I was discussing this on another forum I frequent, and figured I'd post it here too in the event any of you are military buffs or fellow veterans. Just finished both of these back-to-back, and can't recommend them highly enough.
Lone Survivor The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10[=http//www.amazon.com/Lone-Survivor-Eyewitness-Account-Operation/dp/0316067598/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198087510&sr=8-1]Lone Survivor The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
This tragic event as well as the even more tragic rescue attempt was all over the news when it happened, so you may remember it if you pay attention to such things. It was a SEAL operation in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan that went horribly wrong. Marcus Luttrell's persona may come off as a bit arrogant at times, but that's typical for SpecOp people and in no way detracts from the story. Despite the bravado, he also shows a softer, human side here and there throughout the book. All in all an excellent but poignant walk through SEAL/BUDS training and then the ill-fated operation itself.
House to House An Epic Memoir of War[=http//www.amazon.com/House-David-Bellavia/dp/1416574719/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198087565&sr=1-1]House to House An Epic Memoir of War
This one really hit home to me, and was an even more visceral and engaging read than Lone Survivor, probably because I can relate better to it. I fought in Desert Storm in an Armored Cavalry squadron, and we were the "pointy end of the spear" of the 7th Corps push north from Saudi into Iraq, then east to the Euphrates and finally south into Kuwait. My unit was the first to engage the Republican Guard in battle, during one of the worst shamals (sandstorms) of the season. The fighting was intense, albeit short-lived. I say that to point out that, although we fought hard and felt like we were in hell, it was nothing like these guys -- I'm thankful I wasn't an infantryman fighting door-to-door in an urban area for weeks and months at a time. This story was written by SSG David Bellavia, a squad leader in an Infantry Task Force platoon, and centers on the battle to retake Fallujah. It's gritty, knuckle-biting, and raw. Despite my combat tour being 17 years ago and in the cav, I could relate to much of what SSG Bell describes. The Army culture, the trials & tribulations of living and fighting over there, the moral dilemmas that combat soldiers often face, the way the Iraqi people embraced us (despite what you read & hear in the US media)... it's all pretty much the same. Each night I picked up this book, I had to force myself to turn out the lights at 2am because I had to work early the next morning, and I would still lie there in bed feeling like I had absorbed the adrenaline straight out of the pages. BTW SSG Bell has been nominated for the Medal of Honor for his actions that take place near the end of the book.
I don't want this thread to turn into a pro/anti war debate. Regardless of your opinions on the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, or the leadership back home, these are the mostly apolitical experiences of troops on the ground following orders and serving their country. Mark Luttrel (Lone Survivor) can get a bit opinionated on his political views, but it's not enough to spoil the book. SSG Bellavia is hardly political at all -- he's just a man going about his job, and the only establishment he rails against is the misrepresentation by the US media (both books make much of that, in fact). Neither attempt to justify the wars or anything like that. So if you support the troops, regardless of the politics back home, I think you'll enjoy these books and gain some insight into the mind of a modern combat soldier.
I'm not ashamed to admit I misted up a bit with both books.