Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Read: "House to House" by David Bellavia

Read: House to House: an epic memoir of war by David Bellavia, 2007, 9781416574712.

Good book. Decently written and earnest in tone and telling. This is the second Fallujah book I've read, On Call in Hell was the first.

In the Author's Note Bellavia writes that he "faithfully retold" everything that happened and that "conversations presented in dialogue form have been re-created from my memory of them but are not intended to represent a word-for-word documentation: rather, they are intended to invoke the essence of what was said." As I was reading I was wondering if he was writing the truth and not exaggerating or making things up. I decided to believe him until I hear otherwise. I saw him speak on C-SPAN about some of the things covered in the book and believed him. Of course as a former theatre major he is also a trained actor.

Bellavia was an Army Staff Sergeant for the 1st Division during the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004. His Bradley-riding infantry unit joined the Marines in attacking the city. Bellavia does real well in describing the physical hardships of constant battle, disease, fatigue, destroyed buildings, the risks of the rubble, and the resultant injuries all those things gave the soldiers. He explains some tactics and maneuvers that were a mystery to me.

Bellavia's love for his fellow soldiers and his intense pride as a infantry sergeant are constant themes. The group dynamics of the squads and the different leadership styles and personalities of the NCOs and officers is very interesting. Bellavia's dual fear and admiration for his Command Sergeant Major was neat to read about.

1-Resupplying ammunition must be a constant task - those dudes were ripping through ammo belts on their SAWs and 240s.
2- Why the hell, by that far into the war, did it take so long for the Army to got optics, lasers, and night vision to combat troops? Bellavia had to trade around and borrow to get things.
3- The Chaplain was a good dude.

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