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Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad Hardcover – March 22, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

Even a very short, victorious shooting war against a disorganized, dispirited, vastly outnumbered and underequipped enemy is hell. That is the central message that Los Angeles Times correspondent Zucchino brings home startlingly well in this riveting account of the American military's lightning capture of Baghdad in April 2003. Zucchino (The Myth of the Welfare Queen) is an experienced, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, and he shows off his reportorial skills in this reconstruction of the "lightning armored strike" in Iraq that the military refers to as a "thunder run." The narrative focuses on the men who commanded and battled in the tank battles as the Americans fought their way to Iraq's capital city. It is often not a pretty picture, nor one for the faint of heart, because Zucchino unhesitatingly and graphically describes the violent and grisly fates that befell hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqi Republican Guard troops and fedayeen militiamen, their Syrian allies (at the border) and the unfortunate civilians who were killed or wounded by the deadly high-tech American armored vehicles and their well-trained crews. He also does not shy away from intimately describing the deaths and injuries of American troops. The Americans who fought their way into Baghdad engaged in, according to Zucchino's account, a vicious, if short-lived, war. While the Americans overwhelmed the Iraqis on the road to Baghdad, U.S. troops faced periodic stiff resistance; rocket-propelled grenades caused death and destruction among the crews in the Bradley fighting vehicles. Zucchino tells his story primarily from the American troops' point of view, but does include a section describing the experiences of a Baath Party militia leader and some Republican Guard officers in this high-quality example of in-depth and evocative war reporting. First serial to Men's Journal.
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From Booklist

It is a popular misconception that the city of Baghdad fell painlessly, like a ripe plum, into the hands of U.S. forces. True, the feared scenario of a protracted, Stalingrad-like siege did not emerge. However, as this intense and thrilling account makes clear, the capture of the city was no walkover. Zucchino is a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times with extensive experience in war coverage. His account is a fast-paced, gritty, and frequently surprising story of men and women in combat, and he expertly interweaves the drama of individual human experiences with the broader strategic and tactical objectives. There are gut-wrenching, deeply disturbing accounts of slaughter, and Zucchino captures the sheer savagery of the early stages of the battle as Iraqi regular and irregular troops sought to parry the initial U.S. armored thrust into the city. Of course, inspiring examples of individual heroism are cited, but there is also a consistent, almost chilling, aura of cool professionalism--these men are superbly trained warriors, after all. Despite the relative inexperience of many of them, they display expertise in the art of high-tech killing. Zucchino's assertion that the conquest of Baghdad could revolutionize concepts of urban warfare is likely to be hotly debated, but this is an outstanding chronicle of an underreported battle of the war, and the buzz is likely to be loud. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1St Edition edition (March 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139115
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Alan V. Dunkin on April 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
One of the most surprising moves by the United States military in Operation Iraqi Freedom was the quick inception and execution of the two "thunder runs" into Baghdad as they were quickly dubbed (a Vietnam-era term) on April 5 and 7, 2003. The surprise, as author David Zucchino informs in his new book Thunder Run, was that the idea was implemented nearly spur of the moment, and that the soldiers on both sides of the conflict had no idea it was coming.
The military had planned to besiege Baghdad, surrounding the city with the 3rd Infantry Division (Mech.) while cordoning off sections of the city piece by piece via air assaults from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Everyone thought and planned the siege would be a lengthy and potentially very bloody process, including the Iraqis - they had correctly discerned the American strategy and had prepared well for it.
Once the coalition reached Baghdad, commanders decided that a military demonstration into, instead of in front of, the city was in order. The highways into the city were practically unobstructed; the route chosen was a pure concrete and asphalt highway that arced from the southern to western ends of the city, ending with Saddam Airport, which was already in 3rd Infantry Division hands. The intention of the first run was to be the first of many, a risky armored thrust into enemy-held urban territory where tanks were supposedly wholly vulnerable. The second would quickly follow-up the apparent success of the first, two days later - and this time the Americans had come to stay.
Mr. Zucchino writes the physical and emotional peaks and troughs of combat in a powerful yet readable way.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, this was a great book. I was a tank gunner with Charlie Company, 1-64 AR with the 2nd Brigade/3ID. What I enjoyed most about this book was the very detailed accounts of what other units in the brigade were going through. At the time, I (and everyone else, I'm sure) was very wrapped up in our own individual actions so, to read about the rest of the brigade, was very interesting. Additionally, while I cannot vouch for anything having to do with other units, the descriptions in the book of everything that happened with C/1-64 were totally accurate. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the subject and I would further recommend the book Heavy Metal: A Tank Company's Battle To Baghdad written by my CO (CPT Jason Conroy) and our embedded reporter (Ron Martz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution). This book won't be out until March 2005 but I for one am dying to read it.
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Format: Paperback
David Zucchino has written a timeless account of the armored strikes that effectively captured Baghdad. Called "thunder runs," the idea was to thrust an armoured column into Baghdad with such force and violence that tyhe enemy could not resist and would know that the Americans could go where they want, when they wanted.

The first Thunder Run was through the suburbs of Baghdad to the main airport. Zucchino does a superlative job of describing the mishaps, mistakes, lost opportunities and fear attendant to any military operation. One can only marvel at the courage and resourcefulness of the men assigned this task.

The second Thunder Run was to be to the center of Baghdad just to broadcast to the Iraqis that, indeed, American forces could drive right into the heart of the government center, sweeping aside any opposition.

The commander of the operation felt it could go further: that the armored column could not only penetrate to the heart of Baghdad - but stay there as well. This would, it was argued, end the war.

Zucchino distinguishes himself as one of the finest narrators of war in this generation. His descriptions of the frantic Iraqi counter-attacks, the confusion, the almost random nature of death in combat run right to the heart.

Happily, Zuchhino leave politics at the doorstep. He describes combat, not the polemics and politics of this particular war. I am certain that I will be re-reading Thunder Run: the detail is just too vast to grasp in a single reading.

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Format: Hardcover
The engagements described in this book will be studied from now on in military colleges around the world. Over the years, many experts in military strategy have condenmed US military strategy as being too direct and lacking in creativity. As this book shows, somebody was listening to this criticism: the taking of Baghdad was brilliant.
Prior to these battle, US doctrine was that tanks could not be effective in an urban environment: there was no room to maneuver and tanks were too imprecise a weapon to use amongst hordes of civilians. Someone (and the book doesn't say whose idea the Thunder Runs were) decided to change that doctrine. Rather than the direct approach, laying seige to the city, the planners decided to bypass the defenders and simply thrust into the heart of the city. Once everyone could see US troops in the middle of the city, the psychological blow had been struck and the US was considered victorious without actually engaging in any set battles. Thousands of Iraqi civilians and soldiers were spared by this unprecidented move.
In the history of warfare, I doubt there are any other examples of so few (only 1,000 troops were involved in the Thunder Runs) taking a so large a city defended by so many, so quickly, with so little loss of life. Some Americans were killed and Iraqi soldiers were killed by the hundreds, but this result pales in comparison to what might have happend had the city been taken block by block, the "direct" way.
Zucchino deserves great praise for bringing the story to light, but even more praise for telling the tale so selflessly. His personality and opinions simply never show up in the narrative. There are no politics in the book at all, other than a few comments from the soldiers themselves.
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