The dramatic story of West Point's class of 2002, the first in a generation to graduate during wartime
They came to West Point in a time of peace, but soon after the start of their senior year, their lives were transformed by September 11. The following June, when President George W. Bush spoke at their commencement and declared that America would "take the battle to the enemy," the men and women in the class of 2002 understood that they would be fighting on the front lines. In this stirring account of the five years following their graduation from West Point, the class experiences firsthand both the rewards and the costs of leading soldiers in the war on terror.
In a Time of War focuses on two members of the class of 2002 in particular: Todd Bryant, an amiable, funny Californian for whom military service was a family tradition; and Drew Sloan, the hardworking son of liberal parents from Arkansas who is determined to serve his country. On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, Todd, Drew, and their classmates—the army's newest and youngest officers—lead their troops into harm's way again and again.
Meticulously reported, sweeping in scope, Bill Murphy Jr.'s powerful book follows these brave and idealistic officers—and their families—as they experience the harrowing reality of the modern battlefield. In a Time of War tells a vivid and sometimes heartbreaking story about courage, honor, and what war really means to the soldiers whose lives it defines.
The West Point cadets Murphy follows through their baptism by fire are an admirable sample of young American men and women: intelligent, ambitious and intensely patriotic. Most come from career military families and hold conservative opinions. Murphy describes their four years at West Point with respect even when discussing their love lives and marriages. All yearn for battle, and most get their wish. The book's best passages describe the confusion of moving to Iraq or Afghanistan and fighting insurgents, for which they lack both training and equipment. All feel something is not right but concentrate on the job at hand; some inevitably die or are grievously wounded. In his classic, The Long Gray Line, Rick Atkinson followed West Point's 1966 class for 20 years. With only five years' perspective, Murphy lacks Atkinson's depth and epic scope, but his work stands out from much current military reporting by avoiding editorializing about war. He confines himself to a skillful journalistic narrative of events that are gripping enough to hold any reader's attention.
Wow, just wow.
I had to read this book for my “Perspectives of War” class, and I was utterly shocked at the power it has. I started off not wanting to read it and even went online to see if there was a “Cliff’s Notes” or something on it. But as I read on, it really started to grow on me and I ended up really enjoying this book. A great read and an amazing story.
10/10 would read again.
I grew up with Todd Bryant, was at his West Point graduation and wedding. Bill Murphy Jr. does a wonderful capturing the spirit of Todd and these other brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice. He details their training after graduation and follows their deployments into Iraq. A wonderful look lives and challenges that the men and women who graduate from West Point face as the prepare and head off to war.