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Mass Casualties: A Young Medic's True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

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    A powerful tale of the reality of war

    We are all very distracted on a daily basis, and often forget that on the other side of the world there are men and women serving our country 24 hours a day. Yes, occasionally the media will remind us with a brief report counting the KIAs for that particular day, week, or month. Or perhaps we will hear about a request for more troops, or the kidnapping of a journalist. However, few stories capture the essence of the soldier's actual experience. Few stories depict the soldiers struggle, the soldiers sacrifice, or even just the lifestyle of committing several months of an individual's life to the deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Mass Casualties is one soldier's eyewitness account. When most of us think about war we envision fire fights and American Heroes like John Wayne or GI Joe. We don't think about what these men do after the mission. Where do they sleep? How do they sleep? How could they sleep? Do they wish they were home? These questions and more are addressed in Mass Casualties.

    Many war books are either focused on historical facts, or splattered with military Jargon isolating the non-military audience. Mass Casualties however makes the experience accessible to any reader. Veterans of all wars will be able to relate to the material, and those who have no prior knowledge of the armed forces can just as easily dive in without a list of terminologies.

    What is most interesting about this memoir is the fact that Michael Anthony was an Army Medic. Most men go to war to take lives, but there are also some who are trained to save lives. Not just save the lives of their fellow comrades, but also the innocent citizens, and sometimes even the enemy.

    Mass Casualties is a book that should be on every American's reading list. I hope to see more works from author; Michael Anthony.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2009

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    Wow- The Next Kurt Vonnegut

    When I finished this book I just sat there and said wow. This book is written beautifully. His writing style is like nothing I have ever seen before. His style is unorthodox and it made me feel like the first time I read Kurt Vonnegut for the first time.

    He is so honest and candid with everything that went on with him while in Iraq and the military. He really lets you know what the military is like. Michael doesn't spare any discretion in his feelings and experiences in Iraq. I applaud him for being so open and forthcoming.

    I highly recommend this book for all readers, for any age group and any background.

    Jude

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

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    War is Hell

    Anyone thinking about going into the military would do well to read Michael Anthony's memoir, Mass Casualties: A Young Medic's True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq. While the title might suggest that this is the work of some renegade peacenik, another soldier-turned-antiwar-activist, Anthony in fact seems proud of his military service, and he never criticizes the US mission in Iraq. Not that any of that matters. Mass Casualties isn't about the politics of war. It's simply what it claims to be, a memoir, one soldier's remembrance of his time in Iraq.

    A natural storyteller, Anthony populates his book with memorable characters, some loveable, some not so loveable. There's Denti, a fellow operating room medic. "Denti's always been a storyteller, and I quickly learned to never believe anything he says, including the fact that he was a pimp, a drug dealer, gang member, and a weightlifting power-lifter-he says he only joined the Army because he wanted to get away from the hectic lifestyle." There's also Gagney, the staff sergeant in charge of the operating room who's not exactly the world's most gracious loser. "Then a month ago Gagney, Reto, Denti, and I were playing Risk, a game of global domination. I had an alliance with Reto, and we attacked Gagney's armies. Gagney flipped out, knocked the game board over, called us all 'f***ing idiot cheaters,' and stormed off."

    One can't read Mass Casualties without at some point being reminded of M*A*S*H. People are often joking around. People are often-okay, usually-okay, almost always-having sex-lots and lots of sex. But, more to the point, nobody wants to be there. This isn't summer camp. This is the Army. This is war. And everyone knows that at any given moment his life could come to a sudden, tragic end.

    Many who went to Iraq undoubtedly had it worse than Anthony. Indeed, his experience appears to have been a relatively good one. (Let me stress the word relatively.) And this is precisely why those wanting to join the military should read Mass Casualties. Because, as Anthony so masterfully illustrates, war thrusts all of its participants, even those who don't end up getting shot full of holes, into a situation that the human psyche is simply not equipped to handle.

    Contrary to what most eighteen-year-olds think, war isn't like a game of Halo. It's certainly nothing like the latest Army recruitment video. And to make matters worse, the military is largely run by a bunch of self-absorbed, even sadistic, people who don't seem to give a damn about those serving under them. At one point, Anthony describes how a colonel postpones treating a severely wounded soldier so he can finish attending an awards ceremony. Another time, the unit's officers refuse to send a suicidal soldier away to receive the care he needs, fearing that doing so might make them look bad.

    Yes, the military might "make you a man," that is, if you come back alive. But, as Mass Casualties demonstrates, as the record number of soldiers returning home with drug and alcohol addictions, with brain damage, with PTSD and other mental disorders, can testify, it's also likely to destroy you.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Read

    I don't know, I don't write a lot of reviews. I do know that I am a veteran and that I enjoyed this book. This is the only book I would recommend when someone asks me about the war.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    This young man gives the civilian world the wrong idea about wha

    This young man gives the civilian world the wrong idea about what it is to be a medic. This kid (to whom I am grateful for his service) nevertheless is NOT one of those medics that accompany infantry and Marines into battle to stabilize patch up and otherwise keep them alive long enough to get back to the Battalion Aid station. Once meatball surgery is done, to stop the bleeding and further stabilize the patient, then they are sent even further back to this young man's world My skepticism at his sincerity is raised with an obvious inaccuracy on the cover of the book itself. Two things, 1) he is wearing his soft cover like Joe S**T the Rag Man. If I came across an enlisted soldier below my rank wearing his cover like that, I would have him wear his cover correctly(take your index finger and middle finger and lay upon the bridge of your nose with your index finger on the bottom and your middle finger on the top. Follow the slope of your nose with your index finger at the bridge of your nose. Put your cover on and pull the bill down until it touches the top of your middle finger. That is how you wear a cover in the US Army correctly. Secondly, on the cover of the book, he is pictured holding a paintball gun and NOT an M-4 or an M-16

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    Extremely disappointing!

    When I saw the title and the premise of the book ‘a young medics true story of death, deception and dishonor in Iraq’ I was very interested to read Mass Casualties but I found it to be a continual SOAP opera primarily filled with him whining and speaking poorly about his co-workers. I hung in there until the end giving the benefit of the doubt, which is more than he gives anyone else but I wished I had stopped after the first couple of pages. Thankfully I got the book for $1.00 but paid almost $5.00 in shipping fees, which is $6.00 too much. I look forward to donating this to local Salvation Army at the beginning of the month.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2011

    Not sure...

    I just want to know why he is holding a paintball gun on the cover?

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    An excellent piece of writing

    This is one person's chronicle of a year in Iraq as an Army medic. It is not a pretty picture.

    The hospital is set up in, supposedly safe, northern Iraq. It has 3 operating rooms, so if a large number of wounded are brought in at the same time, very unpleasant decisions would have to be made about who lives and who dies. Staff Sergeant Gagney, the immediate boss of the medics, is one of those who seems to think that leadership involves lots of yelling. He agonizes for hours over the work schedule, and comes up with a rotating schedule for everyone; first shift one day, then second shift the next day, then third shift the next day, etc. Of course, this totally disrupts everyone's sleep patterns, so that, after a couple of weeks, everyone comes to work looking like the walking dead. After a month, a female staff sergeant, Hudge, is given the responsibility of making a new schedule. In half an hour, she makes up a more rational schedule that gives everyone the same shift each day.

    Later, when Hudge goes to Gagney to express her concerns about the way the unit is run, she is loudly accused of being the one with the emotional problem. When she visits the unit's Chaplain and mental Health Officer, Gagney had gotten to them first and told them about her supposedly unstable mental state. Another member of the unit attempts suicide. Instead of being sent home, or otherwise getting the help he needs, he is assigned extra duties, and basically told to suck it up. Another Sergeant shocks the unit by announcing that he is taking an emergency leave because his son has attempted suicide. Word filters back to the unit that he was seen in a local bar, back home, getting very friendly with a couple of prostitutes.

    A Marine is brought in with a broken jaw, so he is in a lot of pain. The doctor on duty would rather attend a unit-wide awards ceremony than attend to the Marine. The author is not the only one in the unit who learns the value of Ambien and NyQuil (drunk by the bottle) for nights when sleep is impossible. Did I forget to mention the frequent shellings that send everyone running to the nearest bunker?

    To call this a "wonderful" piece of writing might be the wrong word, because it gives many examples of human idiocy in a war zone, but it really is that good. By all means, read the "official" stories of American military personnel in Iraq, the read this to get the "real" story.

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  • Posted November 15, 2010

    A Must Read!!

    I read this book and was astonished about Michael Anthony's experiences over there. This is truly a must read for anybody and everybody who wants to know the real experiences of war and not what we hear from the media.
    Go pick up your copy today....defintely recommended for all!

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  • Posted April 16, 2010

    Two Tour Vet

    Posted April 16, 2010, 12:02 PM EST: I think anyone who has done more than one tour will understand. 2003 was a different war. 2004, 2005 were different wars as well. 2006-2007 bases were built there were Subway's, Pizza Hut's and Burger King's on base. How often in war movies is there a Burger King or Subway portrayed on a base in the middle of war, well they're there, yet in war movies they're still not depicted. There are a lot of things not depicted about the realities of war, it doesn't make them any less real. I was there in 2003 and again in 2006. In 2003 it was nothing AT ALL like what Michael describes. But in 2006, it was exactly as he described, EXACTLY. Big difference that there years makes. HANDS DOWN, best and Most accurate book out there on the war AFTER 2003/2004 and for anyone who wants to see what it was really, really like.

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  • Posted April 16, 2010

    Comparatively 03/06

    I think anyone who has done more than one tour will understand. 2003 was a different war. 2004, 2005 were different wars as well. 2006-2007 bases were built there were Subway's, Pizza Hut's and Burger King's on base. How often in war movies is there a Burger King or Subway portrayed on a base in the middle of war, well they're there, yet in war movies they're still not depicted. There are a lot of things not depicted about the realities of war, it doesn't make them any less real. I was there in 2003 and again in 2006. In 2003 it was nothing AT ALL like what Michael describes. But in 2006, it was exactly as he described, EXACTLY. Big difference that there years makes. HANDS DOWN, best and Most accurate book out there on the war AFTER 2003/2004 and for anyone who wants to see what it was really, really like.

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  • Posted April 6, 2010

    Well my Personl Opinion on this book is that its a really good book i enjoyed it alot

    I whould have to say that this book was one of the best books i have ever read and well iam not much for reading but i really did enjoy this book and i cant wait tell his next one comes out because i believe its going to be just as good or even better so i pretty excited for it to come out. So if you guys can do me a big favor and contact me once its comes out because i would really like to buy it so thank you very much.
    Sincerly,
    Leeanna Severson

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  • Posted February 27, 2010

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    Stress and Consequences

    Michael Anthony has published his journal recorded during his year in Iraq serving as a medic in the midst of the worse than bizarre war being played out around him. The book is a journal written with fine graphics dividing the entries by hours in the days in the weeks in the months of his tour of duty - all bound by the barbed wire that so aptly describes the imprisonment felt by those serving in a position for a given period of time to perform despite the belief in the cause. This writing technique serves Anthony well: he is freed from the literary confines of connecting incidents, minutes/hours/days, into a flowing story - the entries do that for him.

    What we learn from this young writer (of very great promise!) is not so much about the particular war in Iraq, but instead about what happens in every war in which civilians serve in the medical capacity. The flow of information is more about the interaction of the various members who comprise the OR team - the docs, the medics, the techs, the nurses, the true military personnel who command the actions away from the OR table - than it is about the war itself. Anthony introduces the friends he makes, the enemies he encounters, the pecking order of those in charge, the 'illegal activities' that are commonplace, the addictions, the chronic lack of sleep, and that most difficult hurdles of all - the agony of seeing young bodies both American and Iraqi torn by shrapnel and commonplace explosions. We feel Anthony's grief and disillusionment while we are sifting through his own addiction to sleeping pills, his only way to rest from the trauma and the at times exceeding boredom of the day.

    So what Michael Anthony has achieved in MASS CASUALTIES is an insider's (literally) account of being a medic in a war that grows ever more unpopular with each day. It is timely and it is well written. If the reader expects to discover significant information about the actual war strategies and atmosphere on the battlefield of Iraq, then this is not the book to read. But for a fine account of how the days pass while imprisoned by a war game far from home, Anthony captures that beautifully.

    Grady Harp

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    Very bold book and untactful!!!!

    I am a Hospital Corpsmen who has served three tours in harms way during some of the fiercest fighting on the front lines: Ramadi: 2004 January - 2004 November and Baghdad 2005 November - 2006 December.
    This is a awful book written on a Goose-Bump or Teenage romance novel/tabloid level by a immature medic. This book contains college freshman rebelliousness, with one persons self serving aims. It contains little to know literature on the self sacrifice and life saving expertise of our medical brothers and sisters.
    The word MASS CASUALTIES means any large number of casualties produced in a relatively short period of time, usually as the result of a single incident such as a military aircraft accident, hurricane, flood, earthquake, or armed attack that exceeds local logistic support capabilities.
    It does not mean whiney, undisciplined, hypersensitive REMF among a highly undisciplined U.S. Army unit that he could have tried to change earlier without making the U.S. Army`s role more difficult by bad publicity. That is, if this young mans story is correct.
    This young man took military dirty laundry and hung it on a hook for everyone to see. He states "I am doing it for the good of the soldier." This young man is using exploitation. Most of us professional health care providers/combat medics and corpsmen agree that by not taking internal action and going through civilian channels, you will make the military system weaker. They now have to try and fix all of these issues while fending off more oversight slowing down corrective action. If the military trys to operate like a civilian organization it will fail.
    The power of a individual sailor, marine, soldier, airman to make individual change through the appropriate channels is at its highest. Now there will be outside agencies trying to handle military affiars and raising questions that could have been dealt with more decisively, with more quickness and maintaining good order.
    If he felt so strongly or had the stones about his convictions he could have reported this to the Inspector General for action to be taken. If it still did not happen and as a last resort, he could have brought this to stars and stripes after he exhausted all measures.
    Mr. Anthony, you are a philanthropist, a whiner and a fake who lacks integrity and courage to bring up these matters affectively while in the military. Please ensure that you take any medic insignia, chevrons or identification and send it back to the military for someone with the appropriate honor, commitment and courage to serve.

    Its apparent this non-medics aims are for recognition and book sales despite his raising some funds for the troops. I fear that with my post, more personnel will read this book.

    If you want to read this book, do so at a library, borrow it from someone or read it in a book store. I would not recommend buying this book about a whiner who lacked the courage do take action in the organization.

    Sincerely: Doc

    Hey Mr Anthony, if you want the negative and positive truth about real corpsmen, medics and surgeons please see the below.
    Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital
    Memoirs of a Combat Medic by SSG Elissa Lonsdale's
    Combat Medic: World War II by John A Kerner
    Saber's Edge: A Combat Medic in Ramadi, Iraq (Hardcover)
    Doc: Heroic Stories of Medics,Corpsmen,and Surgeons by Mark R. Littleton
    The Gift of Valor: A War Story by Michael

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  • Posted December 22, 2009

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    Worth Reading!

    finished it the same day i bought it, well worth it!

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    Posted February 14, 2010

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    Posted September 7, 2011

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