Synopses & Reviews
and#8220;In Iraq we put our lives in each otherand#8217;s hands (and paws) day after day. We took care of each other no matter what. Rex and I have a bond that will last for the rest of our born days. If ever there was a marine who lived up to andlt;Iandgt;Semper Fidelis, andlt;/Iandgt;the motto of the Marine Corps, itand#8217;s Rex.and#8221; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Deployed to Iraqand#8217;s infamous Triangle of Death in 2004, Sergeant Mike Dowling and his military working dog Rex were part of the first Marine Corps military K9 teams sent to the front lines of combat since Vietnam. It was Rexand#8217;s job to sniff out weapons caches, suicide bombers, and IEDs, the devastating explosives that wreaked havoc on troops and civilians alike. It was Mikeand#8217;s job to lead Rex into the heart of danger time and time again, always trusting Rex to bring them both back alive. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Dowling had turned twenty-five and Rex three just after they arrived in Iraq. Neither of them had any idea what to expect, and no training could fully prepare them for this job. An animal lover since childhood, Dowling had fostered and trained dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and he was determined to serve in the militaryand#8217;s K9 unit after joining the Marines. On their first patrols in Iraq, Rex suffered a seemingly incurable fear of explosions and gunfire, but with Mike at the other end of his leash, Rex gained the courage to perform his duty. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Filled with harrowing tales of knife-edge bomb-detection work, including an extraordinary baptism by fire, andlt;Iandgt;Sergeant Rex andlt;/Iandgt;is a heart-pounding account of how an unbreakable human-canine bond helped Mike and Rex to stay focused on their mission and save countless lives. Dowling takes us into the searing 130-degree heat, the choking dust, and the ever-present threat of violent attack that seemed to permeate Iraqand#8217;s streets. We experience Dowlingand#8217;s visceral fear of walking down an IED-laden alley where dismemberment or death can come with any footstep, only his trusted partner, Rex, by his side. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Loyalty is one of the hallmarks of any good Marine, and nowhere is that quality more evident than in this astonishing account of Mike Dowling and Rexand#8217;s wartime experiences. A moving story of how a man and a dog developed complete trust in each other in the face of terrible adversity, andlt;Iandgt;Sergeant Rex andlt;/Iandgt;is an unforgettable tale of sacrifice, courage, and love.
"Former Marine Dowling and coauthor Lewis recount the adventures and misadventures of Dowling and his German shepherd partner, Rex, as they train for and deploy to Iraq as one of the first military K9 teams to see combat since Vietnam in this touching memoir. Corporal Dowling and Sergeant Rex military working dogs outrank their handlers by one rank arrived in Mahmoudiyah, in the dreaded 'Triangle of Death' south of Baghdad, in March 2004 tasked 'to outwit and defeat' the ubiquitous IEDs, 'the single biggest threat facing U.S. forces.' Assigned to the 'Warlords' of the Second Battalion, Second Marines, they spent the next seven months searching roadsides and buildings for explosives. It was dangerous and often terrifying work. The Marines quickly came to adore Rex not only because he saved lives sniffing out IED-making materials but also because he proved to be 'the greatest stress reliever of all.' Dowling and Rex are inseparable and fiercely protective of each other, and the authors enhance our understanding of the special bond between man and man's best friend by weaving the backstory of their partnership throughout the narrative. Despite some tense moments and close calls, this deeply affecting tale of courage and devotion in the cauldron of war has a happy ending." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
and#8220;This is a truly heartwarming and moving story.and#8221; and#8212;andlt;iandgt;Hollywood Reporter andlt;BRandgt; andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt; and#8220;Packed with colorful characters and dramatic incidents, andlt;iandgt;Sergeant Rexandlt;/iandgt; is a moving story of true grit cast seamlessly amidst tough realism, rich, insightful detail and mutual respect.and#8221;andlt;iandgt; and#8212;Seattle Kennel Club andlt;BRandgt; andlt;/iandgt;
"A first-rate buddy story from the front lines of the Iraq war."
"The best kind of nonfiction -- an impossible-to-put-down true life story."andlt;BRandgt; andlt;iandgt;--San Francisco Chronicleandlt;BRandgt; andlt;/iandgt;
and#8220;Briskly written. . . a moving portrait of a relationship between battle buddies that transcends gender and species.and#8221; andlt;BRandgt; -- andlt;iandgt;Washington Postandlt;/iandgt;
and#8220;A first-rate buddy story from the front lines of the Iraq war.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; --andlt;iandgt;Shelf Awarenessandlt;/iandgt;
Praise forand#160;Top Dog
"An eye-opening account of the job these intelligent dogs and their courageous handlers do...[a] riveting title that is filled with excitement and heartbreak." --and#160;Library Journaland#160;(starred review)
"Whether someone likes to read "war" books or not, this story is one that transcends "war." I have read nothing that so adroitly weaves together the relationship between our young warriors and man's best friend, from Iraq to Afghanistan and then coming home in body, mind and spirit. If I could write half so well and capture the essence of things largely left unspoken, I would write letters to God!"and#160;
and#8212;Marine General James Mattis (Ret.)
"...an absolutely fascinating and an accurate portrayal of the importance of military working dogs and their handlers on today's complex battlefield. The book is extremely well written and skillfully paints the picture of the passionate relationship between military working dog and its handler. It has my highest recommendations." -- Army Lieutenant General Rick Lynch (Ret.)
"I LOVED Top Dog. With a single glance into Lucca's soulful knowing eyes, you will fall in love. Heartwarming and heart-rending until its joyous conclusion, Maria Goodavage brilliantly renders the growing love and loyalty between Lucca and her handlers -- a bond of such incredible strength it transcends war, distance, and time. Meet the amazing Lucca, and you will wish she was yours!"
and#8212;Robert Crais, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Suspect
and#8220;Maria Goodavage's Top Dog is a true war story with a heart as heroic and bold as any account ever told, only here the tale centers on a four-legged warrior, specifically one named Lucca, a courageous and stalwart war dog of incomparable bravery. This is no dry accounting of Lucca's service, but a gritty, boots-on-the-ground portrayal of what it means to share the battlefield with such a remarkable animal. Written with authority, warmth, and genuine honor, here is a story that not only needs to be told, but should be read by all. It's a new classic, one that will inspire everyone.and#8221;
and#8212;James Rollins, New York Times bestseller of The Kill Switchand#160;
"A masterfully told epic of one of the canine heroes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I doubt many readers will finish the book with a dry eye--this veteran of 28 months in Iraq, for one, could not. Semper Fi, Lucca."and#160;and#8212;Col. (Ret.) Peter Mansoor, author ofand#160;Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War
"Written like an adventure, with heart-pounding combat sequences, high tension, and suspense as well as moments of deep emotion and bonding, "Top Dog" is a must read for anyone who appreciates heroes of both the two-legged and four-legged kind." - Stanley Coren, author ofand#160;The Intelligence of Dogs, How to Speak Dog,and#160;and others
Praise for Soldier Dogs
and#8220;A moving portrait of the loyal, courageous, furry warriors who truly are an enlisted Manand#8217;s Best Friend.and#8221;
and#8220;A fascinating window into a different kind of military life.and#8221;
and#8220;A well-deserved salute to the militaryand#8217;s and#8216;paws-on-the-ground heroes.and#8217; and#8221;and#160;
and#8220;Aand#160;mustand#160;read and#8212; I say againand#160;mustand#160;read and#8212; book if you have ever served anywhere theyand#8217;ve had paws on the ground.and#8221;and#160;
and#8220;[Soldier Dogs] is written in an easy and entertaining style and will acquaint you with dozens of canine heroes ranging from Stubby, who fought in WWI, to Cairo, who was a member of the raiding party that took down Osama Bin Laden. It is a great read for anyone who appreciates dogs and heroes.and#8221;
and#8212;Stanley Coren, author of How Dogs Think
and#8220;Inspiring personal stories of the many canine allies (and their handlers) who have dramatically enhanced military command units . . . [Soldier Dogs] examines how this indelible human-canine bond often transcends the atrocities of wartime violence.and#8221; and#8212;Kirkus Reviews
and#8220;If the idea of dogs at war conjures up thoughts of harsh methods and unrelenting discipline, think again. Maria Goodavageand#8217;s revealing and engaging book exposes the unexpected trust and affection that flows both ways between dog and handler. You may already care about dogs: This book will heighten your respect for them.and#8221;
and#8212;John Bradshaw, author of Dog Sense
“Tom Clavins Reckless
reads like a wonderful and inspiring combination of Laura Hillenbrands Seabiscuit
. The star of this book might be a Mongolian mare, but she was an American war hero, and her amazing story deserves to be told, which Clavin so ably does. This would make a hell of a movie.”—Nelson DeMille, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Quest
“War can often make unlikely heroes, and in this book Tom Clavin introduces us to the unlikeliest hero of all. Reckless is an inspiring tale of courage and endurance by a brave horse who unflinchingly risked death to help the men she loved, winning for herself a role in Marine Corps history."—Larry Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Biggest Brother and co-author of A Higher Call
“Who ever thought such a story could exist? A heroic horse fighting with the Marines in the Korean War? But it emphatically does. It is dramatic and poignant—both the human and the equine parts—and comes completely alive in Tom Clavin's narrative.”—S.C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon
“Within the relentless account of the bravery of many men, the featured character is a Mongolian racehorse, recruited to carry the heavy ammunition for a recoilless rifle platoon…. Reckless certainly possessed fortitude; what she did one day in 1953 was remarkable. Under heavy enemy fire, she made countless trips up steep terrain carrying heavy shells to supply her platoon. On the way back, she often carried the wounded to safety. It was estimated that she carried more than four tons of ammunition in trips covering more than 30 miles, mostly alone, without guidance or prompting. The fame of the stalwart horse, who gave added resonance to the idea of Semper Fi, grew both within the Corps and among the folks at home…. a blood-soaked war story about a courageous horse.”—Kirkus
Memoir about a U.S. Marine and his German Shepherd Rex, a bomb sniffing dog, who serve together on the war-torn streets of Iraq’s most dangerous city.
The Hurt Locker meets Marley & Me in this thrilling and inspiring true story of a U.S. Marine and his German Shepherd Rex, a bomb-sniffing dog on the war-torn streets of Iraq’s most dangerous city.
“I am your Guardian: you are my Protector.” This is the motto of the United States Marine Corps K9 unit. It describes a sacred bond between two soldiers—one man; the other man’s best friend. In Sergeant Rex, decorated Iraq War veteran Mike Dowling recounts the incredible story of this unique relationship.
Deployed into the cauldron of Iraq in 2004, Sergeant Mike Dowling and Rex were part of the first military working dog (K9) team sent to the frontlines since Vietnam. It was Rex’s job to sniff out booby traps, suicide bombers, and IEDs, the devastating explosives that wreaked havoc on soldiers and civilians alike. It was Mike’s job to lead Rex into the heart of danger time and time again, always trusting Rex to bring them both back alive. At first Rex suffered a seemingly incurable fear of explosions and gunfire, but with Mike at the other end of his leash, Rex gained the courage he needed to get the job done. Filled with harrowing tales of knife-edge bomb-detection work, including an extraordinary baptism of fire in the infamous Triangle of Death, Sergeant Rex is both a heart-pounding and heart-warming account of how an unbreakable human-canine bond helped Mike and Rex to stay focused on their mission and save countless lives.
Theand#160;New York Timesand#160;bestselling author ofand#160;Soldier Dogsand#160;returns with the incredible, true story of K-9 Marine hero Lucca, and the handlers who fought alongside her through two bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.and#160;
Inand#160;Top Dog, Maria Goodavage takes readers into the life of Lucca K458, a decorated and highly skilled military working dog. An extraordinary bond develops between Lucca and Marine Corps dog handlers Chris Willingham and Juan Rodriguez, in what would become a legendary 400-mission career. A Specialized Search Dog, Lucca belongs to an elite group trained to work off-leash at long distances from her handler. She served alongside both Special Forces and regular infantry, and became so sought-after that platoons frequently requested her by name.and#160;
The book describes in gritty detail Lucca's adventures on and off the battlefields, including tense, lifesaving explosives finds and firefights, as well as the bravery of fellow handlers and dogs they served with. Ultimately we see how the bond between Lucca and her handlers overcame the endless brutalities of war and the traumas this violence ignites.
Here is a portrait of modern warfare with a heartwarming and inspiring conclusion that will touch dog lovers and the toughest military readers.
"Tom Clavin's Reckless reads like a wonderful and inspiring combination of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit and Unbroken."Nelson DeMille, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
From the racetracks of Seoul to the battlegrounds of the Korean War, Reckless was a horse whose strength, tenacity, and relentless spirit made her a hero amongst a regiment of U.S. Marines fighting for their lives on the front lines.
Her Korean name was Ah-Chim-HaiFlame-of-the-Morning. A four-year-old chestnut-colored Mongolian racehorse with a white blaze down her face and three white stockings, she once amazed the crowds in Seoul with her remarkable speed. But when war shut down the tracks, the star racer was soon sold to an American Marine and trained to carry heavy loads of artillery shells up and down steep hills under a barrage of bullets and bombs. The Marines renamed her Reckless.
Reckless soon proved fearless under fire, boldly marching alone through the fiery gauntlet, exposed to explosions and shrapnel. For months, her drive and determination kept the Marines guns blazing, while inspiring them with her singular charm. During one day of battle alone, she made fifty-one trips up and down a crucial hill, covering at least thirty-five miles in the heat of combat. On some of her uphill treks, Reckless shielded human reinforcements. The Chinese, soon discovering the unique bravery of this magnificent animal, made a special effort to kill her. But Reckless never slowed. As months passed and the enemy grew bolder, the men came to appreciate her not just as a horse but as a weapon, and eventually, as a fellow Marine.
In Reckless, Tom Clavin, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Heart of Everything That Is, tells the unlikely story of a racehorse who truly became a war hero, beloved by the Marine Corps and decorated for bravery. A moving reminder of the unbreakable bond between people and animals, Reckless is a powerful tale of courage, survival, and even love in the face of overwhelming odds.
About the Author
Mike Dowling enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 2001, and graduated top of his class at MP school before entering a K9 training school. Upon completion of his training, he was assigned to the Military Working Dog Unit (MWDU) at the Marine Corps Camp Pendleton Base. He deployed to Iraq in March 2004, and was awarded the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his and Rex’s Iraq operations. Mike is presently serving with a Marine Corps unit that rehabilitates wounded Marines.
Damien Lewis has reported from war and conflict zones and aid and conservation projects across Africa for twenty years for the BBC, Channel 4, ABC, CNN, and others. In 2007, he won the BBC one world popular feature award for his reporting on the Darfur crisis. He is the co-author of Undaunted: My Struggle for Freedom and Survival in Burma by Zoya Phan, Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur with Halima Bashir and Slave with Mende Nazer.