War has many fronts, many of which are not on the battlefield. ABC News journalist Martha Raddatz has spent several years both in Washington as the network's chief White House correspondent and on the ground in Iraq. In The Road Home, her first book, she follows the troops of the 1st Cavalry Division as they head off on their Sadr City patrols, then picks up the stories of the mothers, spouses, and families they left behind. This first-person, split-screen approach reveals the full experience of war more realistically than either a combat narrative or a home-front memoir. Vivid; personal; timely.
… Martha Raddatz's The Long Road Home is a masterpiece of literary nonfiction that rivals any war-related classic that has preceded it … this is a book that will last, and it will do so for the same reason that any great work endures -- because, through the strength and grace of its prose, it pulls us into a world that is simultaneously foreign and familiar and makes us care about the individuals who inhabit this place long after we have closed the covers. And because, one by one, we will pass the book along to others with the only words of praise that really matter: "Here, you've got to read this."
The Washington Post
Extraordinary...an important and profoundly moving story....Raddatz is a top-notch reporter and a masterful storyteller.
A poignant piece of work that will grab and hold you....Raddatz writes for women as well as for men... lets people tell their stories in their own words, from the choked-up phrases of the wives to the F-bombs dropped so promiscuously by the soldiers. Her dialogue just smells like cordite in combat.
Ms. Raddatz conveys who these men were (one was Specialist Casey Sheehan, whose mother, Cindy, would later become such a visible opponent of the war) and what their hellish experience was like. Her account has grit and high drama.
The New York Times
Violent resistance in post-invasion Iraq kicked into high gear on April 4, 2004, when American troops in Sadr City faced a massive assault that claimed eight soldiers' lives and wounded more than 70 others. Raddatz, an Emmy-winning correspondent for ABC News, clearly aims to equal the storytelling in Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Downin her account of the battle, and hits the mark with distinction. Extensive interviews with the commanding officers of the army's 1st Cavalry division and the soldiers pinned down in the streets provide a clear narrative of how U.S. troops, prepared for "a babysitting mission," found themselves in a bloodbath, as efforts to rescue the first soldiers fired upon met with even greater resistance from Mahdi militiamen who did not hesitate to use small children as frontline attackers. Heroic moments abound, like Casey Sheehan's volunteering to take another man's place on the rescue team, which resulted in his death. Raddatz touches upon the reaction of his mother, noted antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, but this is just one of many perspectives from families on the home front. The gripping account eschews politics and focuses squarely on the soldiers and their sacrifices. (Mar. 1)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Many mark April 4, 2004, as the beginning of the full-fledged Iraq insurgency. On that day, a platoon of U.S. soldiers engaged in helping the part of Baghdad called Sadr City deal with horrible sanitation problems and found themselves attacked by hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the Mahdi Militia, a creation of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The first thing the soldiers noticed was an eerie absence of people on the street. Then they began to take withering fire from rooftops, windows, and doors-seemingly from everywhere. The platoon, as it sought its way out, found that the streets were strewn with all variety of junk meant to impede their escape. The irony of the battle sank deep into the minds of the soldiers, who viewed themselves as helpers of the populace, not their enemy, and who had liberated these same Shi'ites from Saddam Hussein. As the day dragged on, the Americans were appalled when organized mobs of women and children marched down the alley from both directions, camouflaging rank upon rank of militiamen. The soldiers had no choice but to fire into the crowds. Hundreds of Iraqis died, as did eight Americans, including Casey Sheehan, whose mother, Cindy, has become one of the most prominent antiwar activists. Raddatz, a well-known journalist and an award-winning correspondent for ABC News, interweaves battle vignettes with vividly written descriptions of the people on the home front-wives, children, mothers and fathers, and fellow soldiers. The author's declarative and journalistic writing style brings a blunt, matter-of-fact passion to the descriptions of the soldiers and their families. This book is a triumph of description and horror; Raddatz studiouslyavoids any political carping, letting the events tell their own story, however one wants to interpret them. Narrator Joyce Bean is skilled and effective as well; she uses subtle changes in accent and tone to individualize the personalities as they stride across the audio landscape. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
The personal stories of U.S. soldiers caught in a deadly 2004 ambush in Sadr City that the author believes marked a turning point, when the war's mission shifted from peacekeeping and nation-building to battling an insurgency. ABC News Chief White House correspondent Raddatz, who has reported frequently from Iraq, displays a compassionate heart in her first book, which is also notable for its cinematic narrative structure. Chapters are short and focused. The author whisks us rapidly from Iraq to Texas to Alabama and frequently shifts her lens from the killing zone to the home front and back. Raddatz is comfortable writing about high-tech weapons and the intricacies of urban warfare. She doesn't shy away from gore, either: After a battle, soldiers clean from vehicles the remains of their comrades' brains, "soft and slippery and horrifying." She was able to coax intimate revelations from combatants, their officers, their families; she makes use of this material in italicized passages that voice the players' thoughts. Raddatz's principal interest is in the human beings caught up in the war. She tells their backstories, describes their experiences in high school, their marriages, their parents. She shows us what the wives were doing back at Fort Hood, reveals how some of them received the awful news that a husband had fallen. Her message appears to be that we are asking some sweet young people to do some awful things. Two-thirds of the way through, a surprise-the story of the death of Casey Sheehan, son of antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan. A horrifying story, clearly told, though some readers may regret that the author stays so far in the background that she is nearly invisible.
Praise for The Long Road Home
“The word ‘sacrifice’ is used a lot. In The Long Road Home, Martha Raddatz shows what the word really means...Read it.”—Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco
“Grit and high drama...searingly vivid evidence of the toll U.S. soldiers pay.”—The New York Times
“A picture of American valor and unflagging commitment.”—Rocky Mountain News
“A poignant piece of work that will grab and hold you.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“[This] nervy, brilliantly reported book tells the human stories that ricocheted out from one long, brutal firefight.”—The Star Tribune
“A truly great book about men, women, and raw courage.”—Diane Sawyer, ABC News
“Raddatz’s powerful book introduces us to people we root for, and care about, and won’t soon forget.”—Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away
“An unforgettable and entirely new portrait of the American family at war.”—Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill
“[A] fast-paced narrative of how some of these soldiers struggled to survive when their routine patrol of a Baghdad slum went terribly wrong, forever changing the lives of those involved and signaling a new phase in the violent resistance to U.S. occupation of Iraq.”—Los Angeles Times
“Might well be the Black Hawk Down of the Iraq war.”—The Washington Post
“A thoroughly gripping read...There is something very special about membership in the ‘brotherhood of the close fight,’ and The Long Road Home establishes clearly that those who fought on ‘black Sunday’ earned a cherished place in that elite fraternity.”—General David Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq