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They Fought for Each Other: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 2, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist and former soldier Kennedy makes a solid contribution to a growing body of frontline reportage from Iraq in this account based on her series of articles in Army Times. The book tells the story of a rifle company's fight against long odds in a Baghdad neighborhood. Adhamiya was No One's Land, a place of random violence dominated by insurgents and criminals. The 1/26th Infantry did 15 months there, took more casualties than any U.S. battalion since Vietnam, and completed its tour with at least a simulacrum of civil order restored. Kennedy's account of Adhamiya's costs to Charlie Company is shaped by her own military service in Desert Storm. Urban combat, counterinsurgency, and civic action combined in a toxic brew that made mental health injuries more prevalent than physical ones. But to endure the fears, nightmares and grief, men had to look out for each other. That mutual caring brought Charlie Company through. It gives Kennedy her title, informs her work, and above all reaffirms the scars war leaves on those who fight. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Mar. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This better-than-most Iraq story deals with a company of the 26th Infantry Regiment that in the 2007 surge suffered heavier casualties than did any other such unit. It was engaged in one of the most hostile sections of Bagdad; one popular NCO committed suicide; one platoon effectively mutinied; and altogether, the company passed through a grim year. About all that kept the men sane and fighting was a rare degree of unit cohesion, which we see through the eyes of a number of key people, well-characterized by embedded Army Times reporter Kennedy, who despite her service ties paints the Iraq War warts and all. An honorable addition to Iraq War literature. --Roland Green

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312570767
  • ASIN: B004A14W8G
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kelly Kennedy ( served in the United States Army from 1987 to 1993, including tours in the Middle East during Desert Storm, and in Mogadishu, Somalia. After earning her journalism degree at Colorado State University in 1997, she began her writing career as an education reporter for the Ogden Standard-Examiner in Utah, a criminal justice reporter at The Salt Lake Tribune, and a family and education reporter with the Oregonian in Portland. While earning a master's degree in journalism at the University of Colorado, Kennedy taught journalism classes at both her alma mater and the University of Northern Colorado. After completing her master's degree, she worked an internship at The Chicago Tribune before arriving in 2005 at Army Times. She began work as a health policy reporter in 2010 at USA TODAY, where she continues to cover health issues in Desert Storm veterans, as well as health issues associated with burn pits and dust in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2010, she received an Honorary Mention John B. Oakes award for her reporting on burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Disabled American Veterans' Bugle Award for the burn pit stories and her book, They Fought for Each Other. In 2008, she was named a finalist for the Michael Kelly Award for a series about a unit she embedded with in Iraq. She is also a 2008 Ochberg Fellow, sponsored by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma; and a 2008 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Foundation Fellow. She serves as president of Military Reporters & Editors. In her spare time, she dances ballet and completely loses her military bearing. You can find her at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Adam L. Small on March 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
this book was a very difficult read, having been a part of this unit, 1-26 Blue Spaders. Everyone in this book was a friend and brother to me and reading this brought back my own fears. Kelly did a fantastic job painting the picture to everyone who reads this as to what exactly we went thru, what all combat soldiers go thru, things that don't get shown on the 5 o'clock news. Thank you Kelly for writing our story, and thank you to all the guys of 1-26
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By "Doc" Roth on March 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book was very difficult to read, fighting back tears, and repressing memories better soon forgetten. I try everyday to remeber the "brothers" lost in combat, and everyday I try to forget the horror.
Kelly is a wonderful person, who wrote a wonderful book that vividly portrays the actuality of war.
Thank you, Kelly, for writing this. Thank you, 1/26...Charlie Company are Warriors...
Let us not forget that many were lost during that fifteen months...Much love to my fellow Blue Spaders!
"Doc" Roth
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By AT on March 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Outstanding book that takes a hard honest look at the realities of Soldiers in combat. It also shows the struggles that they faced after loosing so many of there brothers in arms. Amazing book. A must read for those who want to see what our Soldiers sacrifice every day.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would probably give this maybe 4 stars for the actual writing, but it's a five-star book as far as what it brings to Iraq War literature and reportage. There are superior books - "Good Soldiers," "Black Hearts," among them - but as far as getting into the deep details of an infantry company's deployment to Iraq, this does an exceptional job. While it might not be the first book you should choose, it should be on your shelf.

It is never preachy and rarely emphasises overly-exaggerated heroics. The truth is good enough. And, it's a real accomplishment that Kennedy pulled so much of this reporting together, considering she was present for very little of it. It takes an enormous amount of organization to create a narrative like this, grafting numerous sources and timelines all together.

My only 'complaint' is that Kennedy herself is missing TOO much. She was present for SOME of the events, and it would have been a good shift to see her perspective a little more clearly - not as a biography, but just so we can get a more personal look at these events, rather than ALL reportage. And, since she's an Army war veteran herself, that perspective was one that could have brought an interesting new level to the story. It's her story, too, so why not utilize her own experiences and observations a little more? In David Finkel's great book, "The Good Soldiers," he never 'appears' in the narrative, but it's clear to the reader when he's actually present for events, and that style is something that might have worked for Kennedy as well.

At times, the entire book seemed a little too 'newspapery' and not literary enough. Which makes sense, since it began as a newspaper series. That's not a negative critique - just reality.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joan Baxer on April 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book as our youngest son served with this unit in Iraq during his first deployment there. A lot of the soldiers names were familiar to me, and some of the events were as well. I attended Ross McGinnis's burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, met the family and learned a lot about this 19 year old who sacrificed his life for his "brothers". Our son has "compartmentalized" many of the horrid things that occurred during his time in Adhamiyah, and I wanted to learn all about this hard hit group. I'm starting to read it a second time right now; my husband is also reading it. Learn about what they faced and how they lived; they were on patrol constantly.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By W. Speers on May 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is another fine book about the Iraq conflict around the time of the surge. I read this book right after reading the riveting Black Hearts by Jim Frederick. This book is a great comparison piece to that one. This book reveals the troops of the 1/26th, First Infantry Division, an infantry division just as legendary, if not more so, than the 101st Air Assault Division.

In this book, the leadership seems to have done things pretty much right. The author reports on a unit that, despite numerous deaths and woundings, maintains its cohesion in the face of near-daily casualites, and who manage to take decent control of their AO despite conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ites, Mahdists and the government, the insurgents, and between pretty much everyone and the Americans. The first thing is officers who give a damn about their troops, were committed to them and show it; next, the troops take responsibility for themselves. Good supply and support helped a lot. Having a place where they could retreat from the pressures of being constantly at risk, where they could depressurize a little (albeit not very much, but enough). Finally, the men were bonded with one another far better than Bravo Company of 1/502d in Black Hearts.

The men in the two books don't seem to have been all that much different, but the 1/26 seems to have had a more workable mix of men. The experiences of the two units seem pretty similar in intensity and difficulty, but the units each responded differently in ways critical to their well-being.

The recent publication of books about units in Iraq has been very eye-opening for me, and I think it should be for all readers interested in trying to get a flavor of the experience of our combat troops at war in these present days. They Fought For Each Other is an outstanding addition to that body of literature.
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