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Essential Reading: Understanding 21st Century Warfare,
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This review is from: Black Hearts: One platoon's descent into madness in Iraq's triangle of death (Paperback)
Unfortunately, I must start on a negative note.
This book is presented to the public by the publisher, certainly in its paperback form, as some sort of roller-coaster thriller which happens to be a true story. If you are, in fact, looking for some sort of first-hand true account of non-stop action I recommend Dan Mills' Sniper One. With the publisher using phrases on the cover such as 'descent into madness' and words like 'climax', 'intense' and 'fast-paced' the casual observer might even pick this book up believing it to be fiction, and if that is what they are looking for I recommend they watch Apocalypse Now or read Conrad's Heart of Darkness; better still do both.
Now, onto what this book is really about.
This is a detailed investigation of a single atrocity and the events and circumstances leading up to and surrounding the soldiers and battalion involved. It is presented in the very best of journalistic tradition - at times one can sense the author's struggle to not pass any personal judgement - and is exceptionally detailed, revealing and sympathetic. You can read other reviews for information regarding this event.
What I will add is that I believe this book to be essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the stresses and strains placed on the modern 'western' soldier, especially in the US forces where tours of duty are much too long and often enforced second or even third tours. Beyond that, it is equally useful reading for any student of psychology and even students of organizational theory and ledership. In fact, I would warn any reader who is not au fait with terms such as 'The Pygmalion Effect' that they ensure they have psychiatric reference sources available to them during reading.
With due deference to the appalling subject matter, especially to those directly involved on both sides and generally to anyone who esteems NATO's armed forces, this book is an exciting recounting of a company's deployment in the most extreme of circumstances, terifically well researched, edited and presented and deeply, deeply disturbing. Excellent.