- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 18, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812983610
- ISBN-13: 978-0812983616
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 727 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War Paperback – June 18, 2013
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“A story of men at their best and at their worst . . . leaves you gaping in admiration at Medal of Honor winner Dakota Meyer’s courage.”—National Review
“Meyer’s dazzling bravery wasn’t momentary or impulsive but deliberate and sustained.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[A] cathartic, heartfelt account . . . Combat memoirs don’t get any more personal.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A great contribution to the discussion of an agonizingly complex subject.”—The Virginian-Pilot
“Black Hawk Down meets Lone Survivor.”—Library Journal
“Into the Fire is a deeply compelling tale of valor and duty. Dakota Meyer will not identify as a hero, but he will, I think, accept the title warrior. Dakota's storytelling is precise and, for a Medal of Honor recipient, touchingly humble. With deft prose he drops us smack in the middle of one of the most heinous small unit firefights of the current wars. His insights into military tactics and politics in a war zone are sharp and uncompromising and work as a primer on infantry war fighting for the uninitiated. Dakota was a magnificent marine and he is now an equally magnificent chronicler of warfare and the small group of people who do today's fighting for America.”—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
“The story of what Dakota did . . . will be told for generations.”—President Barack Obama, from remarks given at Meyer’s Medal of Honor ceremony
“Sergeant Meyer embodies all that is good about our nation’s Corps of Marines. . . . [His] heroic actions . . . will forever be etched in our Corps’ rich legacy of courage and valor.”—General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps
“[Bing] West’s greatest strengths are his exceptional personal courage and his experienced perception of combat.”—The Washington Post
“West [is] the grunts’ Homer.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Dakota Meyer was born and raised in Columbia, Kentucky, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2006. A school-trained sniper and highly skilled infantryman, Corporal Meyer deployed to Iraq in 2007 and to Afghanistan in 2009. In 2011, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his unyielding courage in the battle of Ganjigal. He now competes at charity events in skeet and rifle competitions. He also speaks frequently at schools and veterans’ events to raise awareness of our military and remains dedicated to the causes of our veterans. For the families of fallen troops, he has raised over one million dollars.
Bing West, a Marine combat veteran, served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. He has been on hundreds of patrols in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A nationally acclaimed war correspondent, he is the author of The Village; No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah; The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq; and The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, West has received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation award, the Colby Award for military nonfiction, the Veterans of Foreign Wars News Media Award, and the Marine Corps University Foundation’s Russell Leadership Award. He lives with his wife, Betsy, in Newport, Rhode Island.
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First, genre. This book is an autobiography, centering largely on Meyers' experiences at the battle of Ganjigal and its aftermath. As a result, you are going to hear strong opinions, raw emotion, and bloody accounts. You may not agree with them. That is fine. But do not be shocked that this man, this Marine who came as close to Hell as the living can, has a lot to say about it. Again, this is an autobiography, written by the author about himself. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the author will have definite opinions about his own life, and that they do not always please the masses. That is not the point of an autobiography. If bloody imagery, angry recriminations against military leaders, and honest portrayal of personal attributes don't appeal to you, that is also fine. But autobiography is then not the genre for you. For rip-roaring accounts of military bravery where the good guys always win (and are perfect), the bad guys always lose, and no one dies, I suggest the fiction section. For everyone else, if you can handle the description above, you will probably appreciate this young man's account. It satisfies the requirements for an autobiography quite well. I would have liked to know more about the author's early life, but being that he seems naturally to be a man of few words--and that the book is about his combat experiences--I can easily overlook that.
As for the content, in the context of military literature, Meyers sums up the key points without becoming verbose. He does repeat certain points, but if you read the entire book, it is quite easy to see why! Some readers will find his lack of explanation of some of the acronyms frustrating. However, this problem is easily remedied by a Google search of any term not understood (just as you would look up words with which you were unfamiliar in a dictionary). I hope the possibility of encountering unfamiliar words will not discourage anyone from reading the book. There are maps and full-color pictures included in the book. I found the first confusing and the second illuminating. You may feel differently, but either way, these extras in no way detract from the reading. As far as actual text is concerned, while Meyers spends a lot of time downplaying his own actions, he simultaneously gives credit to those who helped that day. Those who appreciate fairness and humility in an autobiography will most likely enjoy this book. Some readers may find some of his comments about killing disturbing. That is understandable. I view these comments as coming from a grieving heart that has been trained for combat. I may not agree with every single thing the man says, but nor do I judge him for it.
Finally: writing meeting the target audience's requirements. Some books are written for children, some for adults, some for specific segments of the population, and some for everyone. This book was written for everyone. Meyers wants people to know what happened (in hopes it will never happen again) and to honor his friends. It is not written by an academic; it is written by a young man who signed up for the Marines at 17 years old. The writing is of a simple and unsophisticated style. Bing West, the acclaimed journalist who helped Meyers write the book, makes very clear that the words are Meyers', not West's. If simple, unpolished writing is not for you, that is fine. But choose a different book. I enjoyed it precisely because Meyers, the man who was actually there, is the narrator.
This book is uncompromising in its candor and unapologetic in its pathos. It is not pretty, sanitized, or neatly wrapped up at the end. Life isn't always that way, either. And that is what an autobiography is: the story of someone's life. In this case, it is the story of a combat veteran, and as such, it meets the requirements for a good story. Furthermore, if this man can live through these experiences and be brave enough to share them, I feel that the least I can do is respectfully and thoughtfully listen to what he has to say. I can consider the large-scale effects of war, as well as its effects on individuals, without lapsing into hasty judgments. My advice for potential readers is to focus on the story itself, for that more than meets the requirements for compelling autobiography.
Dakota was almost captured when a Taliban kushman tapped him on the shoulder while he was recovering the body of his Afghan soldier buddy. His quick thinking enabled him to stun the enemy soldier and kill him in hand to hand combat with a rock. This book describes the intensity of the fighting, of having bullets whiz past his ears and head, tilling up the ground around his feet during the operation, the numbness of treating other soldiers who were severely wounded, and finding bodies of friends who died when he was unable to help them due to higher ups in the chain of command.
I highly recommend this book if you wish to know what close combat is like in Afghanistan, and the gut wrenching terror and bravery that this US Marine displayed for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor!
But it has the typical punctuation-challenged writing that most books seem to have these days. I wish these publishing types would modernize their style guide like use of commas, get rid of all semicolons (just end the sentence), and parenthesis instead of dashes, em dashes, semicolons, and so on to separate essential from non-essential phrases/clauses. Nearly everything is an "aside" inside of an "aside." Like stuffing a sidebar into another sidebar, in the middle of a sentence. It's hard to figure out what the main sentence is. Remove all those non-essential phrases/clauses and you are left with a short (but understandable) sentence. Those "explanations within an explanation" (I call those "nested asides") gets in the way of good writing.