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The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family Paperback – January 2, 2008
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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From Publishers Weekly
Violent resistance in post-invasion Iraq kicked into high gear on April 4, 2004, when American troops in Sadr City faced a massive assault that claimed eight soldiers' lives and wounded more than 70 others. Raddatz, an Emmy-winning correspondent for ABC News, clearly aims to equal the storytelling in Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down in her account of the battle, and hits the mark with distinction. Extensive interviews with the commanding officers of the army's 1st Cavalry division and the soldiers pinned down in the streets provide a clear narrative of how U.S. troops, prepared for "a babysitting mission," found themselves in a bloodbath, as efforts to rescue the first soldiers fired upon met with even greater resistance from Mahdi militiamen who did not hesitate to use small children as frontline attackers. Heroic moments abound, like Casey Sheehan's volunteering to take another man's place on the rescue team, which resulted in his death. Raddatz touches upon the reaction of his mother, noted antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, but this is just one of many perspectives from families on the home front. The gripping account eschews politics and focuses squarely on the soldiers and their sacrifices. (Mar. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Raddatz, the chief White House correspondent for ABC News, has also spent considerable time not on the White House lawn or in the pressroom but covering, in person, the war in Iraq. To personalize war is usually the province of fiction and cinema, with nonfiction often left to be the more analytical side of war coverage. But here Raddatz infuses, with a professional elan belying the fact that this is her first book, her observations with the immediacy and even the discomfort that a novel would be expected to bring home to the reader (the discomfort being an unavoidable but perhaps necessary byproduct of any realistic depiction of war). Home is a particularly appropriate word here, because the home front is the flip side of her account. She's right there describing in horrific detail all the blood and guts, fear and anguish and bravery, of what the men and women she talked to and learned from endured on the front line. But she alternates these graphic scenes with poignant ones from back home, where mothers and wives await their loved-ones' deployment or dread the fateful knock on the door with bad news. To read her succinct, trenchant prose is to experience what we may not want to experience--but need to. There is considerable publisher push behind this book, so expect demand. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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For a variety of reasons, Lieutenant Aguero and his platoon were unprepared for the nightmarish ambush in which they were trapped on the very day their unit assumed responsibility for Sadr City. We often forget that in combat the enemy has a vote in the fight and is capable of planning. The Mahdi militia carefully planned the ambush by lulling the previous unit into a false sense of security which caused some Americans to put their guard. This Mahdi band of thugs also used women and children as screens. The author then graphically describes the chaos of combat at the individual level. Mistakes had been and were made at all levels as the rescue forces assembled. One clear theme was the bravery and brotherhood of these soldiers. Soldiers join the Army for a variety of reasons, some lofty and some rather mundane, but on this Black Sunday in Sadr City, they fought for the man on either side of them.
As a Vietnam veteran, “The Long Road Home” touched on me several levels. At several points, I had to put my iPad down and reflect on times when I had been in tough spots. Without going into detail, while reading the part about the “lost” platoon, I had a flashback to a terrible night in Vietnam when I was the only American for 15 miles around with about 100 Montagnards fighting off a force of VC and NVA bent on our destruction. The next morning when the smoke cleared and the sun came up, I was a young first lieutenant thankful to be alive, but that is another story.
Martha Raddatz also seamlessly switches from the fighting in Sadr City to the home front at Ft. Hood. I was moved to tears on more than one occasion by the death or serious wounding of a soldier and the uncertainty on the part of the families at Ft. Hood. It is the families who suffer the most in war. I only became fully aware a few years ago of what my wife went through while I was in Vietnam, but that is also another story. In combat, a soldier has a mission and a surrogate family (a band of brothers), but at home there is an empty seat at the table and the gnawing uncertainty about the safety of a loved one.
I challenge those of you reading this review to emulate the selflessness of these soldiers. Earn their sacrifice. God bless them and those who have died in the service of our country. We cherish their memories. God bless the men and women defending our country today. God bless the United States of America.
I'm so glad I chose to read it prior to watching the documentary. It is real. The fact that these brave men and women were prepared to go on a peace keeping mission and ended up being ambushed not even thirty minutes into their tour of the city is haunting. There is a line in the book that says after Viet Nam we vowed as a nation not to be in a war of insurgency. What we forgot is that the opposition has a vote. That statement reverberated through me and to this day it is something that brings me pause.
Our soldiers are heroes. The sometimes forgotten heroes are the families back home who support one another as well as those who lose a loved one.
To all who have served in any capacity my heartfelt thanks! I am proud to be an American!
To Martha Raddatz, I've always admired and respected your work. Thank you for bringing this story to us.
Their wives, families and support system back home were amazing as well, pulling together to get information and to dispense it to everyone involved quickly and correctly.
I highly recommend this to anyone interested in what our troops do!!