Includes 32 color photos taken by the author during the month he was embedded with the 82nd in Kuwait and Iraq.
This is a riveting account of the war in Iraq moving north with the 82nd Airborne. Units of the 82nd depart Kuwait and convoy to Iraq's Tallil Air Base en route to night-and-day battles within the major city of Samawah and its intact bridges across the Euphrates. Boots on the Ground quickly becomes an action-filled microcosm of the new kinds of ultramodern war fighting showcased in the overall battle for Iraq. At the same time it remains specific to the daily travails of the soldiers. Karl Zinsmeister, a frontline reporter who traveled with the 82nd, vividly conveys the careful planning and technical wizardry that go into today's warfare, even local firefights, and he brings to life the constant air-ground interactions that are the great innovation of modern precision combat.
What exactly does it feel like to travel with a spirited body of fighting men? To come under fire? To cope with the battlefield stresses of sleep-deprivation, and a steady diet of field rations for weeks on end? Readers of this day-to-day diary are left with not only a flashing sequence of strong mental images, but also a notion of the sounds and smells and physical sensations that make modern military action unforgettable.
Ultimately, Boots on the Ground is a human story: a moving portrayal of the powerful bonds of affection, trust, fear, and dedication that bind real soldiers involved in battle. There are unexpected elements: The humor that bubbles up amidst dangerous fighting. The pathos of a badly wounded young boy. The affection openly exhibited by many American soldiers--love of country, love of family and hometown, love of each other. This is a true-life tale of superbly trained men in extraordinary circumstances, packed with concrete detail, often surpassing fiction for sheer drama.
This account of one reporter's month with the 82nd Airborne Division is both a conservative polemic and a vivid portrait of American infantrymen in action. Zinsmeister, who was embedded with the army as a correspondent for The National Review, makes no bones about his unabashed support for the war, and for the American military in general. (He tells readers that he's always taught his own children"to think of military jet noise as 'the sound of freedom.'") The prospect of spending time rubbing shoulders with soldiers in the trenches clearly delights him even before he touches down on Iraqi soil. There is humor in the Zinsmeister's account of bartering for gear in Kuwait's"Body Armor Bazaar," and he provides useful insights into how many of the non-combat operations are actually performed by private civilian contractors. One of the best moments in the book movingly recounts how an Iraqi doctor worked with American soldiers to try to save a wounded boy, yet still refused to tell Zinsmeister his name for fear that his cooperation would draw reprisals later on. The author also gives heartening evidence of the genuine care taken by the troops to avoid civilian casualties. (Less agreeable is his evidence that guerrilla warfare was in full cry even before the formal end of the war.) But readers interested in this information should be prepared to wade through pages and pages of splenetic rants against the anti-war movement and Zinsmeister's fellow journalists, whom he dubs"left-wing, cynical, wiseguy Ivy League types." Such flaws, unfortunately, are not entirely redeemed by the book's outstanding array of color photographs.