House to House: An Epic Memoir of War (a brief review)

| September 10, 2007

I just finished reading House to House: An Epic Memoir of War by SSG David Bellavia (with John R. Bruning). Bellavia took part in the US battle for Fallujah (Iraq) in November 2004; his squad was one of the first to enter the city, in which insurgents had spent months entrenching themselves and booby-trapping much of the city. Bellavia has penned here a brutal, honest chronicle of the block-to-block, building-to-building, and room-to-room battle that ensued at great cost for all involved.

I wept from time to time at what these men endured and at what they risked for one another:

Fallujah

November 10, 2004

Long before sunrise, we begin our third day in the city. As it got cold last night, the men tore down drapes and used them as blankets. Others wrapped themselves up like burritos in filthy area rugs. We passed the night on guard, shivering, anxious, and irritated.

I grab my gear and head out onto the roof to check on things. Two days into the battle, and already our boys are banged up. Gashes adorn every face. Our hands are skinned raw from climbing through the debris of all these ruined buildings. Between the putrefying corpses, the flies, and feral dogs, Fallujah teams with gut-liquefying bacteria. We can’t avoid the germs and the majority of the platoon has diarrhea. There were times yesterday that men were shitting while they shot. We’re filthy, bone-weary, brusied, and bleeding. Our joints ache, our muscles protest every move….

Just before dawn, the entire company gets on line and begins the drive north into yesterday’s stomping grounds. The cold night has left the streets slick with moisture. We slip and slide in our boots as we make our way up the street towards Objective Wolf again. As we countermarch with our Brads and tanks in support, I notice that the dogs follow behind us. When we stop to search a house, they stop as well. I emerge from one building and see a line of them in the street, their tails thumping expectantly on the asphalt. They’re waiting for us to provide them with their next meal….

Throughout the morning, we kick in so many doors that we lose count. Unlike the previous day, we take a deliberate approach to each dwelling. We assume they are all booby-trapped. We move with caution and do not touch anything unnecessarily. It doesn’t take us long to find all sorts of devilish traps: bras and panties covering booby-trapped hand grenades, cabinets wired with explosives, mortar rounds underneath sinks, land mines buried in front and backyards. We negotiate all these hazards and find hundreds of weapons in the process. Everything from World War II American M1 Garand rifles to the latest production SVD sniper rifles straight from Russian factories are left for us to find. We even discover an American Army filed manual from 1941 with Arabic notes written in the margin.

As I stated in my review on Amazon.com, this book should be required reading for every high school student, for every Member of Congress, for every would-be Presidential candidate, and for every military person above the rank of Lieutenant.

You should read it, too. ..bruce..

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Category: 2008 Election, Books, Geopolitics, Main, Military, Reviews

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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