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Nightcap at Dawn: American Soldiers' Counterinsurgency in Iraq 1st Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1616086176
ISBN-10: 1616086173
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Editorial Reviews


“A truly extraordinary book . . . [written] in the most vivid firsthand manner. These recollections, pooled experiences, and shared sacrifices constitute the most authentic account yet produced of the Iraq battle.” (Christopher Hitchens)

“Sgt. J.B. Walker, the “author” of this absorbing, dramatically vivid chronicle, is a pen-named collective effort by American soldiers fighting in Iraq. Originally self-published, the narrative is comprised of candid e-mails assembled once the group returned to American soil and encompasses much more than its original intent to detail “the simple charms of soldiering.” With exacting scrutiny, many of the unnamed authors share the stark realities and myriad complications of counterinsurgency efforts. Each of the six sections delves deeply into the multilayered aspects of military duty: the culture shock from intercepting violence (while expressing good intentions) to the citizens of a predominantly foreign society, soldiering with a concussion, profiling jihadist militants, the inexplicability of suicide bombing and the silent suffering of innocent Iraqi women and children. Most affective are the personal accounts, ranging from the poignant to the humorous. Individual narration of violent conflicts and meticulously rendered scenes of armed tactical maneuvering are tempered by the soldiers’ first-person depiction of fearless Iraqi civilians demonstrating resistance to cutthroat guerrilla movements. Expertly archived and originally written for military audiences, this confluence of warfare experiences is sure to garner widespread attention, with the publishing proceeds directed to charities serving military families, “the unacknowledged soldiers of any war." A bracing cooperative effort taking readers as close to war as humanly possible.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred))

“A rare accomplishment: Nightcap at Dawn tells the story of the counterinsurgency in Iraq from the perspective of troops on the ground, while simultaneously analyzing the multitude of challenges and dilemmas brought by an insurgency.  The marriage of hot narrative and cold analysis brilliantly succeeds in bringing the experience alive while cutting through the fog of war like a laser.” (Stathis N. Kalyvas, Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science and Director of the Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence at Yale University)

About the Author

J. B. Walker is the collective pen name of a dedicated group of former U.S. Army soldiers. Together they wrote Nightcap at Dawn: American Soldiers’ Counterinsurgency in Iraq. All the authors’ proceeds of publication will go to charities that serve military families.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1 edition (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616086173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616086176
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Nightcap at Dawn" is a scary book. Scary in the way that "Heart of Darkness" is scary. Scary in the way "Paco's Story" is. Scary because it could have been you amidst the narrative. Except this amazing piece of creative non-fiction is about Iraquis, not Americans. And its about how a commitment to Field Manual 3-24 and its ideas and ideals about counterinsurgency switches the field of battle from killing the enemy to saving the civilians. It is about the role that hearts and minds played on the ground amidst intense kinetic warfare against snipers, bombers, and those who choose not to distinguish between civilians and combatants. This is a sobering account by people who read the Nobel Prize winning Egyptian novelist in order to try and grasp ineffable qualities of the Middle Eastern culture. The tradition of writing while on or near the battlefield has been with us since the Greeks. Some of the most famous fiction, poetry, journalism, and even scholarship has been produced in the shadow of war. "Nightcap at Dawn" contains the best of the best but let the reader beware...much truth resides within its pages.
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Format: Paperback
Nightcap at Dawn in Iraq is a phenomenal book. It is what every voting American and especially every member of Congress should read. It takes discourse about the war on the ground out of policy analysts hands and puts the reader in the middle of the action. It tells the story of the everyday for soldiers: the story that we so rarely hear back at home. But it's the story that we should hear, the story that we are all obligated to listen to as we send our neighbors over to fight for 'freedom' or 'democracy'.

Make no mistake, the book is terrifying in its simplicity. It reads like a letter home from those so far from it. And it opened my eyes to the reality of those who so rarely can talk about it.

This is not a book just for academics in their ivory towers, although many that study counterinsurgency strategy will no doubt find it riveting.

In short: Buy it. Read it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
One of the most amazing military books I've ever read. But it's not like other war books I know about. It talks of a war, not for gaining land or capitals, but where gains are measured by winning the trust of a young girl, where a printer is a weapon used against insurgents. But it's a hard book to pigeon hole as to what it's about. Yea, it's about the Iraq War and there are patrol stories, and weapon discussions, some history, some army doctrine debates, insurgent in-politics, even everyday Iraqi people profiles. I have to say when I started reading I felt like Dorothy inside the Kansas tornado. Nothing made sense, facts and players whirled around and it just didn't make sense. We're the good guys who won the war and freed an oppressed people from a brutal tyrant. Why is everyone shooting at us? The pages turn, there's a few missions and some background, there's a bit of sense to be made. But a section comes up about a patrol- A House in the Orchard- that slams it all together. The patrol, following some leads and hints, comes to this house surrounded by a pear orchard. A knock at the door with some small talk, shows it to be inhabited only by kids and several young women guarded over by a grim, protective matriarch. Everything looks OK but the patrol just 'senses' something is dark and sinister. Should the patrol leader just wish them a nice day and move on or should he expend his and his men's time and empathy to the matriarch. Maybe, if there is a problem here, her problem is their problem. Who knows, for now, they can't even can't passed the front door. It's a well written, and riveting tale that shows the dire position that innocent Iraqis are stuck in. As well as the extraordinary lengths that a US serviceman goes to, to be successful in Iraq.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the kind of book that is hard to put down; the author truly immerses you in the life of an Army grunt deployed to Iraq having to fight an uphill battle in a way not envisioned.

If you are hoping to understand how complicated COIN is, this is the sort of book that will lay out the harsh realities of following ROEs too closely and how a citizen-centric focus is sometimes best for winning over the locals and undermining the support of insurgent groups.

Finally, many of you will love how the author employs imagery and symbolism, referring to insurgents as "rattlesnakes" among many other terms to visualize the battlespace "Walker" and his men encountered on the streets of Iraq.
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