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What Was Asked of Us: An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It Hardcover – November 2, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (November 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316016705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316016704
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,536,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The thing about fighting in a war, relates one soldier in this penetrating, terrifying and important book, "is that there's no way to put into words what actually happened." Yet with these brutally straightforward accounts by 29 American veterans of the Iraq War, Wood—an award-winning Canadian investigative reporter—proves her own subject wrong. Wood's deftness as interviewer and editor renders her own presence scarce, freeing each soldier to provide firsthand looks at botched reconstruction efforts, intelligence snafus and the practicalities of heroism. Among these stories by soldiers from widely varying ideological and personal backgrounds, unexpected examples are the born-again Christian, appalled by the abuse he witnesses at Abu Ghraib, who asks, "America, what always makes us right?"; and the ex-drug addict, a self-described "left-wing nut," who calls the war "a meaningless conflict" yet acknowledges that "I loved every firefight I was in because for those few brief seconds nothing else matters." Colloquial, coarse and compelling, these narratives flash with humor, horror, nihilism and poesy. Despite the layers of tragedy, the ascendant message is one of courage and self-sacrifice amid war's absurdities. 16 pages b&w photos. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Wood, an investigative journalist who has been working with veterans of the Iraq war for more than two years, compiles interviews with 29 veterans of the war. Most interviewees describe their experiences in a chilling, matter-of-fact manner, but the raw savagery of the events they witnessed and the violence they endured and perpetrated make this a powerful tale of men at war. A navy corpsman goes from boredom and antsiness waiting for the war to begin in Kuwait to the chaos and confusion of a tank battle to the shock of having a soldier die in his arms. An infantryman sounds curiously detached as he relates his reactions to a suicide bombing that killed a close friend. A tank gunner coldly and without apology states his readiness to "slap around" civilians if firing came from their vicinity. Wood does not seem to have a political agenda, since the soldiers she quotes are neither pro- nor antiwar. Instead, her efforts are simply a reminder of the horrors of war as seen by those who fight it. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Thank you for sharing our stories!
Toby Winn
It is a book everyone should read, particularly those who support the war, in my opinion.
Loribee
The author did a great job depicting the Marines and soldiers stories!
Mary Kate Cotnoir

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Erik K. Gustafson on November 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book reveals once more the power of stories. No matter how many hours of cable news, talking heads, and political speeches you may have seen, or commentaries you may have read, when it comes down to it, it's the men and women who were there who can tell us the most. Trish has done an outstanding job compiling one of the first oral histories of the Iraq War. I can not overstate the importance of this book. In reading it, no American can take another breath without feeling a debt of gratitude and a sense of responsibility for what we have asked (and continue to ask) of today's military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. A. King on November 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In "What was Asked of Us," Trish Wood has captured the true nature of war. The challenges of combat requires a team effort, but each individual's experience is very personal. The personal experiences of the 29 soldiers and Marines who share their stories with Trish takes her readers onto the battlefield and into the fight. It is "a must read" for those who have been there and for those who have not.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By panthercat on January 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a Veteran I felt obligated to see what our troops were experiencing in Iraq. Every chapter was the experience of a survivor, whether they came out of it intact or in pieces, who told about their buddies who didn't make it. These are the men and women who went to war believing in the weapons of mass destruction, but quickly discovered there weren't any. How on their first tour in the sand they were liked by the Iraqis, but by the time their second tour rolled around they were hated. How promises were made by others that the troops couldn't keep, which disappointed the Iraqi people even more. There was the little girl's shoe. Unfortunately her foot was still in it and the rest of her was nowhere to be seen after the explosion. A common thread that ran through most of the chapters was a request for honesty as to why they were actually sent. Some said it was all over oil, but they just want honesty from the United States government. There was little or no political correctness and I believe the Chaplain was the only one who didn't curse. I've already loaned out my copy. It should be on the best seller lists. For those who believe placing a stupid yellow ribbon on their SUV is sufficient sacrifice, GUESS AGAIN!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Loribee VINE VOICE on December 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is the story of the war in Iraq, out of the mouths of the people who have been there fighting it. It has no political agenda, just the words of soldiers and marines who have done one or more tours of duty there. After reading it, I wondered even more "why are we there?"

It is sometimes gruesome, often sad, but it is, more than anything, a real look at what's happening over there. Most of the people interviewed have no illusions - only one actually believes there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, although I believe 30 or more were interviewed.

It is an interesting, albeit upsetting read - one can't help but wonder how these soldiers, many of them kids, really, are going to recover mentally from what they have had to do in Iraq, just to stay alive. It is also a story of "brothers" wanting to fight for their "brothers". A few recognized the fact that there was going to be a civil war no matter what they did, and felt that our presence there was futile. They are professional military, and they are doing their jobs, but feel the people in Washington have no idea what is going on on the ground there, and pay no attention to what is really needed.

My heart breaks for the men interviewed, as well as for their fallen comrades, and the innocent Iraqi's that died. The book doesn't leave you with much hope for the war itself, but it does tell you a lot about the young men and women who are fighting it, and fighting to keep their humanity, too.

It is a book everyone should read, particularly those who support the war, in my opinion. Although it is difficult to read at times, at least for people like me, who don't have particularly strong stomachs, it is also necessary - we are the ones who allowed them to be sent there. I think it is important that we know exactly what we sent them into.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a Marine, i am constantly asked what i think of the Iraq war and what my friends who are there now think. I never truly answer that question.

Anyone who has never been in war should read this book before making an opinion on what is happening in Iraq. Family members of our warriors who are going there, are there, or have been there, should read this book to gain an understanding of what their loved ones are suffering.

To fellow warriors who have been there, read this book, but handle with extreme care.

Semper Fi
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Washburn on February 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What happened in Iraq? What's happening now? Is it as bad as some say? Could things have turned out different? These questions are being asked on a daily basis, and it seems only those who don't truly know are the ones giving the answers. It would be nice to hear from someone who's been there, someone who experienced it first-hand. That's exactly what this book brings to the table.

This is not political, so don't expect spin or slant. The politics stops on page one. That in itself is refreshing. Rarely is there any discussion of Iraq without politics quickly becoming involved and, frankly, I've had enough of it. This is different. This is the war from the soldier's point of view. In short, this is Iraq as it really happened.

We see it every time some bonehead reporter sticks a microphone in the dirty, grease-ridden face of a soldier in Iraq and asks that soldier if he thinks the war is right. For a brief second, the soldier has a certain look on his face. It's frustration. It's pity. It's "you-don't-know-what-you're-talking-about" all rolled into one. It's the look of a soldier who knows his job, and does what's asked of him. The "right" and "wrong" can be left up to the politicians. The soldiers don't discuss that until the job is done. Many of those soldiers do just that in this book. And like Wood says, America has an obligation to hear what they've had to say. Until now, we've only heard from the politicians, and it's evident to me that they have no clue what's going on over there. So it's about time we hear from those who do know, and this book fits that mold perfectly.

In this book, you'll get first hand descriptions of the war. You'll hear about the first days of the invasion and the first major battle within the city of Nazariya.
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