Synopses & Reviews
The riveting, action-packed true story of the first soldier to challenge the war in Iraq.
As a 1st Lieutenant and Infantry Platoon Leader for the U.S. Army, charged with leading 38 young men in Iraq, Paul Rieckhoff was proud to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who served during Vietnam and WWII respectively. He and his soldiers spent almost a year in one of the most dangerous and volatile areas of Baghdad. And what they encountered there was chaos: not nearly enough troops, no humanitarian aid, no body armor, no radios, and no real plan for what to do after Baghdad fell.
Rieckhoff was shocked to see that sometimes the greatest challenges his platoon faced did not come from enemy combatants. He saw fi rsthand the disastrous results of disbanding the Iraqi army, sending thousands of armed, angry, and unemployed men out into the streets. And he saw what happened when we tried to conduct a war on the cheap, by bestowing government contracts to the lowest bidder and sending our military into battle inadequately protected and armed. What followed, over the next ten months, set him on a course that would forever change his life.
When he fi nally came home from his tour of duty, Rieckhoff vowed to tell Americans the truth about what was going on in Iraq. He demanded accountability from elected officials and was the first Iraq veteran to do so publicly. He created Operation Truth, the first and largest veterans' group specifically for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through this organization, he has become a leading spokesman for troops, veterans, and their families, and a critical voice in the ongoing debate surrounding this conflict.
Whatis really happening in Iraq? Should we be there? Should we stay? Rieckhoff is in a unique position to answer these crucial questions. Not only was he on the ground in the heat of battle but he is also on the front lines politically at home. He provides a grunt's-eye view of the harrowing, bloody battles on the streets of Baghdad and a patriot's vision of where America has gone wrong and how it can reset its path.
For soldier Rieckhoff, it quickly became clear that the American mission in Iraq had vague strategy, flawed tactics, and underequipped soldiers. He made it back alive, determined to tell the truth about what was happening and demanded accountability from elected officials.
As a First Lieutenant and Infantry Platoon Leader for the U.S. Army National Guard, Paul Rieckhoff was charged with leading thirty-eight men in Iraq. He spent almost a year in one of the bloodiest and most volatile areas of Baghdad. And when he finally came home, he vowed to tell Americans the harrowing truth. He does just that, uncensored and unrehearsed, "and with wit and passion" (Arianna Huffington), in Chasing Ghosts
-the first criticism of the Iraq war written by a soldier who fought in it.
About the Author
Paul Rieckhoff is the executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) (formerly Operation Truth), the first and largest organization for veterans of the War on Terror. During his time in the Adamiyah section of central Baghdad, he led his light infantry platoon on hundreds of combat patrols with the 3rd Infantry and 1st Armored Divisions. He continues to serve his country as an Infantry Officer in the New York Army National Guard.
Rieckhoff is a nationally recognized authority on the war in Iraq and issues affecting our troops, military families, and veterans at home. He is a frequent TV and radio commentator and has appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, FOX’s Hannity and Colmes, NBC Nightly News, 60 Minutes II, CNN’s Paula Zahn Now, ABC’s World News Tonight, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Air America’s Al Franken Show, and NPR’s All Things Considered, among many other programs. He and IAVA have also been featured across the country in numerous major national newspapers and magazines. He was named one of “America’s Best and Brightest of 2004” by Esquire. On May 1, 2004, in a spot normally reserved for governors and senators, Rieckhoff delivered the Democratic response to President Bush’s national weekly radio address.
Prior to his deployment to Iraq, Rieckhoff worked as a high school football coach and an investment banking analyst on Wall Street, and later spent several weeks contributing to the rescue effort at Ground Zero after 9/11. He is a graduate of Amherst College, where he studied political science. He lives in New York City’s East Village.