cover image Walk in My Combat Boots: True Stories from America’s Bravest Warriors

Walk in My Combat Boots: True Stories from America’s Bravest Warriors

James Patterson and Matt Eversmann, with Chris Mooney. Little, Brown, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-0-316-42909-2

Bestseller Patterson (Deadly Cross) and retired U.S. Army Ranger Eversmann gather firsthand accounts from veterans, most of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan, to deliver a vivid and authentic portrait of life in the modern military. Many of the soldiers profiled are children of career military men and were spurred into action by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Their specialties range from helicopter door gunner to dentist (Maj. Gen. Ron Silverman fixed Saddam Hussein’s broken tooth after he was captured in 2003). Recurring themes include the shock of entering a war zone, the experience of losing a friend, and battles with alcohol, drugs, and PTSD. Contributors express mixed feelings about their Afghan and Iraqi allies, doubts about the prospects for long-term stability (“Iraqi culture isn’t wired for democracy”), respect for their foes (“The enemy is smart, coming up with ingenious ways to blow us up”), and pride in their service. Some stories make clear that the technologies allowing for easier communications with the home front than in previous wars also bring immediate access to family dysfunctions. Though the loose structure and lack of transitions from one soldier’s story to the next can be disorienting, the overall effect is powerful. This edifying collection captures the highs and lows of the military experience. (Feb.)