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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 4 January 2008
I've read quite a few accounts be soldiers of life in war zones, including Somalia, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and WWII Europe. This account of fighting with the infantry in the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, is not the deepest philosophically, but definitely the most gripping in the intimacy and detail of its description of the action.

We don't hear much about the motivation of the soldiers involved on either side or how the invasion of Falujah came to be deemed necessary in the first place. we are left in no doubt though that once the battle was joined it was bloody and intense.

Combat is described in frank and sometimes gory detail. Many war authors are content to tell us simply that the enemy was killed. Bellavia tells us exactly how they were killed, whether they screamed or cried, were disintegrated by an explosion, or eaten by dogs once they were dead. Not for the faint hearted.

The lack of background and concentration on the specifics of violence does not make this a shallow story. I found myself caring more even for the insurgents that are killed than for any other opposing forces I have read about. And even though we don't learn much about the US soldiers fighting their way around the city, their lives in the US before or after the war, it is still heart-breaking to hear about them being wounded or killed. It has the attention to detail of Black Hawk Down but a much faster pace.

It also makes it clearer why the insurgency against allied forces in Iraq has only gathered pace in the intervening years. Fallujah was not an isolated incident of a few dozen men fighting each other. It was a full scale obliteration of an entire city, leaving a mark on the country and the minds and bodies of those involved that will never heal. Some of the men in Bellavia's platoon were 19 when they went to Fallujah. how do you live the rest of your life in peace when you've shot someone, seen them run over by an armoured vehicle, and then seen dogs licking their blood from the tank's tracks? Or fought your way through a house single-handed, bludgeoning a man to death with your helmet and then stabbing him to death with your pocket knife?

An amazing story I found impossible to put down once the action began.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2010
I think this is a great book. I also found it very moving. It is not pretentious; nor does the author claim to offer any great insight into the nature of the battle other than through his direct, brutal, uncomfortable honesty. That honesty packs one heck of a punch.

What the book made clear to me is that no amount of smart weapons / firepower replaces the ultimate, (and for me at least) horrific, fact that this often boiled down to man versus man. It is indisputable that the Americans had overwhelming firepower, technology and manpower but this book makes clear that facets of this battle came down to soldiers' bravery (on both sides). It left me very reflective.

It also conveys the ferocity, barbarity and disjointed nature of modern war fighting as well as the ridiculous BS these teeth-arm troops face even within their own army. His email address had me chuckling. The book also has a total lack of: 'I joined the army went here, here and here and then did this that and the next thing'. That is not a criticism of those kind of army life story books it is just refreshing to see one that deals almost totally with a concentrated period rather than that period being the 'highlight' of the book. Here the battle and its aftermath really is the book.

This would be a great book for those who believe war sterile and for those who look at the decisions made in those wars from their armchairs and believe those men and women on the ground should have done better.

Thoroughly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2010
I have read quite a few modern warfare books and this one must be in the top five, alongside Generation Kill, Sniper One, Black Hawk Down and The Circuit. What this book brings to the reader is a story that is absorbing and intense from the start and even more so at the end. There are hardly any dry parts with the usual background history of the author or his soldiers, nor any over detailed strategy plans and politics. Instead it's all raw and heart felt action that leaves you feeling at the end as emotionally drained and dirty as they do after their intense fighting in a foreign and hostile country. Highly recommended - It's a fast paced book that you will devour in a couple of days.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2008
This book deals almost in it's entirety with SSgt Bellavia part in the US lead assault on the rebel held Iraq city of Fallujah. What a synopsis cannot hope to express is the reality of urban warfare that Bellavia and his platoon underwent during the army's 20 days of fighting. The authors portrait of the grime & dirt of war, which would be familiar to soldiers of any age, and the effect of modern weaponry has on the friable human body is deft and at times brutal. The book does not delve into the reasons for the conflict , though the authors express a clear moral, rather Manichean, world view of them being the "irreverent revenant" vs. the terrorists. What clearly strikes a reader is the intense and moving bond that is cemented in SSgt Bellavia squad when facing life threatening situations and how courage under fire was expressed. This would be a good companion to Keenan's "The Face of battle". My minor quibble would be that the civilian population's plight is barely mentioned. Recommended reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2010
I have not finished this great book on modern warfare but i must(for the first time)write a review.5 stars as i have been reading military books since the early 70s and this is one of the best.I'm more interested in WW2 but bought this new from a cheap bookshop in town.I've just recently got into modern combat with our boys in Afghanistan on the news most nights.Well worth the time and money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2008
I have read many books on war and find that they are either written for a historian who wants facts and figures or they are written for the enthusiast who wants blood and guts. This, definately falls into the latter catergory. I admire these men and their story has to be told. So many books have been written from ww1 to present day giving us all a meaning to the true horror of war. No lessons are learned and so it will continue into the next decade and probably the next century.
David Bellavia's account is the best so far to come out of America but falls short of Danny Mills' sniper one.
maybe Americans prefer the gung ho shoot em ups to the less dramatic english approach. Even so it remains a truly gritty account of a nasty war in a very bad place and these boys deserve our support.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2009
I'd seen the author of this book on Andy McNab's show and I thought what he did was insane, so I decided to buy his book. From page 1 you don't want to put this book down. The combat in this book is described really well, properly the best i've ever read. You just don't want to put this book down. I've read a lot of army/war books and this is one the best. Possibly on par with Danny Mills Sniper One, maybe better. So if you like lots of blood, gore and war this book is highly recommended. Really can't sum up how amazing this book really is. Really shows the gritty side of close combat, espically in Fallujah. Fantastic reading!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2007
After many years reading of war and men at war David Bellavias book rocked me on my heels.I cannot recall ever reading a more vivid account of a man in action. David had me bracing as he led his team into the chaos of close combat warfare and feeling just a small flavour of the stress of soldiers in such a hot house environment as Fallujah. His description of how the most techically advanced war machine still ends up needing two men to fight to the death with fists and teeth in pitch darkness is almost surreal, but it actually happened.
Action aside, the insights David gave into how men face such horror, what keeps them driving forward when every atom of sense says run in the opposite direction and what motivates men in combat at all were an enlightenment it was a privelige to share. I read the book in three sittings over Christmas holiday. I will be rereading it soon and I imagine I will return to it in the years ahead. There is much public talk of the sacrifices made by our fighting men and women: David certainly portrays the vivid physical side to this statement but I find his work unique in giving me the understanding of the real sacrifice made so consciously by these brave men and women - they feel that they have surrendered up a significant piece of their conscious humanity, sometimes to the extent that they almost feel they have compromised their immortal soul to get the job done and to bring themselves and their troops home alive. Other than the ultimate sacrifice,or the dreadful wounds some have to bear, this is surely one of the most horrific prices for our young people to pay ? I do not know, my understanding is insufficient to embrace the horror of what David and those like him have seen and had to do - thank heavens. When I now hear of their sacrifice however, it will be my understanding as informed by the words of David Bellavia, in which I frame my own thoughts and feelings.
The insight David Bellavia gives in House to House is of fundamental importance to the understanding of modern warfare and to the price our young people have to pay.If he is able, David must write more on the subject.
For me, House to House is one of the classics of modern warfare literature.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2009
This book has to be one of the best books i have read on the war in Iraq the stlye of writing makes you almost believe your there with the author as he and his fellow soldiers fight there way through a maze of alleys and booby trapped houses. Unlike other books the author doesn't attempt to preach about the war he justs tells it as he and his men saw, smelt and experienced it. By the end of this book i felt slightly humbled by it but also more informed this IS how it was and more than likely still is for the men and women serving in iraq and afghanistan it is simply a must read book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This high-octane war memoir, is a fast paced and exciting. Its pages are unflinching in their graphic description of war and not for those with a weak stomach.

It differs in many ways to the many memoirs I've read, penned by UK soldiers, obviously because its written by an American, but also because it deals with a microcosm of the war during a single operation.

Whereas most ware memoirs written by ex-servicemen tend to cover their whole tours, House to House follows the author and his squad during a single objective: clearing the city of Fallujah. This makes it a fast, frenetic and riveting read.

The writing style to seem very catered for the American attention span. It's relentless action with bullets flying on every page and hard fought battles in every chapter - it almost feels like a Hollywood Movie, which makes it a real page turner.

It also highlight the differences (and similarities) between how the British and American troops operate in theatre and how they see the war; with the Americans here being very Gung-Ho and often seeming blasé. True, you do get desensitised to a certain extent, but these guys seem to revel in the gore and gruesome nature of war.

However, the only thing I am here to judge is the book, and for me I found it an enthralling read. I couldn't put it down and I loved the fact that it catered for a nation with a short attention span. Because it made the urgency of the situations these boys were in all the more palpable.

This is an adrenaline-pumping, action-packed page turner which will have you on the edge of your seat. You may recoil at some of the scenes and graphic descriptions in its pages, and wonder how these men can behave in such a manner - but one thing's for sure, whether or not you agree with their methods, this book is one hell of a ride.

It culminates in a very bloody hand-to-hand fight for survival where both teeth and knives are used to devastating effect, and I, for one, have never read a more realistic account of a man fighting for his life in CQB (Close Quarter Battle) against and equally determined enemy.

The final set piece is so full of tension it will have your stomach in a knot. You'll feel like your on the ground, in the room fighting alongside the author and, throughout my time reading this, I was thinking, what an amazing film this would make - it's Black Hawk Down multiplied by 100.

During his 6 years in the army, the author, David Bellavia, saw some of the most intense and ferocious fighting of the Iraq war, which is recounted for you here in the pages of his books. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for his actions and was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honour for his actions in Fallujah. In 2005 he received New York State's highest award for military valour, the Conspicuous Service Cross, and was inducted into the Veterans' Hall of Fame... once you've read this book its easy to see why.
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