In the Company of Soldiers

  • by Rick Atkinson
  • Narrated by Rick Atkinson
  • 6 hrs and 4 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division, the road to Baghdad began with a midnight flight out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in late February 2003. For Rick Atkinson, who would spend nearly two months covering the division for The Washington Post, the war in Iraq provided a unique opportunity to observe today's U.S. Army in combat. Granted complete access to the commanders and troops of the 101st, Atkinson saw their war from the preparations in Kuwait through the occupation of Baghdad. As the war unfolded, he witnessed the division's struggles to overcome a murderous attack by one of its own soldiers, a disastrous Apache helicopter raid, and fierce resistance from guerrilla diehards in Najaf, Karbala, and Hilla.
At the center of Atkinson's drama stands the compelling figure of Major General David H. Petraeus, described by one comrade as "the most competitive man on the planet." Atkinson observes Petraeus as he teaches, goads, and leads his troops and subordinate commanders in several intense battles. All around Petraeus, we watch the men and women of a storied division grapple with the challenges of waging war in an unspeakably harsh environment. But even as the military wins an overwhelming victory, we also see portents of the battles that would haunt the occupation in the long months ahead.
In the Company of Soldiers is a dramatic, utterly fresh view of the modern American soldier in action from the premier military historian of his generation.

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What the Critics Say

"The most intimate, vivid and well-informed account yet published of those major combat operations that President Bush declared at an end on May 1." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Excellent reportage..." (Booklist)
"Superb writing and balance make this the account to beat." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting, informative and balanced

Unlike the multitude of reports heard during the war from embedded journalists, Atkinson's experience as a war historian provides a depth to our troops' experience during the war. While I was initially hoping for a more detailed summary of the war as a whole, as in Atkinson's brilliant Crusade (about the '91 Gulf War), this view from the 101st Airborne's perspective is still captivating. Unfortunately, the abridgement prevents the book from being completely engrossing. Whole chapters are skipped, with a separate narrator providing a summary. The book still flows reasonably well, but it's a pain to have things keep fast-forwarding all the time.

Only a few portions of the book, primarily the last chapter, deal with WMD and other potentially "policital" topics. Here Atkinson occasionally does insert commentary, but it generally feels like that of a historian's analysis. For the most part, it's a review of facts - for example, WMD weren't found and Iraq - Atkinson hardly "sneers" over this.

I wish it weren't abridged, and I hope he writes a Crusade-style book on the full war, but this one is still well worth a listen.
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- miyaker

You are there

No doubt this Pulitzer Prize winner (An Army at Dawn) knows how to write. He also is a solid narrator. One gets a sense of what it was like to be in boots on the ground, though Atkinson was embedded with military leadership, so it's not the Ernie Pyle account of the dogface. But, it's good writing, good narration, and gives one a perspective of the uncertainties of war and the need for innovative and imaginative leadership at all levels. For someone looking for more extensive discourse on whether we should be in Iraq, find another book, but don't skip this one altogether. It definitely expands one's perspective on the war.
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- Philip

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-09-2004
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio