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Breathing the Fire: Fighting to Survive, and Get Back to the Fight

Breathing the Fire: Fighting to Survive, and Get Back to the Fight

by Kimberly Dozier

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CBS Foreign Correspondent Kimberly Dozier shares her compelling story from being injured in Iraq to her recovery...shedding light on the ordeal faced by countless combat veterans and civilians.


CBS Foreign Correspondent Kimberly Dozier shares her compelling story from being injured in Iraq to her recovery...shedding light on the ordeal faced by countless combat veterans and civilians.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kimberly Dozier is a former CBS news correspondent who became the news during an embed assignment in Baghdad over the Memorial Day weekend in 2006. What was to be a 'routine' assignment, if such a thing existed, turned into a hellish nightmare after a 500 pound car bomb was detonated at the scene. Assigned to follow a patrol over the holiday while Americans at home were eating their barbeque and doing their best to forget about the war, the incident put the war back 'above the fold'. Four members of the party, Captain ames Alex Funkhouser, USA, CBS cameraman Paul Douglas, CBS soundman James Brolan and Captain Funhouser's Iraqi translator, Sam, died at the scene, all but Douglas, instantly. Breathing the Fire is Dozier's account of that day and the aftermath it wrought.

The story is engrossing, and as a reporter, Dozier makes it a compelling read. The book opens with Dozier setting the scene the night before the assignment. From there she darts back and forth through time, recounting the story as well as how she put the pieces of the story together. Not unusually for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) sufferer, it took a lot of time and a lot of digging to get the pieces to fall into place. She had to rely on information from outside sources until her slowly recovering brain could fill in all the facts.

Breathing the Fire gives an in-depth view of trauma care and a small glimpse of the people who provide it. Dozier sets the scene from the Baghdad street corner all the way through her return to work. Included are stops at the Combat Support Hospital (CSH) in Baghdad's Green Zone and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a "way station" in Germany for injured troops from Iraq and
Afghanistan, as well as troops based in Germany and their family members. From there Dozier is transferred to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and finally to Kernan Hospital for further rehabilitation.

Through each step, Dozier paints a vivid picture of her injuries, her pain and her care. The tale is emotionally raw and honest. She describes the toll that the bomb took not only on her and her loved ones, but those of the other victims as well. She talks to other service members from the scene as well as family members of those that were lost. In the process, she also tells the story of how she got to her position in Baghdad. The book is really an autobiography of her entire life, including her fight to return to 'normal life' and get back in the field.

Overall, this was a riveting read; almost in stream-of-consciousness mode, the pages keep turning as the tale moves along. The faults are few: Dozier shows a tendency to repeat herself occasionally; the quickly shifting timeline can be a little confusing at times; she also tends to break situations, things and people into simply dichotomies. There is very little grey; there is good and there is evil. And, with very few exceptions, regarding people, the split is class-based: military figures in the field are all good,
administrators, not so much. Nurses and corpsmen are good, doctors tend to be evil. (This is one area where exceptions can be found, notably Dr. Dunne at Bethesda)

Additionally, Dozier spends a decent amount of the book justifying herself, her life and her career choices. While understandable given the context, at times it doesn't come across very well. She mentions in the postscript to the paperback edition that with some time and distance, she saw the writing as "angry" and chose not to edit that out, as it was her true self at that time. I didn't sense anger so much as defensiveness and I don't know that Dozier has anything about which to be defensive.

The book is fairly gritty and unvarnished about the hospital and recovery process, so hospital staff recommend that loved ones read it to understand what a patient is going through.

Military commanders say the blow-by-blow of the bombing also starts conversations between troops and loved ones about what they've seen overseas.

This is the best book I've read about being blown up in Iraq, nearly dying, and recovering. Kim, one of the more courageous people I've ever met, is donating all profits to charities for wounded soldiers. So what are you waiting for?

Military Review
In the last third of her book, Dozier paints a vivid picture of what it is actually like to be a war correspondent. Her description of running military checkpoints and dodging Iraqi troops in the initial race to Baghdad crackles with energy and virtually leaps from the page.
Carol A. Saynisch, M.A.
Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
While meant to be a memoir of her personal journey, Dozier’s account of her injuries and emotional challenges she faced personifies thousands of U.S. heroes wounded by improvised explosive devices, the signature weapons of the war in Iraq. …whether you are a wounded warrior, a clinician, a patient, or a person struggling with loss, this detailed account of a unique continuum of care will grip and inspire you.
Akhila Kosaraju, MD S. Ward Casscells
The Washington Post
With self-deprecating wit, Dozier recounts her determination to recover, never straying into self-pity. Her wounds gave her an insider''s perspective on one of the top military stories on the homefront: inattention to veterans'' medical and psychological care. As a television celebrity, however, she faced the opposite problem: a crush of attention from other reporters. "I was a single representative showing [the public] in a horribly fresh way something they''d long been numb to.
The O'Reilly Factor
I highly recommend your book.
Dan Rather
..a rare, personal view - with all the attention to detail a great reporter brings to bear.

Product Details

Fox Chapel Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

Lesley Stahl
Kimberly Dozier has mastered the great art of storytelling in her brilliant book about how she survived an I.E.D. attack in Iraq. She writes of her ordeal without self-pity, dissecting and reliving the trials of Job: broken bones, burns, infections, unbearable pain and occasional medical advice that made things worse. What she did to survive is remarkable; her account of it is raw and riveting. You can''t put it down. (Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes)
Tom Brokaw
A master storyteller and one tough journalist. America is lucky to have her on the front lines of reporting.

Meet the Author

Covering events for the Middle East as a foreign correspondent for CBS News, Kimberly Dozier earned a reputation for being on top of the news, from disputed territories of Israel to the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden. She reported on the war in Iraq from 2003 until she was injured by a car bomb in 2006. She recently returned to Iraq as an Intelligence/Counterterrorism correspondent for the Associated Press.

Previously she was London Bureau Chief for CBS Radio News, has received four Gracie Awards and a Peabody Award, including one for her body of work in Iraq, has done reporting for the Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and been featured on CBS Primetime and in Glamour magazine.


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