United States Marines, for more than two centuries, have been among the world's fiercest and most admired of warriors. They have fought from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan and Iraq, in famous battles become bone and sinew of American lore. But why do Marines fight? Why fight so well? Why run toward the guns? Now comes a thrilling new book, pounding and magnificent in scope, by the author some Marines consider the unofficial "poet laureate" of their Corps.
James Brady interviews combat Marines from wars ranging from World War II to Afghanistan, their replies in their own individual voices unique and powerful, an authentically American story of a country at war, as seen through the eyes of its warriors.
Culling his own correspondence and comradeship with hundreds of fellow Marines, Brady compiles a story---lyrical and historical---of the motivations and emotions behind this compelling question. Included are the accounts of Senator James Webb and his lance corporal son, Jim; New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly; Yankee second baseman (and Marine fighter pilot) Jerry Coleman, and of teachers, firemen, authors, cops, Harvard football players, and just plain grunts, as well as the unforgettable story of Jack Rowe, who lost an eye and other parts and now grows avocados and chases rattlesnakes. Their stories poignantly and profoundly illustrate the lives and legacies of battlefront Marines.
Why Marines Fight is a ruthlessly candid book about professional killers not ashamed to recall their doubts as well as exult in their savagely triumphant battle cries. A book of weight and heft that Marines, and Americans everywhere, will want to read, and may find impossible to forget.
Praise for James Brady
The Scariest Place in the World
"[A] graceful, even elegant, and always eloquent tribute to men at arms in a war that, in a way, never ended."
"James Brady has done it again. A riveting and illuminating insight into a dark corner of the world."
---Tim Russert, NBC's Meet the Press
The Coldest War
"His story reads like a novel, but it is war reporting at its best---a graphic depiction, in all its horrors, of the war we've almost forgotten."
"A marvelous memoir. A sensitive and superbly written narrative that eventually explodes off the pages like a grenade in the gut . . .taut, tight, and telling."
"In The Marine, James Brady again gives us a novel in which history is a leading character, sharing the stage in this case with a man as surely born to be a gallant warrior as any knight in sixth-century Camelot."
The Marines of Autumn
"Mr. Brady knows war, the smell and the feel of it."
---The New York Times
The reasons are almost as numerous as the Marine combat veterans quoted and profiled in this engaging collection of reminiscences. Many cite the training and discipline drilled into recruits and the determination not to let down one's buddies. Others are motivated by vengeance after a friend is killed. Gen. Smedley Butler, after a career invading banana republics in the early 20th century, opines that he fought mainly as "a gangster for Capitalism." Some fight for the thrill of it ("the heavy machine gun made you feel like no one could touch you"), and some fight out of the sheer cussedness personified by Sgt. Dan Daley, who shouted, "Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?" as he led his men against the Germans in France in 1918. Parade columnist Brady (The Coldest War), a Korean War Marine vet, sketches vivid thumbnails of his interlocutors and sets the right leatherneck vibe sympathetic, irreverent, comradely to draw them out. Some tales meander; this is very much a meeting of old (and a few young) soldiers catching up and telling war stories in a glow of nostalgia. Still, Brady assembles from them an unusually personal and revealing collage of the nation in arms.