Original Title: Generation Kill
Year Published: 2008
Published by: Berkley
Number of Pages: 370
First Sentence: “It’s another Iraqi town, nameless to the Marines racing down the main drag in Humvees, blowing it to pieces.“
Goodreads Rating: 5/5
They were called a generation without heroes. Then they were called upon to be heroes. Within hours of 9/11, America’s war on terrorism fell to those like the twenty-three Marines of the First Recon Battalion, the first generation dispatched into open-ended combat since Vietnam. They were a new pop-culture breed of American warrior unrecognizable to their forebears—soldiers raised on hip hop, video games and The Real World. Cocky, brave, headstrong, wary and mostly unprepared for the physical, emotional and moral horrors ahead, the “First Suicide Battalion” would spearhead the blitzkrieg on Iraq, and fight against the hardest resistance Saddam had to offer.Now a major HBO event, Generation Kill is the national bestselling book based on the National Magazine Award-winning story in Rolling Stone. It is the funny, frightening, and profane firsthand account of these remarkable men, of the personal toll of victory, and of the randomness, brutality and camaraderie of a new American War.
This is such an important book and ought to be a requirement in schools when discussing the Iraqi war. I’m well aware of the fact that war is not pretty, but this really opened my eyes to how awful it really is and why we should not put the blame on the individual soldier. Nobody wins in a war, nobody comes out of it truly victorious.
This book is not trying to glamorise war nor justify it. It is a thorough documentation of the realities of war. Sure, we only get to read the American side of it, but that side is not pretty either. Commanders that have no idea how war works in reality, only on paper, horrible conditions, insufficient gear and then the realisation that killing people is not noble nor heroic. We get to see it all. It will floor you.
It was hard to read though since my brain kept on trying to tell me that it was fiction, that I was reading about made up characters. However, when the logical part won over my brain and the realisation that this story is real, it actually happened, hit me I had to put the book down and take a breather. We want to think of soldiers as inhuman, superheroes, men who aren’t wired the way that the rest of us are. This book shows us that this isn’t the case. The Iceman has emotions, all men in the American military have emotions and what they do is not easy. Can it always be justified? No. But that does not mean that it is easy for them, nor that they are monsters. They are human beings, doing something they believe in.
In the First Recon Battalion, we meet a group of people that are a mix of endearing and borderline psychotic. There are some that you will relate to and some that will terrify you. Wright mixes his observations with his personal thoughts and feelings. It is a great account of the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom (a name that the boys in Bravo scoffs at) and should be read by all.
Do I recommend it?
God yes. Go read. Or watch the HBO mini-series.