (Mar. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Raddatz, the chief White House correspondent for ABC News, has also spent considerable time not on the White House lawn or in the pressroom but covering, in person, the war in Iraq. To personalize war is usually the province of fiction and cinema, with nonfiction often left to be the more analytical side of war coverage. But here Raddatz infuses, with a professional elan belying the fact that this is her first book, her observations with the immediacy and even the discomfort that a novel would be expected to bring home to the reader (the discomfort being an unavoidable but perhaps necessary byproduct of any realistic depiction of war). Home is a particularly appropriate word here, because the home front is the flip side of her account. She's right there describing in horrific detail all the blood and guts, fear and anguish and bravery, of what the men and women she talked to and learned from endured on the front line. But she alternates these graphic scenes with poignant ones from back home, where mothers and wives await their loved-ones' deployment or dread the fateful knock on the door with bad news. To read her succinct, trenchant prose is to experience what we may not want to experience--but need to. There is considerable publisher push behind this book, so expect demand. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399153829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399153822
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Military Wife on March 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be a very thorough and accurate description of the unrelenting bravery of our military, the hell our soldiers go through during combat, and the emotional strain that the families back home endure. The Long Road Home is very well written and should appeal to a variety of audiences, both male and female. It is important for the American public to fully understand what going to war means for our military and its families, and Martha Raddatz has captured this impeccably in her book.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the problems in understanding what is happening in Iraq is in understanding what our soldiers are facing there. Too often, we forget that understanding of World War II and Korea came many years afterwards. It is always dangerous to think that news sound bytes or third hand analysis will provide for you what you need to know. Martha Raddatz had done some especially important reporting in this book that I believe everyone should read. At least everyone who cares about what is actually going on over there.

I want to emphasize the quality and style of the reporting. It is rare nowadays for a reporter to not also telegraph their own politics and opinions of the events they describe. Raddatz has higher standards. It is impossible for the reader to be sure about her thoughts about the events. Oh, you might project some onto her words, but if you carefully read what is on the page you cannot honestly infer her views. This is all one can ask of a reporter and Raddatz delivers.

The book centers on the battle that took place in Sadr City on April 4, 2004. A platoon that had newly arrived in Iraq was assigned the glorious daily detail of cleaning up the rivers of raw sewage the run in the streets. It isn't that the sewage runs because of wrecked sewers. There just are not any. This is normal life for these folks. One would think these folks would be grateful for the help. Instead, the Shia Muslims that made up the local population decided to declare their independence by attacking this maintenance detail. Hundreds of militia began firing at them.

The vehicles used for such work were not all armored and while they were armed they were not prepared for fighting on this scale. They quickly found an alleyway and commandeered a house and set up a defense.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Chris Mclaughlin on March 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you are prepared to know firsthand what our troops and the people who love them are facing day in and day out while we go about our lives in the safety of our borders read this book. It'll break your heart and make you proud...yes, we have gotten ourselves in a mess but that does not minimize the sacrifice our soldiers are facing everyday...and their families...such courage in the face of overwhelming adversity. Thank you Martha for one of the most, if not THE most important book about the Iraq War/Civil War.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John Moore on April 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Thanks go to Martha and her incredibly talented staff for producing a great book that really describes that day.

I commanded the Crusaders, a tank company from 1st Armored Division, that was literally in the very last hours of our tour in Iraq when this fight took place. In the aftermath, we would be extended 3 months and fight almost the whole time. Combat is very subjective and perceptions of it are dramatically different, even among soldiers in the same unit, given their age, level of experience, and most importantly, their level of responsibility. Keep in mind that almost all of the key leaders in this book were in their early 30s, or more often in their 20s.

I would encourage readers to try to envision the emotional impact of this battle on a battalion that had just arrived in Iraq, the Lancers (2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment). It has been painful for me to read criticism of the decisions made that affected the rescue of Commanche Red Platoon that day. Combat, especially close urban combat in the first day of an insurgency in which there is no precedent, requires very rapid decisions that will be life and death for all soldiers involved. Lancer Battalion proved that day that they were very capable fighters and very good at developing tactics very quickly that would help us achieve our objectives. As American soldiers, we never ever leave our fallen behind. This is a huge part of our identity. The Lancers fought very heroically and their leaders made the right decisions to get those boys out of there. I would challenge anyone to do better.

All of the soldiers I fought with that day fought like tigers. I was not disappointed by a single man.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Daniel on November 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I fought in this battle, I treated and remember many of the dead and wounded men described in this book. I kept a written memory of my feelings and memories from April 4th that I jotted down in the days afterward. Unfortunately, "The Long Road Home" is no Blackhawk Down and Martha Raddatz isn't the caliber of writer and especially not researcher that Mark Bowden (author of BHD) was. It seemed that Ms. Raddatz was more interested in telling a story and projecting some very general philosophies and cliched lessons learned from American war. In the same style of Band of Brothers, or other Stephen Ambrose classics (which were VERY well researched), however theres was a different generation, fighting for far different reasons. Rather than telling THE story, following the factual timeline, interviewing more participants and other units involved. Much of her initial research, I have to assume, was taken after interviews with the Commanders and senior leadership, some of whom had almost no involvement in this battle. They told their story first, and the book reads like they may want it to be read. I wonder if Custer had lived, would he tell a similar tale.

This clearly became the framework for her story and a positive, "it's just war" message permeates the entire book. She is critical of almost none of the planning or decisions made. Her interviews with the junior Officers and NCOs do not reflect any opinion they have, merely the sacrifices they made, and their recollections of the extreme violence, fear, and emotions they felt.

She took very little time to try to understand what happened, why it happened, or what should have happened, instead merely echoing some worn out ideals of American war and applying the civilian paintbrush.
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