Drowning in the Desert: A JAG’s Search for Justice in Iraq

Vivian H. Gembara, Author, Deborah A. Gembara, Author . Zenith $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7603-3448-5

This is a disturbing collection of experiences of a judge advocate general officer, a lawyer for an army brigade fighting the insurgency from 2003 to 2004. Undergoing modest risks—the occasional mortar attack, ambush danger in traveling the roads—Capt. Vivian Gembara endured as much physical discomfort as the fighting men plus long working hours because of chronic understaffing. The pace never flags as Gembara describes struggling to solve soldiers’ personal problems; dealing with the cliques, rivalries, and petty politics of rear area service; and trying (often in vain) to ensure troops observed the official Rules of Engagement and Geneva Conventions. When soldiers were accused of deserting, officers leaned over backward to see justice done. When other soldiers murdered several innocent Iraqis, she discovered that the soldiers, who said they were “following orders,” were terrified of a sadistic sergeant. The author succeeded only partially in prosecuting the murders, and the extensive coverup occupies the second half of the book. “I will always be disappointed by my chain-of-command’s cowardly handling of the murders,” Gembara writes in this straightforward, honest account, and many readers will share her outrage. Maps. (Oct. 15)

Reviewed on: 08/25/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Open Ebook - 329 pages - 978-1-61060-020-0
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