- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Richard Vigilante Books; 1st edition (February 28, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0980076323
- ISBN-13: 978-0980076325
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 128 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Moment of Truth in Iraq: How a New 'Greatest Generation' of American Soldiers is Turning Defeat and Disaster into Victory and Hope 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
I HAVE NEVER BEEN PROUDER TO PUBLISH A BOOK
Michael Yon changed my mind about the war in Iraq, by making me understand it for the first time.
From the very beginning I was against the war. I thought it would be a disaster, another Vietnam. And until I had the privilege of working on this book with Michael I was always for immediate pull-out: why should one more American die for a doomed effort?
Michael--who is as close to totally non-political as anyone I know--showed me two things. First, because I judged by Vietnam, the war of my youth, I had radically underestimated what American soldiers could do. I knew they could blow away any regular opponent on any battlefield. But wage a counterinsurgency against an enemy with broad support in the population? Win the "hearts and minds," to use the Vietnam era phrase that now can be used only ironically? That was asking too much, I thought.
I was 100 percent wrong. Today's American soldiers excel at counterinsurgency, because they excel at the most important thing: winning over the people by inspiring them with their own courage and compassion, discipline and determination. Reading this book is like watching the movie Apocalypse Now, but in an alternate universe in which the opposite always happens. Every time our soldiers get into an incredibly tense situation with some Iraqis who might be friends or might be enemies or murderers, some situation in which what's needed is amazing calm and courage to keep things from blowing up and ending in a blood bath, our guys pull it off!
Just wait until you read the Chapter "High Noon" (my favorite), the story of the American soldiers who have to arrest a corrupt but politically popular Iraqi police chief we had put in office in the first place because he had been a real hero in fighting the terrorists. He had to be removed by Americans to show the Iraqis we really did believe in the rule of law. The whole thing could have blown up into a one-town civil war with hundreds dead on both sides. Won't tell you how it ends, but you will be amazed and very proud.
The other thing Michael helped me understand is the difference between terrorists we just have to kill (often foreigners, or local criminals) and local insurgents we should have been working with all along. For almost five years I could not tell from watching the news--and certainly not from listening to the Administration--who the enemy was, what they wanted or why they were fighting. Not surprisingly it turns out that understanding the various people we were fighting--some of whom have since become great allies--was the key to winning the war, which we are now clearly doing.
I am convinced that everything I once thought about the war was wrong. The truth is we are doing a great thing in Iraq, most of the Iraqi people really do want to be a united democratic nation and already consider America their greatest friend and ally. It would be a crime to turn tail now and abandon them now.
I owe all that to Michael's book, which is why I believe publishing Moment of Truth in Iraq may be the best thing I have ever done for my country.
From the Inside Flap
Never underestimate the American soldier. That's the moral of former Green Beret Michael Yon's brilliant battle-by-battle, block-by-block tale of how America's new `greatest generation' of soldiers is turning defeat and disaster into victory and hope in Iraq.
The American soldier is the reason General David Petraeus's brilliant strategy of moving our soldiers off isolated bases and out among the Iraqi people is working. Working to find and kill terrorists, reclaim neighborhoods, and help lead Iraq to democracy.
Iraqis respect strength. They know that American soldiers are "great-hearted warriors" who rejoice in killing the Al Qaeda terror gangs that took over whole cities and "raped too many women and boys, cut off too many heads, brought drugs into too many neighborhoods."
But Iraqis also discovered that these great warriors are even happier helping rebuild a clinic or a school or a neighborhood. They learned the American soldier is not only the most dangerous man in the world, but the best man too.
Moment of Truth in Iraq is packed with Yon's trademark thrilling and often heart-rending tales from the battlefield:
* The American commander fed up with phony Al Qaeda `documentaries' that showed terrorists shooting at bombed out American vehicles as if they had beaten us in open battle. The commander and his men staged the "bombing" of a broken down truck, then when the terrorists came to put on their act, Navy SEAL snipers killed every one.
* Follow the exploits of the great "Deuce Four" battalion that became the center of a "warrior cult" dreaded by terrorists and revered by Iraqis.
*Think Iraqi soldiers can't fight? Read about the elite Iraqi SWAT team taking down a terror cell for the murder of four American soldiers and a brave Iraqi guide.
*Think Americans are occupiers, not liberators, of Iraq? Tell that to the wounded Iraqi interpreter, who, convinced he was about to die, begged his U.S. commander to have his heart cut out and buried in America.
* Learn why so many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers.
Brutalized by Saddam for decades, Iraqis hungered for strength entwined with justice and tempered by mercy. The American soldier delivered.
We are winning the war in Iraq, not primarily with our overwhelming technology, not with shock and awe destruction, but with the even more powerful force of American values--with the courage and leadership, strength and compassion of soldiers who know both how to kill the bad guy and comfort the child.
Here is the true, untold story of the American soldier and the courage and values that are bringing victory for America--and Iraq.
Top customer reviews
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Michael Yon refreshingly avoids all this. His book is most definitely *not* a rehashing of the rationale of the conflict or its origins; he appears acutely aware that such an exercise would slot his work into a warring camp only marginally related to the actual conflict and for this he shows admirable contempt. He pays a bit more attention to the war's consequences but only in the context of his main focus: how ordinary American soldiers fought -- and, of course, continue to fight -- the war. Given the passionate feelings the war still stir among his countrymen, Yon's restraint is admirable and appears completely natural; he simply has no axe to grind beyond advocating what the soldiers want: to do their job well and come home.
Without cheerleading, the author simply carries out a wartime correspondent's duties and reports on what he sees. Even this task has its perils: Yon is "embedded" with various deployments and unflinchingly describes plenty of fighting, including heroic deeds and horrific mistakes. He reports honestly, but gratefully his lack of bias doesn't extend to shrinking from value judgments: he makes a convincing case that to the extent the American army has succeeded in its mission in Iraq is directly attributable to what individual soldiers believe they represent. The occupying American force -- far from the cantankerous bickering back home -- ultimately trusts that its country's *values* of freedom and self-determination will win the day. On the other end of the value scale, Yon saves plenty of venom for Al-Qaeda's ruthlessness and clearly demonstrates how their tactics drove wavering Iraqis (especially Sunnis) into American arms -- figuratively and literally.
I could only find one serious demerit in Yon's work: while I have great respect for him as a journalist, he's ultimately no *author*, e.g., his writing doesn't hold up well over the course of an entire book. He files a very good story but his writing, alas, fits a modern, blog-feeding style: informative and fact-filled, but lacking an overarching narrative and often poorly constructed. Even his grammar made me wince a few times. While I read dozens of blogs and other online material (including book reviews!), I simply expect more in a published volume on a serious subject. In this respect I was fairly disappointed.
But I stand by the four stars for the sheer novelty of this material and especially the author's knowledge and sympathies. Like the army with whom he rides, Yon set a goal for himself and carried out his work, without apparent concern for other shrill voices barraging his subject. For this perspective alone his work deserves a wide audience despite his stylistic shortcomings. If more writers on this contentious conflict had shown the same professionalism, Americans might finally approach the Iraq war with less political passion -- but with far more knowledge and perspective.
Horrible mistakes were made early in the occupation. Those mistakes were made by diplomats, not the military. Diplomats answered to the Whitehouse, and cleared all major decisions with the Whitehouse. Perhaps the administration was trying to learn a lesson from the last real war, Vietnam, and chose to let their people on the ground make the final decisions. Perhaps they knew they were clueless and didn't wish to expose themselves. Books now on the shelves and books yet to be written will tell both sides of that tale. One thing is certain: Disbanding the Army AND the Bureaucracy because both were dominated by minority Baathists, to appease the majority Shiia may have looked good on paper but as we now know, it was both dumb and expensive in blood and treasure and gravitas.
Gen Petraeus wrote a book, actually THE book, on counterinsurgency. His methods in the early days of the occupation are detailed here by Yon. They worked. When Petraeus' orders changed; his wisdom and his results were ignored. Now he's in charge and the Iraqi have real hope for the first time in 5 years. So do we.
Many things have gone wrong. Many more things will. Still, there is hope. Real hope. If you want to understand that hope, or share it, you must read this book.