On Monday, USA Today reported that "more than 300 books have been published about the [second Iraq] conflict," but named only seven of them.  --  Two of those seven have been featured in "Digging Deeper," the UFPPC book discussion series (Evan Wright's Generation Kill and Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack)....


By Carol Memmott

USA Today
March 21, 2005


The ground war in Iraq began two years ago today, and since then more than 300 books have been published about the conflict. Only a handful have found commercial success, but Iraq will be a topic hashed out on bookshelves for years, if not decades, to come.

No Iraq book so far could be called a definitive account, and that's to be expected, industry insiders say.

What readers are seeing now are journalistic accounts, says Barbara Hoffert of Library Journal. "They are describing events, and it's almost unfair to compare them to a reflective book that someone could write 20 years from now. They're different kinds of beasts." (The best perspective on the Vietnam War, she points out, did not come out until 1989, the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan.)

Few first-person accounts by combatants have been published. One that could break out, says Tom Nissley of Amazon.com, is the just-published Back in Action by David Rozelle (Regnery, $27.95), who tells of returning to Iraq after losing his right foot to an anti-tank mine.

Joel Turnipseed, whose 2003 Baghdad Express was praised for its lively retelling of his experiences in the first Iraq war, knows from personal experience why soldiers haven't rushed to tell personal stories. Lengthy introspection is essential, he says. He spent years writing Express and says so did former Marine sniper Anthony Swofford, who wrote 2003's best-selling Jarhead, also based on the first Iraq war. Fighters in the current Iraq war, Turnipseed says, are not yet "in a frame of mind to be that reflective about their experiences."

Successful Iraq books so far have been "breaking news themselves," Nissley says. He cites Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib by Seymour Hersh and Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward.

Also doing well: human-interest stories by third parties (Rick Bragg's 2003 I'm a Soldier, Too, about rescued POW Jessica Lynch) and books by reporters covering the conflict (Generation Kill by Evan Wright, a Rolling Stone contributing editor). Among similar new and upcoming offerings:

• Shane Comes Home by Rinker Buck (William Morrow, $25.95), the story of Marine Lt. Shane Childers, the first U.S. military casualty in Iraq, and his family in Powell, Wyo.

• McCoy's Marines: Darkside to Baghdad by John Koopman (Zenith, $24.95), a San Francisco Chronicle reporter embedded with the Marine regimen famous for pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein.

• The Gift of Valor (Broadway, $19.95, due in May) by Michael M. Phillips, which recounts the story of Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who took the brunt of a grenade blast in an attempt to save his fellow Marines.