Martha Raddatz is the Chief Global Affairs Correspondent for ABC News and the co-anchor of This Week with George Stephanopoulos. She has covered national security, foreign policy and politics for decades--reporting from the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and conflict zones around the world.
Violent resistance in post-invasion Iraq kicked into high gear on April 4, 2004, when American troops in Sadr City faced a massive assault that claimed eight soldiers' lives and wounded more than 70 others. Raddatz, an Emmy-winning correspondent for ABC News, clearly aims to equal the storytelling in Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down in her account of the battle, and hits the mark with distinction. Extensive interviews with the commanding officers of the army's 1st Cavalry division and the soldiers pinned down in the streets provide a clear narrative of how U.S. troops, prepared for "a babysitting mission," found themselves in a bloodbath, as efforts to rescue the first soldiers fired upon met with even greater resistance from Mahdi militiamen who did not hesitate to use small children as frontline attackers. Heroic moments abound, like Casey Sheehan's volunteering to take another man's place on the rescue team, which resulted in his death. Raddatz touches upon the reaction of his mother, noted antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, but this is just one of many perspectives from families on the home front. The gripping account eschews politics and focuses squarely on the soldiers and their sacrifices. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Many mark April 4, 2004, as the beginning of the full-fledged Iraq insurgency. On that day, a platoon of U.S. soldiers engaged in helping the part of Baghdad called Sadr City deal with horrible sanitation problems and found themselves attacked by hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the Mahdi Militia, a creation of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The first thing the soldiers noticed was an eerie absence of people on the street. Then they began to take withering fire from rooftops, windows, and doors-seemingly from everywhere. The platoon, as it sought its way out, found that the streets were strewn with all variety of junk meant to impede their escape. The irony of the battle sank deep into the minds of the soldiers, who viewed themselves as helpers of the populace, not their enemy, and who had liberated these same Shi'ites from Saddam Hussein. As the day dragged on, the Americans were appalled when organized mobs of women and children marched down the alley from both directions, camouflaging rank upon rank of militiamen. The soldiers had no choice but to fire into the crowds. Hundreds of Iraqis died, as did eight Americans, including Casey Sheehan, whose mother, Cindy, has become one of the most prominent antiwar activists. Raddatz, a well-known journalist and an award-winning correspondent for ABC News, interweaves battle vignettes with vividly written descriptions of the people on the home front-wives, children, mothers and fathers, and fellow soldiers. The author's declarative and journalistic writing style brings a blunt, matter-of-fact passion to the descriptions of the soldiers and their families. This book is a triumph of description and horror; Raddatz studiously avoids any political carping, letting the events tell their own story, however one wants to interpret them. Narrator Joyce Bean is skilled and effective as well; she uses subtle changes in accent and tone to individualize the personalities as they stride across the audio landscape. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Don Wismer, Cary Memorial Lib., Wayne, ME Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Praise for The Long Road Home
"The word 'sacrifice' is used a lot. In The Long Road Home, Martha Raddatz shows what the word really means...Read it."--Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco
"Grit and high drama...searingly vivid evidence of the toll U.S. soldiers pay."--The New York Times
"A picture of American valor and unflagging commitment."--Rocky Mountain News
"A poignant piece of work that will grab and hold you."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"[This] nervy, brilliantly reported book tells the human stories that ricocheted out from one long, brutal firefight."--The Star Tribune
"A truly great book about men, women, and raw courage."--Diane Sawyer, ABC News
"Raddatz's powerful book introduces us to people we root for, and care about, and won't soon forget."--Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away
"An unforgettable and entirely new portrait of the American family at war."--Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill
"[A] fast-paced narrative of how some of these soldiers struggled to survive when their routine patrol of a Baghdad slum went terribly wrong, forever changing the lives of those involved and signaling a new phase in the violent resistance to U.S. occupation of Iraq."--Los Angeles Times
"Might well be the Black Hawk Down of the Iraq war."--The Washington Post
"A thoroughly gripping read...There is something very special about membership in the 'brotherhood of the close fight, ' and The Long Road Home establishes clearly that those who fought on 'black Sunday' earned a cherished place in that elite fraternity."--General David Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq