Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom by LTG (Ret.) William G. Boykin and Lynn Vincent

Few people have been involved in as many significant US military operations over the past three decades as has LTG (ret.) William G. "Jerry" Boykin. From being a founding member of the Delta Force to commanding all US Army Special Forces he shows that a person can be a committed Christian and a soldier.

Co-written by New York Times best selling author Lynn Vincent, Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom gets your interest on page one and keeps it through the entire book. The book's structure helps with the presentation. It is divided in thirteen sections. Each section covers one of the stages of Jerry Boykin's life or a major US operation he was involved in. Each section is divided into short, action-packed chapters.

The book tells story after story of how famous military operations went down. The Iran Hostage Crisis, Sudan, Grenada, Panama, Waco and the Branch Davidians, Columbia, Somalia, the Balkans and more give great insight into contemporary US military history.

Jerry Boykin is a born-again Christian. The role of his faith is very tastefully woven into each story. You will not feel preached at, but rather have an appreciation of how his belief in God sustained and directed him through the years.

One of my favorite stories in the book involved Panama, the playing of loud, rock music and Manuel Noriega. The media thought the US Army was using the loud music as a psychological weapon against Noriega. The original intent of the music was to keep the media from being able to eavesdrop on the conversations between Boykin and the Vatican embassy where Noriega was hold-up.

The most insightful section was on Mogadishu, Somalia. It gives the real story that the movie Blackhawk Down omits. Boykin was the leader of the mission. He had to make the tough decision of leaving a man down in order to save others. He said that was the worst thing he has ever experienced.

Boykin has never been afraid to admit he is a Christian. Some things he said during the most recent war in Iraq upset people. He said that he believed God put George Bush in the White House. The news media quoted that statement. What the media didn't quote was that he continued by saying God put Bill Clinton and every other American leader in their positions. Boykin was pretty much beat up in the press over this. He was completely exonerated by internal military investigations.

I highly recommend the book. It provides fascinating insight into military tactics and life behind the scenes of Delta Force. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler, July 2008.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family by Martha Raddatz

Thousands of miles apart, the American soldiers serving in Baghdad and their families in Fort Hood, Texas awoke to what promised to be an ordinary Sunday: patrols or guard duty for some of the troops, and church services or brunch for some of the families, with the hope of emails or phone calls from overseas later in the evening.

By the end of that agonizing day, the distance between them would never feel greater.

Sadr City is a densely populated area of downtown Baghdad. In the eleven months following the invasion, it had seen comparatively little violence. However, on April 4th, 2004, a patrol from the 1st Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment was drawn into a violent ambush by followers of the influential Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and extraction attempts met with even stronger resistance. According to the ground commander, Gen. Pete Chiarelli, it was the day the war shifted "from a peacekeeping mission to a full-fledged fight against an insurgency."

The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family recounts every moment of that day on both sides of the world. Eight soldiers would lose their lives, along with 57 wounded. Martha Raddatz has traveled to Iraq sixteen times in the last five years, and her vivid, precise descriptions of the dense urban terrain – and the experiences of the soldiers within it – place the maelstrom of that day firmly within the realm of imagination. She also explores what it means to have a husband, wife, or child deployed in Iraq, as long-married couples and newlyweds alike endure the pain of absence, the small comforts of the Internet, and the knowledge that the worst possible news could arrive with a knock on the door.

Martha Raddatz is the chief White House correspondent for ABC News and is the network's former national security correspondent. She has won three Emmy awards for her coverage of national security and foreign policy issues, and appears regularly on "World News with Charles Gibson," "Nightline," and “Good Morning America”. In addition to her work for ABC News, she is a frequent guest on PBS's "Washington Week", "Charlie Rose", and "Larry King Live".

http://www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org/events/2008-06-24-martha_raddatz.jsp