Synopses & Reviews
Growing up in the shadows of the giant B-52 Stratofortresses that thundered away from nearby Barksdale, Louisiana, Air Force Base in defense of the free world, Brandon Friedman imagined growing up to be a warrior, proudly defending his country from enemies who would seek to oppress America. Ultimately, his path led him not to the U.S. Air Force and the life of a pilot, but to the U.S. Army and life as a soldier.
And not just any soldier, as an infantryman, a soldier who gets up close and personal with his foe in the kill or be killed arena that is close combat. Joining the Army in a world more or less at peace as a young officer, the new second lieutenant imagined proving his valor as he earned glory in the crucible of war. Then came 9/11 and the Army moved from a peaceful repose to full-fledged combat operations half a world away against al Qaeda, a new and illusive enemy, and their Taliban hosts.
As an infantry platoon leader in the elite 101st Airborne Division, the famed “Screaming Eagles,” Friedman and his unit soon found themselves in Afghanistan battling radical Islam in the high valleys of the Hindu Kush in Operation Anaconda. After a brief respite at their home base of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Friedman and the Screaming Eagles were off to war again, this time for the invasion and then occupation of Iraq.
In this coming-of-age memoir of a young combat leader, we follow Brandon Friedman as he comes to grips with the illusion of glory in the face of the disillusion caused by the realities war as the situation in Iraq spirals increasingly out of control.
Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007
“This cynical but appealing memoir by a lieutenant in the elite 101st Airborne recounts his unpleasant times fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. After a quick review of his youth (shy, smart, dreaming of glory), Friedman describes his unit's deployment to Afghanistan after 9/11 to fight the Taliban. Its mission turns out to be guarding an air base, four months of demoralizing boredom followed by urgent orders into battle. The result is an exhausting 11-hour march high into freezing mountains, where the soldiers arrive as the fighting ends. A year later, as American forces invade Iraq in March 2003, Friedman's unit advances almost to Baghdad without encountering resistance but yearning to fight. There follows three months of dull occupation duty until, to everyone's horror, a grenade kills two soldiers on patrol, and the insurgency begins. The author accepts that America needed to fight in Afghanistan, but can't fathom why we invaded Iraq. He does not re-enlist. Given the public's waning support for the war in Iraq, Friedman's voice is likely to be heard by sympathetic ears.”
Dallas Morning News
Throughout this terse and emotionally honest memoir, Mr. Friedman is equally introspective as he is descriptive. This allows readers to experience things alongside him, rather than merely gasp in awe at his heroics or sit clucking in judgment....This intimacy differentiates his book from other fine, if partisan, war memoirs that have come before it this summer: the wry and cynical Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green by the pseudonymous Jonny Rico, and Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's flag-waving Lone Survivor....No, Mr. Friedman's wartime experience wasn't worthy of winning him a Medal of Honor (he did earn two Bronze Stars) or even an option for a Hollywood screenplay, but it did endow him with a wisdom beyond his years. Surviving a war, it seems, takes a bit of luck; coping with the memory and aftermath of one takes maturity.
Army/Navy/Marine Corps/Air Force Times, Nov. 3, 2007
“Friedman’s take is vivid, frank, precise, and dramatic. Currently a contributor to the Daily Kos blog, Friedman served as an officer in Afghanistan and Iraq – but his being served ouzo in Greece is the book’s dramatic zenith, a tense account in which he successfully evokes feelings of being entrapped, of being duped, of being near harm. These feelings illustrate the effect of war and politics on one veteran fresh off the lines.”
The Viginian-Pilot, Dec. 2, 2007
“A candid, timely combat memoir … Well-written by an intellectual man, this book recalls classics such as Goodbye Darkness, The Coldest War, With the Old Breed, and countless others. Friedman offers frank descriptions and commentary about the incongruity of daily events, the deadly cruelty of an implacable enemy, and the terrible accidents that plague any large operation.”
Growing up in the shadows of the giant B-52 Stratofortresses that thundered away from the nearby Barksdale Air Force Base, Brandon Friedman dreamed of becoming a warrior and defending his country. But dreams of heroism and the realities of war can look very different, and when Brandon joined the army as a second lieutenant in peacetime, he had no way of knowing how his world was about to change.
This is Brandon Friedmans story of coming of age in a world awakening to the horrors made plain on 9/11. With the U. S. Army moving into full-fledged combat operations half a world away against Al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts, Brandon found himself facing an elusive enemy on unfamiliar ground. He tells how, as an infantry platoon leader in the elite 101st Airborne Division, the famed "Screaming Eagles," he and his unit struggled to find their footing in the high valleys of the Hindu Kush while battling radical Islam in operation Anaconda.
A brief respite at their home base in Kentucky, and Friedman and the Screaming Eagles were off to war again, this time in Iraq. In this gripping memoir of a young soldier learning the hardest lessons of combat, we see the terrors and disillusion of war as the insurgency in Iraq spirals out of control. And we see the true valor of character emerging under fire.
Brandon Friedman served as an infantry platoon leader and company executive officer with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. He participated in both Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan and in the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent insurgency. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
The memoir of a young infantry officer coming of age in a changing world of war, fighting on the shifting front lines of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Table of Contents
Part One. Fear
1. Western Kuwaiti Desert
2. Fort Campbell, Kentucky
3. Jacobabad, Pakistan
4. Bagram, Afghanistan
5. Shah-e-Kot Valley, Afghanistan
Part Two. Knowledge
6. The Desert
7. Hillah, Iraq
9. Northern Iraq
Part Three. Recovery
11. The Mediterranean
Glossary of Acronyms