In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat in Iraqby Rick Atkinson
For soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division, the road to Baghdad began with a midnight flight out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in late February 2003. For Rick Atkinson, who would spend nearly two months covering the division for The Washington Post, the war in Iraq provided a unique opportunity to observe today's U.S. Army in combat. Now, in this extraordinary account of his odyssey with the 101st, Atkinson presents an intimate and revealing portrait of the soldiers who fight the expeditionary wars that have become the hallmark of our age.
At the center of Atkinson's drama stands the compelling figure of Major General David H. Petraeus, described by one comrade as "the most competitive man on the planet." Atkinson spent virtually all day every day at Petraeus's elbow in Iraq, where he had an unobstructed view of the stresses, anxieties, and large joys of commanding 17,000 soldiers in combat. And all around Petraeus, we see the men and women of a storied division grapple with the challenges of waging war in an unspeakably harsh environment.
With the eye of a master storyteller, a brilliant military historian puts us right on the battlefield. In the Company of Soldiers is a compelling, utterly fresh view of the modern American soldier in action.
- Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
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Read an Excerpt
From In the Company of Soldiers:
We turned around. Najaf was pacified, at least for today. Back at the middle school where No Slack had its battalion command post, Hodges told Petraeus that he had declared Ali's shrine to be a demilitarized zone, "so there's no military presence west of Highway 9." He also had issued edicts outlawing revenge killings, but allowing the looting of Baath Party or Fedayeen properties. "You see guys walking down the street with desks, office chairs, lights, curtains," Hodges said, and I wondered whether authorized pilfering was a slippery slope toward anarchy.
Before we walked back outside, Chris Hughes showed me a terrain model that had been
discovered in a bathroom stall in a Baathist headquarters. Built on a sheet of plywood, roughly five feet by three feet, it depicted the Iraqi plan for Najaf's defense. Green toy soldiers, representing the Americans, stood below the escarpment on the southwestern approach to the city. Red toy soldiers, representing the Iraqis, occupied revetments along the perimeter avenues, with fallback positions designated in the city center. The model included little plastic cars, plastic palm trees, even plastic donkeys. Nowhere did I see JDAMs, Apaches, Kiowas, Hellfires, or signs of reality.
Meet the Author
Rick Atkinson was a staff writer and senior editor at The Washington Post for twenty years. His most recent assignment was covering the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. He is the bestselling author of An Army at Dawn (0-8050-7448-1), The Long Gray Line (0-8050-6291-2), and Crusade. His many awards include Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and history. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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Rick Atkinson is one of the legends of Military History, and during the invasion of Iraq he took a break from his epic Liberation Trilogy and embedded with the 101st. With total access to the commanders he provides a rare glimpse of the war from both the field level and an over the shoulder look of the commanders decisions. General Petreus allowed total access to his decisions and the impacts they had on him.
This book was about two things. The day to day activity of the Commanding General and Atkinson's political views of the war and the current administration. You'll be disappointed if you're interested in the 101st Trooper.