cover image Iron Bravo

Iron Bravo

Carsten Stroud. Bantam Books, $22.95 (326pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09552-4

The traditions, culture and spirit of the U.S. Army are here embodied in the person of First Sergeant Dee Crane, a ``lifer'' in the First Infantry Division. In pungent, whiplash prose, Stroud (Close Pursuit) chronicles Crane's experiences in Vietnam, peacetime duty at Fort Riley, Kans. (``Home of the Big Red One''), on maneuvers in the Mojave Desert and in combat during the Gulf War. The history of the division is skillfully woven into the narrative, including the WWII victories in Europe and the 1943 defeat at the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, where General Erwin Rommel taught the inexperienced GIs a valuable but costly lesson in tactics. Because First Sergeant Crane is smart, thoughtful, funny, skeptical and articulate, his views on such matters as volunteers versus draftees, commissioned officers, female GIs, race relations, courage in battle and killing the enemy are consistently interesting and informative. (Feb.)