From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Sheeler (Obit: Inspirational Stories of People Who Led Extraordinary Lives
) pays eloquent tribute to the soldiers who have died in Iraq and their devastated families. The author spent two years shadowing Maj. Steve Beck, a marine in charge of casualty notification, as he delivered the news of battlefield death to families. Sheeler puts readers in Beck's shoes as he walks up to houses, delivers the knock on the door so dreaded by military families and tries to comfort distraught spouses and parents. Sheeler provides intimate sketches of the fallen soldiers—like Marine Staff Sgt. Sam Holder, who died while drawing enemy fire away from an injured comrade—and follows up as grieving families try to put their lives back together. The children left behind are often the most tragic figures: the young son of army PFC Jesse Givens asks if he can be a little boy again when he goes to heaven so that he can play with his dad. Dedicated to everyone who opened the door, Sheeler's book is a devastating account of the sacrifices military families make and should be required reading for all Americans. (May)
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" One of the great underreported stories of the Iraq war."
-Janet Maslin, The New York Times
" A must-read account."
-The Wall Street Journal
" A powerful counterpoint to the impersonal statistics and verbal camouflage of military euphemisms that sanitize the true horror of war and dehumanize those who serve."
-The Washington Post Book World