Generation Kill

Generation Kill

by Evan Wright

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425224748
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/01/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 93,519
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Evan Wright is the author of Hella Nation and Generation Kill, the basis of the HBO® miniseries for which he served as co-writer. Wright earned his degree in medieval and Renaissance studies from Vassar College, an education he soon put work at Hustler magazine, where he served as “Entertainment Editor.” In the late 1990's he began writing feature articles for Rolling Stone focused on youth subcultures, from radical environmentalists to skinheads to sorority girls. His work is characterized by immersion in his subjects' worlds, detailed reporting and dark humor.

After 9/ll he pitched his editor on the idea that since the US military was “basically another youth subculture,” he ought to be writing about it. Generation Kill received numerous awards, including the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Los Angeles Times book award, a PEN USA literary prize and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation's award for “Best History of the Marine Corps.”

Wright has covered the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the recipient of two National Magazine Awards, one for reporting on the war in Iraq in Rolling Stone and the other for a profile published in Vanity Fair.

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

It's another Iraqi town, nameless to the Marines racing down the main drag in Humvees, blowing it to pieces. We're flanked on both sides by a jumble of walled, two-story mud-brick buildings, with Iraqi gunmen concealed behind windows, on rooftops and in alleyways, shooting at us with machine guns, AK rifles and the odd rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). Though it's nearly five in the afternoon, a sandstorm has plunged the town into a hellish twilight of murky red dust. Winds howl at fifty miles per hour. The town stinks. Sewers, shattered from a Marine artillery bombardment that ceased moments before we entered, have overflowed, filling the streets with lagoons of human excrement. Flames and smoke pour out of holes blasted through walls of homes and apartment blocks by the Marines' heavy weapons. Bullets, bricks, chunks of buildings, pieces of blown-up light poles and shattered donkey carts splash into the flooded road ahead.

The ambush started when the lead vehicle of Second Platoon-the one I ride in-rounded the first corner into the town. There was a mosque on the left, with a brilliant, cobalt-blue dome. Across from this, in the upper window of a three-story building, a machine gun had opened up. Nearly two dozen rounds ripped into our Humvee almost immediately. Nobody was hit; none of the Marines panicked. They responded by speeding into the gunfire and attacking with their weapons. The four Marines crammed into this Humvee-among the first American troops to cross the border into Iraq-had spent the past week wired on a combination of caffeine, sleep deprivation, tedium and anticipation. For some of them, rolling into an ambush was almost an answered prayer.

Their war began several days ago, as a series of explosions that rumbled across the Kuwaiti desert beginning at about five in the morning of March 20. The Marines, who had been sleeping in holes dug into the sand twenty kilometers south of the border with Iraq, sat up and gazed into the empty expanse, their faces blank as they listened to the distant thundering. They had eagerly awaited the start of war since leaving their base at Camp Pendleton, California, more than six weeks earlier. Spirits couldn't have been higher. Later, when a pair of Cobra helicopter gunships thumped overhead, flying north, presumably on their way to battle, Marines pumped their fists in the air and screamed, "Yeah! Get some!"

Get some! is the unofficial Marine Corps cheer. It's shouted when a brother Marine is struggling to beat his personal best in a fitness run. It punctuates stories told at night about getting laid in whorehouses in Thailand and Australia. It's the cry of exhilaration after firing a burst from a .50-caliber machine gun. Get some! expresses, in two simple words, the excitement, the fear, the feelings of power and the erotic-tinged thrill that come from confronting the extreme physical and emotional challenges posed by death, which is, of course, what war is all about. Nearly every Marine I've met is hoping this war with Iraq will be his chance to get some.

Marines call exaggerated displays of enthusiasm-from shouting Get some! to waving American flags to covering their bodies with Marine Corps tattoos-"moto." You won't ever catch Sergeant Brad Colbert, the twenty-eight-year-old commander of the vehicle I ride in, engaging in any moto displays. They call Colbert "The Iceman." Wiry and fair-haired, he makes sarcastic pronouncements in a nasal whine that sounds like comedian David Spade. Though he considers himself a "Marine Corps killer," he's also a nerd who listens to Barry Manilow, Air Supply and practically all the music of the 1980s except rap. He is passionate about gadgets: He collects vintage video-game consoles and wears a massive wristwatch that can only properly be "configured" by plugging it into his PC. He is the last guy you would picture at the tip of the spear of the invasion forces in Iraq.

Now, in the midst of this ambush in a nameless town, Colbert appears utterly calm. He leans out his window in front of me, methodically pumping grenades into nearby buildings with his rifle launcher. The Humvee rocks rhythmically as the main gun on the roof turret, operated by a twenty-three-year-old corporal, thumps out explosive rounds into buildings along the street. The vehicle's machine gunner, a nineteen-year-old Marine who sits to my left, blazes up the town, firing through his window like a drive-by shooter. Nobody speaks.

The fact that the enemy in this town has succeeded in shutting up the driver of this vehicle, Corporal Josh Ray Person, is no mean feat. A twenty-two-year-old from Missouri with a faintly hick accent and a shock of white-blond hair covering his wide, squarish head-his blue eyes are so far apart Marines call him "Hammerhead" or "Goldfish"-Person plans to be a rock star when he gets out of the Corps. The first night of the invasion, he had crossed the Iraqi border, simultaneously entertaining and annoying his fellow Marines by screeching out mocking versions of Avril Lavigne songs. Tweaking on a mix of chewing tobacco, instant coffee crystals, which he consumes dry by the mouthful, and over-the-counter stimulants like ephedra-based Ripped Fuel, Person never stops jabbering. Already he's reached a profound conclusion about this campaign: that the battlefield that is Iraq is filled with "fucking retards." There's the retard commander in the battalion, who took a wrong turn near the border, delaying the invasion by at least an hour. There's another officer, a classic retard, who has spent much of the campaign chasing through the desert to pick up souvenirs-helmets, Republican Guard caps and rifles-thrown down by fleeing Iraqi soldiers. There are the hopeless retards in the battalion-support sections who screwed up the radios and didn't bring enough batteries to operate the Marines' thermal-imaging devices. But in Person's eyes, one retard reigns supreme: Saddam Hussein. "We already kicked his ass once," he says. "Then we let him go, and he spends the next twelve years pissing us off even more. We don't want to be in this shithole country. We don't want to invade it. What a fucking retard."

Now, as enemy gunfire tears into the Humvee, Person hunches purposefully over the wheel and drives. The lives of everyone depend on him. If he's injured or killed and the Humvee stops, even for a moment in this hostile town, odds are good that everyone will be wiped out, not just the Marines in this vehicle, but the nineteen others in the rest of the platoon following behind in their Humvees. There's no air support from attack jets or helicopters because of the raging sandstorm. The street is filled with rubble, much of it from buildings knocked down by the Marines' heavy weapons. We nearly slam into a blown-up car partially blocking the street. Ambushers drop cables from rooftops, trying to decapitate or knock down the Humvee's turret gunner. Person zigzags and brakes as the cables scrape across the Humvee, one of them striking the turret gunner who pounds on the roof, shouting, "I'm okay!"

At least one Marine in Colbert's Humvee seems ecstatic about being in a life-or-death gunfight. Nineteen-year-old Corporal Harold James Trombley, who sits next to me in the left rear passenger seat, has been waiting all day for permission to fire his machine gun. But no chance. The villagers Colbert's team had encountered had all been friendly until we hit this town. Now Trombley is curled over his weapon, firing away. Every time he gets a possible kill, he yells, "I got one, Sergeant!" Sometimes he adds details: "Hajji in the alley. Zipped him low. I seen his knee explode!"

Midway through the town, there's a lull in enemy gunfire. For an instant, the only sound is wind whistling through the Humvee. Colbert shouts to everyone in the vehicle: "You good? You good?" Everyone's all right. He bursts into laughter. "Holy shit!" he says, shaking his head. "We were fucking lit up!"

Forty-five minutes later the Marines swing pickaxes into the hard desert pan outside of the town, setting up defensive positions. Several gather around their bullet-riddled Humvees, laughing about the day's exploits. Their faces are covered with dust, sand, tar, gun lubricant, tobacco spittle and sewer water from the town. No one's showered or changed out of the bulky chemical-protection suits they've been wearing for ten days. Since all mirrors and reflective surfaces have been stripped from their Humvees to make the vehicles harder to detect, most of the men haven't seen themselves since crossing the border. Their filthy faces seem to make their teeth shine even whiter as they laugh and hug one another.

The platoon's eldest member, thirty-five-year-old Gunnery Sergeant Mike "Gunny" Wynn, walks among the Marines, grabbing their heads and shaking them like you would when playing with a puppy. "All right!" he repeats in his mild Texas accent. "You made it, man!"

"Who's the fucking retard who sent us into that town?" Person asks, spitting a thick stream of tobacco juice, which catches in the wind and mists across the faces of several of his buddies standing nearby. "That sure tops my list of stupid shit we've done."

Trombley is beside himself. "I was just thinking one thing when we drove into that ambush," he enthuses. "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I felt like I was living it when I seen the flames coming out of windows, the blown-up car in the street, guys crawling around shooting at us. It was fucking cool."

Culturally, these Marines would be virtually unrecognizable to their forebears in the "Greatest Generation." They are kids raised on hip-hop, Marilyn Manson and Jerry Springer. For them, "motherfucker" is a term of endearment. For some, slain rapper Tupac is an American patriot whose writings are better known than the speeches of Abraham Lincoln. There are tough guys among them who pray to Buddha and quote Eastern philosophies and New Age precepts gleaned from watching Oprah and old kung fu movies. There are former gangbangers, a sprinkling of born-again Christians and quite a few guys who before entering the Corps were daily dope smokers; many of them dream of the day when they get out and are once again united with their beloved bud.

These young men represent what is more or less America's first generation of disposable children. More than half of the guys in the platoon come from broken homes and were raised by absentee, single, working parents. Many are on more intimate terms with video games, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own parents. Before the "War on Terrorism" began, not a whole lot was expected of this generation other than the hope that those in it would squeak through high school without pulling too many more mass shootings in the manner of Columbine.

But since the 9/11 attacks, the weight of America's "War on Terrorism" has fallen on their shoulders. For many in the platoon, their war started within hours of the Twin Towers falling, when they were loaded onto ships to begin preparing for missions in Afghanistan. They see the invasion of Iraq as simply another campaign in a war without end, which is pretty much what their commanders and their president have already told them. (Some in the military see the "War on Terrorism" merely as an acceleration of the trend that started in the 1990s with Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo: America cementing its role as global enforcer, the world's Dirty Harry.) In Iraq the joke among Marines is "After finishing here, we're going to attack North Korea, and we'll get there by invading Iran, Russia and China."

They are the first generation of young Americans since Vietnam to be sent into an open-ended conflict. Yet if the dominant mythology that war turns on a generation's loss of innocence-young men reared on Davy Crockett waking up to their government's deceits while fighting in Southeast Asian jungles; the nation falling from the grace of Camelot to the shame of Watergate-these young men entered Iraq predisposed toward the idea that the Big Lie is as central to American governance as taxation. This is, after all, the generation that first learned of the significance of the presidency not through an inspiring speech at the Berlin Wall but through a national obsession with semen stains and a White House blow job. Even though their Commander in Chief tells them they are fighting today in Iraq to protect American freedom, few would be shaken to discover that they might actually be leading a grab for oil. In a way, they almost expect to be lied to.

If there's a question that hangs over their heads, it's the same one that has confronted every other generation sent into war: Can these young Americans fight?

As the sky turns from red to brown in the descending dust storm outside the town the Marines have just smashed apart, their platoon commander, a twenty-five-year-old lieutenant named Nathaniel Fick, leans against his Humvee, watching his men laugh. Lieutenant Fick, a Dartmouth graduate who joined the Marines in a fit of idealism, shakes his head, grinning. "I'll say one thing about these guys," he says. "When we take fire, not one of them hesitates to shoot back. In World War Two, when Marines hit the beaches, a surprisingly high percentage of them didn't fire their weapons, even when faced with direct enemy contact. They hesitated. Not these guys. Did you see what they did to that town? They fucking destroyed it. These guys have no problem with killing."

Several Marines from Colbert's vehicle gather around Corporal Anthony Jacks, a twenty-three-year-old heavy-weapons gunner. Jacks is six foot two, powerfully built, and has a smile made unforgettable by his missing two front teeth (shot out in a BB-gun fight with his brother when he was sixteen). The Marines' nickname for him is "Manimal," not so much in tribute to his size but because of his deep, booming voice, which, when he yells, is oddly reminiscent of a bellowing farm animal. The platoon credits him with pretty much saving everyone's life during the ambush. Of the four heavy-weapons gunners in the platoon, Manimal alone succeeded in destroying the enemy's prime machine-gun position across from the mosque. For several minutes his buddies have been pounding him on the back, recounting his exploits. Howling and laughing, they almost seem like Johnny Knoxville's posse of suburban white homies celebrating one of his more outrageously pointless Jackass stunts. "Manimal was a fucking wall of fire!" one of them shouts. "All I seen was him dropping buildings and blowing up telephone poles!"

"Shut up, guys! It ain't funny!" Manimal roars, pounding the side of the Humvee with a massive paw.

He silences his buddies. They look down, some of them suppressing guilty smiles.

"The only reason we're all laughing now is none of us got killed," Manimal lectures them. "That was messed up back there."

It's the first time anyone has seriously raised this possibility: that war is not fun, that it might, in fact, actually suck.

In the coming weeks, it will fall on the men in this platoon and their battalion to lead significant portions of the American invasion of Iraq. They belong to an elite unit, First Reconnaissance Battalion, which includes fewer than 380 Marines. Outfitted with lightly armored or open-top Humvees that resemble oversized dune buggies, they will race ahead of the much larger, better-equipped primary Marine forces in Iraq. Their mission will be to seek out enemy ambushes by literally driving into them.

Major General James Mattis, commander of the First Marine Division-the bulk of the Corps' ground forces in Iraq-would later praise the young men of First Recon for being "critical to the success of the entire campaign." While spearheading the American blitzkrieg in Iraq, they will often operate deep behind enemy lines and far beyond anything they have trained for. They will enter Baghdad as liberating heroes only to witness their astonishing victory crumble into chaos. They will face death every day. They will struggle with fear, confusion, questions over war crimes and leaders whose competence they don't trust. Above all, they will kill a lot of people. A few of those deaths the men will no doubt think about and perhaps regret for the rest of their lives.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Generation Kill"
by .
Copyright © 2008 Evan Wright.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“One of the best books to come out of the Iraq war.”—Financial Times

“Stunning.”—Boston Herald

“Engrossing.”—Washington Post

“Shockingly honest.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Complex.”—New York Times

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Generation Kill 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 176 reviews.
Raven_Nevermore2004 More than 1 year ago
Generation Kill is a daunting and eye opening account of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I as well as most people in America I'm sure, thought of the invasion to be an easy sweep across the desert country. It was compared to other military invasions, but when you get down to the nitty gritty of it and experience what the individual soldiers experienced you see just how special these men and women are. This book details the atrocities a group of special marines had to go through on their way to Baghdad. The buildup of the characters in important in portraying the events as real. You don't want to see them get hurt. You want to relate to them or put yourselves in their shoes. I have never seen the HBO series, but I don't need to. This book does enough to illustrate the strong will of these men and what it took to take over Iraq and occupy it. A good read would be an understatement.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found it very hard to put this book down once I started reading it. Actually I have not yet finished with it, I'm stretching it out to last as long as possible. If you want a realistic and accurate impression of the start of the current war in Iraq, this tome is for you. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad and tragic, many times funny. The dialogue is very catchy, for instance you don't say fire when you want to engage the enemy, you say 'light em up'. Also included are many good photos of the cast of characters. It gives you the feeling you almost know these Marines, most just out of their teens. So if you like reading about the Military and Military conflict as I do, I recommend that you buy, beg, borrow or steal this book.
Isaac Tran More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining and well written. I throughly enjoyed reading every single page in this book. It offers an interesting perspective on the war in Iraq.
sluf More than 1 year ago
As a former Marine NCO, this book reveals alot about the basic day to day facts of life that Marines endure when deployed over seas. This is one of the few books that actually protrays life in a line unit. Both the good and the bad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a revelation!! Young combat Marines being emotional and speaking their minds to a willing Walter Mitty. Just kidding about the revelation thing. I was in the 1st Marine Division during this time period and believe me all these men are interchangeable with every other Marine...at least in thought processes if not qualifications. The only exception was that the other Marines were well led. Too bad the author got stuck with the moronic leadership of that company and in that battalion at that time. Although his agenda was clear, and would have been for any other unit he embedded with, the book leads one to believe that malcontents stumbled their way to victory. Obviously not the case. This leads me to believe his goal was to appeal to the 'wanna-be' commando types like some of the reviewers below who believe everything written to be fact. Add this book to your soldier of fortune hero collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been trying to read first hand accounts of the Iraq War, as many of you have, to experience (through reading only) what the enlisted man went through as a soldier in this war. Politics has totally corrupted the current events genre, and the politics of this war are particulary disrupting. This author, Evan Wright, has NO BONES TO PICK. (the most important thing right now). The reviewer before who gave this book one star is completely incorrect, the platoon never does anything more than complain about the grooming standard, or the commander of first Recon who administors it. The author states they respect him (Ferrando) although they think is going to get them killed through his aggresiveness. However, they do rebel against their company commander (Captain America). I suggest the previous reviewer did not find the book supportive enough of his/her opinions of the war and he/she should stick to accounts of the war by partisans who parade as military historians/reporters such as Ollie North, and not a real non-fiction novel. A real telling of the war would have to include plenty of ammunition against the war, because after all, we do not live in a black and white world, and war is one hell of a policy. The best thing about this book is it's depiction of the soldiers who fight in it. You will not find more vivid and real characters. With those characters, tells the story of a new generation who bring new dimensions to the battlefield such as 'gameboys', rap music, and digital video cameras. MUST READ. I PROMISE.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Summary: Generation Kill is the book that came out of Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright being part one of the journalists embedded with U.S. troops during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was embedded with the First Recon Marines, a unit of soldiers that are among the best of the best - highly trained special ops forces. But what they're not trained to do is to drive unarmored Humvees in a slow, evenly spaced line through hostile territory, where it's frequently impossible to tell civilians from enemy soldiers. On top of this, the soldiers that Wright rode with also had to deal with a lack of proper supplies (most notably insufficient batteries for their night vision goggles and a lack of lubricant to keep their guns firing despite Iraqi dust and sandstorms), unreliable communications, and a command structure that seemed to be more intent on maintaining the grooming standard or scoring machismo points than on keeping their troops both safe and effective. Review: This is going to be one of those book reviews that shades into a movie review, despite my best efforts to keep them separate. In part, that's because the book and the film version are very, very similar, primarily due to the fact that the miniseries stays remarkably true to the book not only in story but also in terms of characterization, message, and general tone. In a lot of ways, they compliment each other, since the book can provide background details that can't be readily explained on film, and the film can provide visuals for those of us who don't have the military knowledge to be able to picture various types of weapons from their written description. But they're also both complete and perfectly understandable on their own.Together or apart, they paint a really compelling picture of the current state of warfare, and of the people and personalities involved. I'm not a current-events junkie by any stretch of the imagination, but I know well enough that Generation Kill gives a (literal) on-the-ground look at some of the reality of the Iraq war that gets lost in the translation to a 30-second news clip. It's easy to sit at home and bemoan the number of civilian casualties or the cost of the war, but this book makes you take a hard look at what it's like in the moment, in situations most of us could never imagine. I do wish Wright had given us a little bit more of his first-person outsider's POV, though. There were certainly touches of it, and I found them particularly fascinating (and often quite funny, for example the story of him running in a zig-zag pattern to avoid sniper fire, to the consternation and amusement of the soldiers he was with).What I appreciated most about Generation Kill was that it gives a very clear picture of the soldiers of the First Recon Marines as real people. They're obnoxious and crude and thoroughly un-PC, but there's a very clear sense that they are pretty much just regular guys, dealing with the situation and the constant danger and the lack of sleep and the surges of adrenaline and the randomness of war however they can. Wright doesn't do a whole lot of political analysis or authorial pontificating, for the most point preferring to let the story speak for itself, but his respect for the men he rode with (if not for their commanders) comes across loud and clear... and I think will be unavoidably contagious to his readers. 4.5 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: Hard to say, since I don't usually care for politics/current events/war books (Emergency Sex excepted), but I quite enjoyed this. Really, I'd recommend it for just about everyone who has an opinion of any kind about the war and/or wants an inside look into what the war was like for the men who actually fought it.
peleluna on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I so wanted to give this book four stars, but one slight typo (which I'm hoping has been fixed in later editions versus the library copy I read) marred it for me...Camp Lejeune (the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast) is located in North Carolina not South Carolina. While it may be a minor point, this error made me question the credibility of the writer and editor(s) because it made me wonder what other points may not have been checked. Of course, it happened early in the books so it nagged me for awhile...and for that, it lost a star. That being said, I realized halfway through why I was so engaged in this book that told the story from the perspective of those who often don't have the voice in writing their version of history...the enlisted personnel.... It's an anthropological work. At it's heart, cultural anthropology is the study of human beings in groups -- and the conflict resolution, social structure, behaviors, etc captured by Wright (the observer who had to gain the trust of the First Recon Marines to gain this invaluable perspective) does a tremendous job in capturing the unique culture of Recon Marines and the cross cut of individuals who compromise today's "volunteer" armed forces. In the era of CNN and "real time" images of air strikes it's easy to forget that the "job of war" still falls on those on the ground...and while the equipment has evolved, it's easy to forget how much the grunts on the ground handling the mortar rounds, rules of engagement, and mine fields operate in a unique sphere that is quite alien to the average civilian's perception of modern warfare. Wright earns my kudos for capturing the voices and the reality of these Marines. This is not an anti-war or a pro-war book. It is a snapshot. One person's account of the beginning of the war...when weapons of mass destruction were still thought to be a real possibility...when Iraq was thought to be a quick campaign.... And, for this reader, my eyes were opened a little wider than they already were to: the incompetencies at the top of the chain that hindered those carrying out orders at the bottom; the realities of what rules of engagement mean and what those who must carry out those rules must grapple with; the civilian toll that is often glossed over; and how much of modern warfare is still fought with mortar rounds versus air strikes. A final general observation -- I don't know what waivers and liabilities were involved with the publication of this book. I'm not sure who received pseudonyms under what agreements, but I find it a sad reflection that all of the enlisted men had their names used, in essence, standing by their actions while those junior officers whose actions were disconcerting at best, despicable at worse were given the virtue of anonymity. This gut-wrenching account of war and all its realities is a required read for those of us who observe war in the comfort of our living rooms -- it puts a face on modern warfare and a voice to the grunts who deserve their stories to be told, too.
kellanelizabeth on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This was a well-crafted, interesting and rare first-hand account of the war from a non-military perspective. Wright captures the spirit of First Recon's Marines without a political agenda, and he glorifies the men's hard work and brotherhood above all else.
brcloyd on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book was popular in my book club, and I can't argue that it was well written. However, the daily activities of our culture's warriors can be grim. While the MSM told the quick story of victory, the devastation on the human and ecological population was severe. War is an ugly brute experience and should be avoided at all costs.
mattbuis on LibraryThing 3 months ago
profane and vulgar, but very well written.
chicamimi on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I am the first to admit that I was biased as I loved the show. This also gave me a basic understanding of what I was going to be reading. However, I found the book was great on its own and provided even more information on the things these men dealt with on emotional and physical levels. I think if you want a look at the early days of the war in Iraq, this isn't such a bad basis - someone who was with the marines, but yet not bound/sharing their traditions.
Unkletom on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Having been a Navy corpsman serving with Marines during desert warfare exercises I can vouch for the accuracy of Wright's description of the men in First Recon even without having met them. Almost every Marine I ever met was described to a tee in this book, including Captain America, Encino Man and Casey Kasems. I never would have believed that people could be such `retards' had I not already met officers just like them. For the most part, though, they were men doing an extremely tough job to whom I would entrust my life.
bluejulie on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book had a strong impact on me in so many varied ways. It reads like a quick-paced thriller, a horror story, comedy, character drama and more, and all this while staying true to the facts of the first few weeks of the American invasion in Iraq in 2003.My first contact with Generation Kill was the TV series I came across while researching war for a piece I was writing. The series and book differ slightly, although the difference is more in the manner of presenting things than in the core story. The two different representations actually complement each other as the book offers more backstory and the benefit of hindsight, while the series more accurately depicts the chaos and how the marines were left in the dark about their missions almost to the very end. While this chaotic storytelling was brilliantly incorporated into the series, it certainly wouldn't work in the book so the narration being supported by maps and additional information was a good choice for it.What this book does so well is that Wright doesn't take sides (as much as that is humanly possible), he merely reports the goings-on around him as he travels with team one of 1st Recon second platoon. He's equally frank about the marines' having doubts when the ROE say that every human being is an enemy, as he is frank relating the darker, more disturbing traits of some of the men.Perhaps the only 'fault' of this book is that it's so well written, has such compelling characters and fast paced plot that sometimes, as readers, we forget that it's not fiction. Reading it as fiction would certainly take away form its value and importance.Worth re-reading.
jwalther on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The only book I've read that truly depicts the Military Machine, in all its personalities, screw ups, scenarios, and mentality. Wright did an amazing job reporting, even if he is from a extreme-leftist magazine.
ursula on LibraryThing 6 months ago
Though this one was published first, I read it after reading One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick. Wright was embedded with his platoon during the Iraq War, so it was interesting to get a different perspective on the same events (though Wright spent most of his time with a different team). It's definitely the outsider's perspective, and also somewhat sensationalistic. I got the sense that he needed an angle for the story overall and chose to focus on inept leadership and the crazy events the enlisted men were put into as a result. Very readable and interesting, but it wouldn't have inspired me to go read more on the topic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best written war novels I've read. The author wrote episodes from numerous different Marines . He pulled no punches and presented factually the terrible truth that many innocent civilians always get killed by well meaning soldiers.
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