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Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and The New Face of American War Hardcover – June 17, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 352 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wright rode into Iraq on March 20, 2003, with a platoon of First Reconnaissance Battalion Marines—the Marine Corps' special operations unit whose motto is "Swift, Silent, Deadly." These highly trained and highly motivated First Recon Marines were the leading unit of the American-led invasion force. Wright wrote about that experience in a three-part series in Rolling Stone that was hailed for its evocative, accurate war reporting. This book, a greatly expanded version of that series, matches its accomplishment. Wright is a perceptive reporter and a facile writer. His account is a personality-driven, readable and insightful look at the Iraq War's first month from the Marine grunt's point of view. It jibes with other firsthand reports of the first phase of the Iraqi invasion (including David Zucchino's Thunder Run), showing the unsettling combination of feeble and vicious resistance put up by the Iraqi army, the Fedayeen militiamen and their Syrian allies against American forces bulldozing through towns and cities and into Baghdad. Wright paints compelling portraits of a handful of Marines, most of whom are young, street-smart and dedicated to the business of killing the enemy. As he shows them, the Marines' main problem was trying to sort out civilians from enemy fighters. Wright does not shy away from detailing what happened when the fog of war resulted in the deaths and maimings of innocent Iraqi men, women and children. Nor does he hesitate to describe intimately the few instances in which Marines were killed and wounded. Fortunately, Wright is not exposing the strengths and weaknesses of a new generation of American fighting men, as the misleadingly hyped-up title and subtitle indicate. Instead, he presents a vivid, well-drawn picture of those fighters in action on the front lines in the blitzkrieg-like opening round of the Iraq War.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Its timeliness notwithstanding, this chronicle of an American reconnaissance platoon's mission to spearhead the invasion of Iraq is not one of those hastily thrown together "instant books." The author was the only journalist to travel with First Recon. He joined the platoon in March 2003 and traveled with its soldiers into combat missions (including the assault on Baghdad in April). His book is not about the war itself but about one group of men who fought in it. Today's American soldiers, Wright says, are young men who are "on more intimate terms with the culture of the video games, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own families." (One 19-year-old corporal compares driving into an ambush to a Grand Theft Auto video game: "It was fucking cool.") Wright also explores how today's pop-culture-driven soldiers differ from those who fought more than three decades ago in Vietnam. A perceptive, often troubling examination of soldiers' view of war, peace, and combat. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (June 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399151931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399151934
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book covers what we at 1st Recon called "The Best Spring Break Ever". Wright does an outstanding job accurately portraying the personalities of the operators of Bravo company. As a member of Charlie and H&S company I can verify that he is fairly accurate in his recalling of most events our Battalion faced. The only thing I found inaccurate is that he portrays many Officers to be incompetent. In reality there was a few morons in charge, but the vast majority were fairly good guys. This is fairly standard throughout the military. Also he took a lot of the things we said out of context and interpreted it to make us sound angry all the time(except Tim B., he really is angry all the time). All in all this book is 80%fact 20%spin. Regardless, it captures the general feelings and experiences that we in 1st Recon lived through.
-November Echo four Romeo
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Format: Hardcover
I'm glad to read a story about the Marines that is uncensored - with the high expectations of the American people set by the greatest generation that ever lived I found it impossible to live up to Steven Spielberg's version of "Band of Brothers". Being a Marine in 1st Recon Bn, Evan Wright's interpretation of our daily lives and experiences are extremely accurate. While reading the book almost a year later I had forgotten some of the details of my own experiences that Wright brought back to life. It was almost like I was living through the war again. Simply put, if you want to know what it is like to be a Marine during this campaign there is no better book at this time. It seems to me that Evan Wright was influenced by nothing but the experiences and the personalities that he absorbed during the war. No one is over exaggerated.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you can only read one account of the Iraq War, this should be it. Wright spent about a month with a squad of recon Marines -- essentially the special forces of the corps -- and his account is nothing short of gripping.

It is also exhausting, as Wright subjects the reader to a full range of emotion -- from joy to appalling horror to pride. Wright has a keen eye for the details that bring the stories of the war to life. The banter between the soldiers is fascinating and frequently hilarious, and is definitely a highlight of the book. No other account brings you closer to the men who slugged this thing out as they barreled across the Iraqi desert.

It is useful to keep in mind that this book calls the shots as they are seen from a small group of soldiers on the frontline of the war. What this book is not is a comprehensive overview of the run-up to the war or of the overall strategy employed by the U.S. military. The soldiers often gripe about certain officers and decisions taken at the higher levels. Some of the complaints are balanced out with alternate views. Wright's account is valuable not for its even-handed treatment of every side in a particular issue, but for giving insight into how the men on the ground met and dealt with problems that cropped up during their historic mission.

The book does dwell on a lot of the mishaps encountered by the soldiers. Among the headaches endured by Wright's squad: a lack of lubricating oil to keep their weapons functioning properly, muffed radio communication thanks to incompatible encryption, and general cluelessness about the true nature of their mission, which was basically to drive through enemy positions to draw fire so their position/size/strength could be estimated.
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Format: Hardcover
Whether you were for or against Gulf War II, this is essential reading about it. Rolling Stone writer Wright was embedded with an elite U.S. Marine reconnaissance unit that was often at the "tip of the point of the spear" during the invasion of Iraq. He spent approximately two months with them, riding shotgun in a Humvee as they were used as ambush-bait in the push north. The result is brilliant front-lines reportage that's at turns harrowing, hilarious, shocking, and chaoticóreflecting the reality of combat at its most basic level. The book's title is provocative, designed to sell rather than describe the contents. And yet, Wright does have something to say about the new generation of American soldiers sent to fight in Iraq: "These young men represent what is more or less America's first generation of disposable children. More than half of the guys in the platoon come from broken homes and were raised by absentee, single, working parents. Many are on more intimate terms with video games, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own parents."

Based on that excerpt, one might expect Wright to go on to provide a litany of the unit's worst excesses and examples of Marine Corps machismo and arrogance. Thankfully, he instead is interested in the men and not stereotypes, and manages to gain acceptance among them. Some have critiqued the book for thisóessentially saying that because Wright became tight with these Marines, he couldn't be objective about their actions. While it would be absurd to suggest that Wright operated under total objectivity, as a critique, it doesn't hold up. Most of the book is Wright just writing about what he sees happen and recounts the feelings the men share with him about their experiences.
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