Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington

Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington

by Paul Rieckhoff
     
 

The riveting, action-packed true story of the first soldier to challenge the war in Iraq.

As a 1st Lieutenant and Infantry Platoon Leader for the U.S. Army, charged with leading 38 young men in Iraq, Paul Rieckhoff was proud to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who served during Vietnam and WWII respectively. He and his soldiers spent almost

Overview

The riveting, action-packed true story of the first soldier to challenge the war in Iraq.

As a 1st Lieutenant and Infantry Platoon Leader for the U.S. Army, charged with leading 38 young men in Iraq, Paul Rieckhoff was proud to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who served during Vietnam and WWII respectively. He and his soldiers spent almost a year in one of the most dangerous and volatile areas of Baghdad. And what they encountered there was chaos: not nearly enough troops, no humanitarian aid, no body armor, no radios, and no real plan for what to do after Baghdad fell.

Rieckhoff was shocked to see that sometimes the greatest challenges his platoon faced did not come from enemy combatants. He saw fi rsthand the disastrous results of disbanding the Iraqi army, sending thousands of armed, angry, and unemployed men out into the streets. And he saw what happened when we tried to conduct a war on the cheap, by bestowing government contracts to the lowest bidder and sending our military into battle inadequately protected and armed. What followed, over the next ten months, set him on a course that would forever change his life.

When he fi nally came home from his tour of duty, Rieckhoff vowed to tell Americans the truth about what was going on in Iraq. He demanded accountability from elected officials and was the first Iraq veteran to do so publicly. He created Operation Truth, the first and largest veterans' group specifically for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through this organization, he has become a leading spokesman for troops, veterans, and their families, and a critical voice in the ongoing debate surrounding this conflict.

What is really happening in Iraq? Should we be there? Should we stay? Rieckhoff is in a unique position to answer these crucial questions. Not only was he on the ground in the heat of battle but he is also on the front lines politically at home. He provides a grunt's-eye view of the harrowing, bloody battles on the streets of Baghdad and a patriot's vision of where America has gone wrong and how it can reset its path.

Editorial Reviews

It was only logical that Paul Rieckhoff would volunteer for combat in Iraq. His father and grandfather had served in Vietnam and World War II, respectively. What he saw after he arrived in Baghdad, however, shook him to his patriotic core. American forces were undermanned and ill equipped; humanitarian aid was nowhere in sight; and post-"Mission Accomplished" planning seemed virtually nonexistent. The situation grew even worse after the Iraqi army was disbanded. His ten-month assignment served as a conversion experience; when he returned, Rieckhoff formed the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a pro-soldier group dedicated to examining the realities of the conflicts. In Chasing Ghosts, this now reluctant warrior describes his long road home.
Washington Post
...his straightforward style comes across as honest and underscores the earnestness of his attempt to wrest back from the Bush administration his cherished conception of America.
Publishers Weekly
An Operation Iraqi Freedom vet and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Rieckhoff recounts his journey from National Guard lieutenant to disillusioned patriot in this disappointing combat memoir-cum-polemic. Rieckhoff admits that he thought the reasons for invading Iraq were "bullshit," but volunteered to go anyway. His experiences in Iraq-patrolling the chaotic streets of Baghdad in the months after its occupation-only confirmed his initial judgment that the invasion "was one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in our nation's history." Rieckhoff is anything but humble. An Amherst grad (as he often interjects), he finds his recruiter repellant-a "slick, fat... Sergeant [who] smelled like a dirty ashtray"- but enlists anyway. President Bush is "arrogant" and "a bully," and Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer is "ignorant and out-of-touch." Rieckhoff is bipartisan in his contempt: when the Kerry campaign ignores his advice, he dismisses the Democratic presidential candidate as "a calculating and coached politician." Finally, he and a "small band of pissed-off visionaries" founded their own organization, Operation Truth, to get out the word. In the end, Rieckhoff has a story to tell, but he undermines his credibility with his arrogance and petty offside remarks. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Rieckhoff, a lieutenant and infantry platoon leader for the National Guard, starts his chronicle on a civilian 747 bound for Iraq two weeks after the U.S. invasion. He writes his somewhat angry but undeniably proud narrative with the intent to show us the circumstances in Iraq from a soldier's perspective. We see Rieckhoff leading his squad through its complex duties and how he worried about the tide of good will turning on his men. Outdated equipment, a lack of supplies, and little advance training in urban combat or Arab customs cause frustration. Wanting to make changes once he was home, Rieckhoff tried to reach out to both political parties. Although he issued the Democratic response to one of President Bush's radio addresses a year ago, he remains politically independent. He was also instrumental in forming a grassroots organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, to support and speak for his fellow veterans. His book is recommended for all public libraries.-Nancy Larrabee, Greenburgh P.L., Elmsford, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451218414
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/02/2006
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.15(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Gideon Yago
An honest, electric memoir.
Richard Clark
Rieckhoff's rage is the anger of a patriot.
Arianna Huffington
A book that all Americans who care about their country should read.
Max Cleland
This book hit me in the gut.... It is full of courage, GI talk, humor and pure patriotism.
Chuck D
Paul Rieckhoff is a human being of true substance and character.

Meet the Author

Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and executive director of Operation Truth-an advocacy group for soldiers and returning war veterans-enlisted in the US Army Reserves in 1998. After transferring to the New York Army National Guard, he graduated from Officer Candidate School in June 2001. He began Infantry Officers Basic Course at Fort Benning in February 2002, graduated in June, and immediately volunteered for active duty. He was called to Iraq in January 2003.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >