Good soldiers and good reporters are made under fire when an honesty of action and of words are fused. We can learn from such fusion. David Finkel began his recording of the 2-16 battalion, the Second Battalion, Sixteenth Infantry Regiment of the Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, nicknamed The Rangers, in January 2007 and finished in June 2008. He spent eight months with the 2-16 in Iraq, through blood, sweat, shit, dust, fear, bravery, breakdown, dismemberment, and death. To his honor he reported only what he saw without padding, politics, or soapbox. His The Good Soldiers is a tough emotional read but felt good to be trusted with an account the soldiers would respect.
The officers and soldiers on the ground in Iraq did not lose the war. They fought and were maimed, broken, and died because they did their job well. The disjointure between action on the ground and policy in Washington falls to the blame of the political leadership who understood nothing before and during. Each chapter is prefaced by a timely and relevant quote from President Bush, but the Bush quotes could just as easily been paired with any number of statements made by administrative appointees and Congressional leaders. We suffered a massive collapse of leadership at home; however, the 2-16 in Iraq did the suffering and then the suffering came home to their families.
Don’t read the book if you can’t stand the heat. Don’t read the book if you think there are excuses for Washington. Charles Marlin