The Best Defense

Final results: Ten worst Iraq war memoirs

On the basis of reader responses to my partial list, plus a bunch of e-mails from less brave people who wouldn't post, here is a compilation the 10 worst books written about the Iraq war. (Note to friend in the hills of eastern Afghanistan: What are they gonna do to you, cut off your hair and send you to the hills of eastern Afghanistan?)

Three commonalities strike me about these books. Almost all are by senior officers or officials, almost all have co-authors, and almost all have lousy titles. Only one journalist made the list: Michael Hastings. That's right-General McChrystal's Rolling Stone pal.

Regular readers of this blog know that I've been immersed in World War II memoirs and histories for several months. For whatever reason, they tend to be much better, even when from generals. Slim, Eisenhower and Gavin all produced very interesting books, while the only real stinker I've read so far is Mark Clark's. 

And now, the full list of Iraq war losers, beginning with the worst of the worst:

1. Tommy R. Franks: American Soldier
2. L. Paul Bremer III:
My Year in Iraq
3. Ricardo Sanchez:
Wiser in Battle
4. Janis Karpinksi:
One Woman's Army
5. Douglas Feith:
War and Decision
Richard Myers: Eyes on the Horizon
Mike DeLong: Inside Centcom
8. Nathan Sassaman:
Warrior King
9. Michael Hastings
: I Lost My Love in Baghdad
Midge Decter: Rumsfeld (likely to be replaced by the man's own book)

Now where do I go to get my wasted time back?


The Best Defense

Taking care of soldiers: A father's view

I wonder if this is what happens when one percent of society carries 99 percent of the burden of war.

"I appreciate your comments about the need to take care of our soldiers. My son, David, left the army in February, having served two tours in Iraq in the 1-18  and 1-2 Infantry.  He was severely wounded by an IED on his first deployment, in Baghdad in 2006.  He was a sergeant on his second tour in Diyala Province.

Before his second deployment, my son married his German girlfriend, Sabrina Lang. They had been together since early in 2006, and she and her family had been instrumental in nursing him back to health after his wounding at the end of that year.  David has now been accepted to Ohio State and has just moved to Columbus to begin school in the fall.

Without going into great detail, the State Department has been entirely unhelpful, indeed almost obstructive, in terms of Sabrina's getting into the country to be with David. I have agreed to co-sign for her, but the consul in Frankfurt muddled the paperwork, delaying her acceptance for weeks before finally accepting it.  Now an unnamed consular official has decreed that Sabrina's medical work is incomplete, and has again delayed her visa application.

Contrasted with what David went through in the army, this is not such a major issue.  Sabrina will eventually get her visa, but only after needless delays. My major concern for my son is that he is now alone in Columbus, his wife unable to join him for an undetermined time.  He has been diagnosed, unsurprisingly, with PTSD, and my wife and I worry about the possible consequences of his sitting in his apartment with nothing to do. This could easily have been prevented had anyone at the Consulate in Frankfurt taken an interest in helping an American veteran get resettled in our civilian society. None did so.

We had planned a welcome ceremony for David and Sabrina this weekend. About 75 people will attend. With Sabrina absent, they and a widening circle of their friends will conclude to varying degrees that the American government is callous, incompetent, and unconcerned for those who do its fighting. I fear they are correct.

Jim Warnock

U.S. Army