When I first saw the mini-series on HBO I had not heard about this book. While I was in the book store a few weeks later I decided to have a look. I was really enjoying the show on HBO and, in my experience anyway, no movie maker ever does a book justice on the screen.
Standing by the rack I started reading and before I had given it much thought I was through 10 pages. This almost never happens for me. Needless to say I bought it. No disappointments in doing so it seems....
Evan Wright's tale of the 1st Marine Recon during the initial stages of the invasion of Iraq is a wonderful read. While moments of the story are as disturbing as hard combat in a civilian landscape would be, it is also an insightful bit of writing displaying the very human side of men hardly old enough to be adults in society who are trained to kill in a culture that prides itself on a tradition of killing, and being the best at it, for king and country.
In addition to this quality there are two additional elements to this story that are striking to me. First, as readability goes, Evan Wright is a master. For a guy who used to make a living writing Beaver Hunt for Hustler, he has a extraordinary voice that is clear and direct while maintaining the color of the world in which the story occurs. Also, having the bravery to ride with first recon on each mission and the presence of mind to make notes and record such a detailed account speaks to a true talent for the job. (Yes, I am really impressed by this... without exception)
So, to the ratings then:
- Readability - 5 of 5 - As I think I noted above here, I have no trouble reading this book. Even the parts where the shooting dies off and the marines are just men in funny clothes are a good read. It's a true cast of characters, painted by a master.
- Subject Matter - 5 of 5 - The book is the the story of the Marines of 1st Recon during the invasion of Iraq. In the entire book, any side explanation of background or person story never allows the course to be altered and things stay on track. The human element operating in the military during wartime is the only story present in this book.
- Editing - 5 of 5 - Given what I have said above, you can infer the 5 out of 5 here. No goofs anywhere that I could find and just right for all things story.
- Did I like the Story - 5 of 5 - So here's the thing that I think is the deciding factor for reading this book. If you want to know what it was like for these guys as told by the reporter who rode with them, then hell yes read this book. If military non-fiction is not your thing or you have no desire to know then you probably want something else. Either way, I loved it. I will probably let it settle and read it again in a year or so.
Do I think this book is worth read? You bet. Overall I give it 20 out of 20 and whole-heatedly say read it. It is well written, tells a story we should all know, and pays a wonderful tribute to the men it discusses and all from a first hand account of the story. Really well done.