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Senator's Son: An Iraq War Novel Paperback – February 6, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Read Luke Larson now because you're going to be reading his stuff a lot in the future.  Senator's Son is just the start of a noteworthy career, or I'll eat my camo jacket.  When you finish Senator's Son, you will feel like you've lived several lifetimes as a Marine lieutenant in the Snake Pit and on Route Michigan--and you'll have an understanding of the Iraq war that can only come from standing inside USMC boots on Sunni insurgency ground." - Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War and The Legend of Bagger Vance


"Luke Larson has provided an outstanding--if thinly-veiled--personal account of the decisive event in the successul turnaround for U.S. forces in Iraq, the Sunni Awakening.  He also provides an unflinching and unromanticized account of the costs paid by the junior Marines and Soldiers who made that turnaround possible--often only by their sheer force of will." - Major Adam Ake,  Iraq War veteran,  former Rhodes Scholar


"Reading this book is like walking the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan in real time. When you are there, you will have been there." - Major General Ron Beckwith, USMC Ret
 

"Larson, a Marine combat veteran, vividly captures the challenges facing our men and women in uniform today. Although fiction, it is very evident the story is full of truths learned the hard way through real life tragic sacrifices. The lessons are surprising paradoxes: The more you protect yourself with firepower the less secure you become. If you kill an insurgent or create collateral damage the action could end up creating 50 more insurgents. After reading Senator's Son I could not shake the thought that sometimes not shooting is the best action." - Rick Smith, CEO and founder TASER International
 

"Larson's novel rings with the gritty street cred of a man whose scenes and prose have been grounded by the investment of his own blood and sweat. The first authentic work of fiction to emerge from the cauldron of the Iraq war." - David J. Danelo, author of Blood Stripes and The Border
 
 
"This novel hits you right in the face with the new realities of counterinsurgency. Everyone who reads it will have a new appreciation of the challenges our men and women face in Iraq and Afghanistan." - Alex W. "Pete" Hart former CEO MasterCard
 

"A terrific case study for deploying troops. Classic case of a novel being a truer account of war than non-fiction--no punches are pulled." - Owen West, former Marine Recon Officer and author of Sharkman Six and Four Days to Veracruz


"This is a brilliant portrayal linking the mental toughness required to survive brutal combat at the small unit level to the human costs of war time decisions at the national level." Lieutenant General John Caldwell, U.S. Army Ret.


"The most realistic account of what actually happens in a rifle company during a counterinsurgency battle." - Major Marcus Mainz, USMC, former Company Commander and Infantry Officer Course Instructor

--K.E., Inc. (added by author)

"Read Luke Larson now because you're going to be reading his stuff a lot in the future.  Senator's Son is just the start of a noteworthy career, or I'll eat my camo jacket.  When you finish Senator's Son, you will feel like you've lived several lifetimes as a Marine lieutenant in the Snake Pit and on Route Michigan--and you'll have an understanding of the Iraq war that can only come from standing inside USMC boots on Sunni insurgency ground." -- Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War and The Legend of Bagger Vance
 
 
"Luke Larson has provided an outstanding--if thinly-veiled--personal account of the decisive event in the successful turnaround for U.S. forces in Iraq, the Sunni Awakening.  He also provides an unflinching and unromanticized account of the costs paid by the junior Marines and Soldiers who made that turnaround possible--often only by their sheer force of will." -- Major Adam Ake,  Iraq War veteran,  former Rhodes Scholar


 

"Reading this book is like walking the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan in real time. When you are there, you will have been there."-- Major General Ron Beckwith, USMC Ret
 
 
"Larson, a Marine combat veteran, vividly captures the challenges facing our men and women in uniform today. Although fiction, it is very evident the story is full of truths learned the hard way through real life tragic sacrifices. The lessons are surprising paradoxes: The more you protect yourself with firepower the less secure you become. If you kill an insurgent or create collateral damage the action could end up creating 50 more insurgents. After reading Senator's Son I could not shake the thought that sometimes not shooting is the best action." -- Rick Smith, CEO and founder TASER International
 
 
"Larson's novel rings with the gritty street cred of a man whose scenes and prose have been grounded by the investment of his own blood and sweat. The first authentic work of fiction to emerge from the cauldron of the Iraq war." -- David J. Danelo, author of Blood Stripes and The Border
 

"This novel hits you right in the face with the new realities of counterinsurgency. Everyone who reads it will have a new appreciation of the challenges our men and women face in Iraq and Afghanistan." -- Alex W. "Pete" Hart former CEO MasterCard 

 


"A terrific case study for deploying troops. Classic case of a novel being a truer account of war than non-fiction--no punches are pulled." -- Owen West,  former Marine Recon Officer and author of Sharkman Six and Four Days to Veracruz



"This is a brilliant portrayal linking the mental toughness required to survive brutal combat at the small unit level to the human costs of war time decisions at the national level." Lieutenant General John Caldwell, U.S. Army Ret.

 

"The most realistic account of what actually happens in a rifle company during a counterinsurgency battle." - Major Marcus Mainz, USMC, former Company Commander and Infantry Officer Course Instructor


--K.E., Inc. (added by author) --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

About the Author

Luke S. Larson was born and raised in Washington State and grew up on the Olympic Peninsula. He attended University of Arizona on an NROTC scholarship and graduated with honors with a degree in Journalism. He served as a Marine infantry officer and saw action in two tours to Ar Ramadi, Iraq in 2005 and then again in 2007. He was awarded the Bronze Star with V for valor on his first tour. He studied non-lethal weapons, policies and procedures at Penn State's continuing education program and is currently pursuing an MBA at Thunderbird School of Global Management. He lives in Phoenix with his wife and daughter.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Key Edition Incorporated (February 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615353797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615353791
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,701,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Janar J. Wasito on February 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
Senator's Son is a novel that should be read by all Americans, but by several groups in particular: Policy makers (politicians, military officers, think tank members, professors); Junior officers and non commissioned officers deploying to Afghanistan or other COIN/ Small Wars; any one considering a military career. The novel can be compared to Fields of Fire by James Webb, now a senator, whose son served in the Ramadi depicted in the novel; David Kilcullen's The Accidental Guerilla, a non fiction book which describes the same themes in the book; and Bing West's three books on the Iraq War, especially the last one, The Strongest Tribe.

Like James Webb, Luke Larson is a former Marine Infantry Officer who served in a Marine Rifle Company that went through the experiences that are described in the novel. The novel is based on the experience of Larson's company in two tours in Ramadi from 2005 to 2007. In between the two tours, the unit which took over for Larson's unit was the same unit in which James Webb's son served. Larson's novel describes the transition from a highly kinetic situation where Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents were actively fighting the Americans with IEDs to a more benign environment where the clear-hold-build progression of counterinsurgency outlined in the Petraeus/ Mattis COIN manual has worked. The novel is told from the perspective of a US Senator in the future who must cast an important vote on a question of whether to use US military force. The US Senator of the novel is one of the Marine officers going through the experiences in Ramadi from 2005 to 2007. The novel makes the case that those who have served in combat are best prepared, morally, to make decisions about when to employ American military power in the future.
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Format: Paperback
Senator's Son is the first novel I have read that accurately depicts the most important aspects of the Iraq war. Other books also recount true stories and experiences or touch on the strategic impacts of junior personnel. However, there has been nothing published that so honestly reveals the struggles that young infantry leaders face on a daily basis in combat while drawing direct connections to the second and third order effects that many of us on the ground were not aware of until much later, if at all. Larson does more than describe the harsh conditions, humorous relationships, and violent fighting present during intense counter-guerilla warfare though. Perhaps even more important than this he delves into the often confusing and intricate nature of learning through experience what is required to conduct counterinsurgency operations. Illuminating hard learned lessons by telling stories that are incredibly true Larson outlines the progression of events at the company, tribe, and insurgent cell levels that are responsible for most of the Iraq conflict unfolding as it has. Senator's Son is entertaining, educational, and inspirational. I will ensure my junior leaders read this book before conducting counterinsurgency operations for the insight it provides on such a demanding task. I would also highly recommend that any person considering joining the fight in any capacity read and understand Larson's experiences. Finally, my children will read this book for the honest, historical depiction of events that shaped the world and a generation of Americans.
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As a Marine Infantry Officer who did two tours in the area of Iraq covered by the book, I feel that this is the best post-911 combat account I have seen. Even the memoirs of great generals like Julius Ceasar, Patton and Chesty Puller, as classic and universal as they are in describing front line combat, are not as good as Larson's book at describing the guerilla war we are currently facing. It should be read by every east-coast Ivy League elitist that is against the war or is for the war but doesn't know how to fight it, because if any book can make them understand what they are missing about the fight that our country is in, it is "Senator's Son".

William J. Vesterman, Capt, USMC IRR
USMC Infantry Officer's Course '03
USMC School of Infantry (Enlisted) '01
Harvard '91
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Larson has given us a book for the generations, and an excellent primer on the conditions under which COIN can work. His Marines "live" in the prose and became so real I felt I knew them----not many writers can achieve that. His characters live, and their story is compelling.

If you read but one book on our efforts in Iraq, this small work of fiction-based-on-reality should be considered. Larson's title is in a class alone; powerful, relevant, instructive, and in many ways redeeming.

Well done, sir! Highest recommendation!
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Luke Larson's Senator's Son portrays the transformation of a Marine company from fighting an uphill struggle with a questionable strategy against Ramadi's irhabin (the Iraqi term for insurgents), where marines are chewed up and spit out by improvised explosive devices during the low point of the Iraq war, into a successful counterinsurgency operation to protect the local population in cooperation with the leaders of the Sunni Awakening at the outset of the Iraq surge.

Larson vividly presents the troop maneuvers and split-second decision-making of four Marine lieutenants (Cash, Bama, John, and Rogue) and their men. For anybody interested in a boots-on-ground, outside-the-wire depiction of modern U.S. combat, the opening chapters of Senator's Son are grippingly informative.

However, Senator's Son falters as narrative. The book has a lot of action but little plot. The arc of the story--the emergence of the Marine company into a trailblazing counterinsurgency unit--is a little too preachy to keep the pages turning. We want America and its troops to succeed, but the fictional lieutenants aren't quite engaging or appealing enough to "root for." The snippets of their family life back home come across as artificial and hackneyed. Larson basically uses his characters as vessels to depict his faith in the righteousness of the counterinsurgency strategy over any rival doctrine.

The Iraq chapters are spliced by short political musings of a senator set in the future. The political chapters are a little jarring, out of place, and not terribly interesting. Overall, Senator's Son is more personalized and engaging than reading the Army's counterinsurgency manual or sitting through a West Point lecture series, but not by much.
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