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Breathing the Fire: Fighting to Survive, and Get Back to the Fight Paperback – November 1, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

On Memorial Day 2007, award-winning CBS foreign correspondent Dozier's life changed forever. She and her crew were covering a routine patrol in Baghdad when they were hit by a car bomb that left four people dead and Dozier with massive injuries to her legs and head. Here, she recounts her struggle to stay alive, her survivor's guilt, and her road to recovery. An engaging and compelling book whose delivery is strengthened by Dozier's experience as a journalist and radio broadcaster; recommended for all public libraries. [Audio clip, author interview, and CBS video footage taken moments after the blast available through www.tantor.com.—Ed.]—Emma Duncan, Brampton Lib., Ont.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

The book is fairly gritty and unvarnished about the hospital and recovery process, so hospital staff recommend that loved ones read it to understand what a patient is going through. Military commanders say the blow-by-blow of the bombing also starts conversations between troops and loved ones about what they've seen overseas.

Kimberly Dozier is a former CBS news correspondent who became the news during an embed assignment in Baghdad over the Memorial Day weekend in 2006. What was to be a 'routine' assignment, if such a thing existed, turned into a hellish nightmare after a 500 pound car bomb was detonated at the scene. Assigned to follow a patrol over the holiday while Americans at home were eating their barbeque and doing their best to forget about the war, the incident put the war back 'above the fold'. Four members of the party, Captain ames Alex Funkhouser, USA, CBS cameraman Paul Douglas, CBS soundman James Brolan and Captain Funhouser's Iraqi translator, Sam, died at the scene, all but Douglas, instantly. Breathing the Fire is Dozier's account of that day and the aftermath it wrought. The story is engrossing, and as a reporter, Dozier makes it a compelling read. The book opens with Dozier setting the scene the night before the assignment. From there she darts back and forth through time, recounting the story as well as how she put the pieces of the story together. Not unusually for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) sufferer, it took a lot of time and a lot of digging to get the pieces to fall into place. She had to rely on information from outside sources until her slowly recovering brain could fill in all the facts. Breathing the Fire gives an in-depth view of trauma care and a small glimpse of the people who provide it. Dozier sets the scene from the Baghdad street corner all the way through her return to work. Included are stops at the Combat Support Hospital (CSH) in Baghdad's Green Zone and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a "way station" in Germany for injured troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as troops based in Germany and their family members. From there Dozier is transferred to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and finally to Kernan Hospital for further rehabilitation. Through each step, Dozier paints a vivid picture of her injuries, her pain and her care. The tale is emotionally raw and honest. She describes the toll that the bomb took not only on her and her loved ones, but those of the other victims as well. She talks to other service members from the scene as well as family members of those that were lost. In the process, she also tells the story of how she got to her position in Baghdad. The book is really an autobiography of her entire life, including her fight to return to 'normal life' and get back in the field. Overall, this was a riveting read; almost in stream-of-consciousness mode, the pages keep turning as the tale moves along. The faults are few: Dozier shows a tendency to repeat herself occasionally; the quickly shifting timeline can be a little confusing at times; she also tends to break situations, things and people into simply dichotomies. There is very little grey; there is good and there is evil. And, with very few exceptions, regarding people, the split is class-based: military figures in the field are all good, administrators, not so much. Nurses and corpsmen are good, doctors tend to be evil. (This is one area where exceptions can be found, notably Dr. Dunne at Bethesda) Additionally, Dozier spends a decent amount of the book justifying herself, her life and her career choices. While understandable given the context, at times it doesn't come across very well. She mentions in the postscript to the paperback edition that with some time and distance, she saw the writing as "angry" and chose not to edit that out, as it was her true self at that time. I didn't sense anger so much as defensiveness and I don't know that Dozier has anything about which to be defensive.

This is the best book I've read about being blown up in Iraq, nearly dying, and recovering. Kim, one of the more courageous people I've ever met, is donating all profits to charities for wounded soldiers. So what are you waiting for?
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing; Revised, Updated ed. edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565236157
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565236158
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,553,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I pre-ordered this book because I have known Kim since college. I looked at the pictures but couldn't bring myself to read the book right away. I was afraid I couldn't handle the truth - another one of our college friends had visited Kim during her rehab in Baltimore and had told me how she was doing then, and I was scared of reading the whole story. So, I only picked up the book now, three months later. I figured it was finally time to find out the whole truth.

It was not an easy read. But, as they say, "war is hell." And Kim takes us on her all too real journey and out the other side. She not only shows us how she survived covering the war in Iraq, but also how she navigated a medical system in which some professionals don't always listen to their patients, but also shows us how the best ones do. She exposes a news business in which women journalists are sometimes judged not only by their skills but also on their looks. She reveals her truth, which while not always pretty, is ultimately beautiful. She also admits her fear of failure, something many women of our generation have had to conquer, although perhaps none of us quite so vividly and with the world watching.

Kim's book truly is a tribute to those who were lost that day, those who survived, and all those who help the survivors, including Kim. The truth of this war, indeed of any war, is an ugly one, but this book offers us a glimpse behind the curtain. It is vitally important that we look.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Dozier has written a compelling look behind the scene of modern day war coverage. Her day by day account of her near-death experience and recovery should be mandatory reading for journalism students. The book also stands a wonderful tribute to her slain co-workers.
I really liked this book and would recommend it to all.
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Format: Hardcover
Kimberly Dozier has done an outstanding job of telling her story with a perspective that few other journalists could provide. Her tenacity and her will to survive and regain her health, along with her desire to honor her crew and the military men who did not make for an unforgettable read.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book thinking, "I am not sure if I can relate to this". War stories are not my reading genre of choice. But, I had met Kim over the phone one day and so received an e-mail from her letting me and all her address book addressees that her book had been published. So, I ordered one from Amazon not quite knowing what to expect. This book is so NOT a war story. It is the courageous story of a woman with a goal who achieved that goal, a goal which led her into combat where a life-changing event changed her life forever, as well as so many other lives. I was drawn in the moment I started reading. Kim's writing is clear, concise, factual, with just the right amount of emotion and personality. She lets people in to her very personal yet very public experience without a hint of self pity or any reference to a "poor me" attitude. The book is an inspiring one about a woman of intelligence, bravery, dedication, and love who dared to follow her dream, went through a nightmare, and is today a source of strength to people chasing a dream or living with their own struggle.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Full disclaimer here; I'm actually in this book, I was Kimberly's cameraman when she worked in Israel for CBS and was with her on an almost disasteous drive from the Jordan border into the midst of the Iraq war on the 10th April, 2003.

We worked 14-24 hours a day together reporting for CBS.

Kimberly is one of the most driven, dedicated journalists I've ever worked with, to the point where I had to slow her down sometimes and get her to take a break. We didn't always get along or see eye to eye, but that's how it is under pressure.

Her story is not glamourous, it's gritty, direct and it's how it went down for her in a modern day war zone. The politics, the pain, the stress and the guilt at losing colleagues in war.

Where you hear the term, "wounded in combat", this book will help you understand what soldiers and civilians go through.
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Format: Hardcover
NOT SURE WHY IT SAYS MEMORIAL DAY 2007. IT WAS MAY 29TH 2006. I WAS THERE THAT DAY. I have considered buying this book, but am afraid the details would be too much to recall. I remember we got back from that mission and Yahoo.com had pictures on the main webpage showing my fellow soldiers and bodies on the ground. The photo was uploaded by someone in the traffic circle in a building a few stories up, based on picture analysis. Chances are, the Iraqi that posted the pic knew about the attack. Either way...that's the day I stopped paying attention to the media. For those of you who do read this book, I encourage you to watch the videos Dozier did with the wife of my company commander James A. Funkhouser, Captain. Not a day goes by I don't think about his wife and children. You're Not Forgotten Captain Funk!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What comes through in BREATHING THE FIRE is Dozier's skill as a storyteller. She is a reporter through and through, even when relaying her own story. Without fail she delivers the telling detail. Her story of injury, recovery, loss, and ultimately hope needs no embellishment and she gives it none. A frank, compelling, and inspiring read from a courageous and insightful individual.
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