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Does My Suicide Vest Make Me Look Fat?: A Soldier's Year in Iraq

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A chronicle of the beginning of the Iraq War, when the US Military was flush with its success in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. The victory became tarnished as warring political and tribal factions transformed the “Land Between Two Rivers” into the Superbowl for terrorism. Caught in this firestorm was a tiny, but determined, Army Reserve Civil Affairs unit that to A chronicle of the beginning of the Iraq War, when the US Military was flush with its success in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. The victory became tarnished as warring political and tribal factions transformed the “Land Between Two Rivers” into the Superbowl for terrorism. Caught in this firestorm was a tiny, but determined, Army Reserve Civil Affairs unit that took on the momentous task of rebuilding schools, medical clinics, and mosques around the perimeter of Baghdad International Airport, during 2003-2004. This is a chronicle of the insane, stupid, humorous, surreal, and tragic events that befell this band of brothers and sisters on their journey through Iraq Reconstruction. It's a story you didn't see in the media. If you really want to know of the extreme effort and sacrifice of our servicemen and women, read no further.


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A chronicle of the beginning of the Iraq War, when the US Military was flush with its success in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. The victory became tarnished as warring political and tribal factions transformed the “Land Between Two Rivers” into the Superbowl for terrorism. Caught in this firestorm was a tiny, but determined, Army Reserve Civil Affairs unit that to A chronicle of the beginning of the Iraq War, when the US Military was flush with its success in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. The victory became tarnished as warring political and tribal factions transformed the “Land Between Two Rivers” into the Superbowl for terrorism. Caught in this firestorm was a tiny, but determined, Army Reserve Civil Affairs unit that took on the momentous task of rebuilding schools, medical clinics, and mosques around the perimeter of Baghdad International Airport, during 2003-2004. This is a chronicle of the insane, stupid, humorous, surreal, and tragic events that befell this band of brothers and sisters on their journey through Iraq Reconstruction. It's a story you didn't see in the media. If you really want to know of the extreme effort and sacrifice of our servicemen and women, read no further.

30 review for Does My Suicide Vest Make Me Look Fat?: A Soldier's Year in Iraq

  1. 5 out of 5

    J.P. Mac

    In John Ready’s war, a car backfire can form the basis for claiming combat decorations. An officer tests HUMVEE armor by blasting away with a pistol, narrowly missing his own troops. A unit’s whimsically garish Christmas decorations serve as aiming points for enemy rockets. Serving in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 as a Civil Affairs officer responsible for Baghdad reconstruction projects, Ready presents 47 recollections that capture the funny, the tragic, the stupid, and the deadly from a war that ended In John Ready’s war, a car backfire can form the basis for claiming combat decorations. An officer tests HUMVEE armor by blasting away with a pistol, narrowly missing his own troops. A unit’s whimsically garish Christmas decorations serve as aiming points for enemy rockets. Serving in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 as a Civil Affairs officer responsible for Baghdad reconstruction projects, Ready presents 47 recollections that capture the funny, the tragic, the stupid, and the deadly from a war that ended in victory, then deteriorated into bloody insurgency. Mostly in the range of two to four pages, these memories are not chronological, bouncing around from the author’s hectic deployment to a sometimes bleak post-war period where the joy of reuniting with family collided with the bitterness of certain indelible memories. A rare view into Army Civil Affairs, this book is worthwhile read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Craig Bergland

    A quick but powerful read. At times funny, at times horrifying and painful, this is a book everyone needs to read. It will touch you deeply.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ardy Mattox

    It is too easy for us to forget the awefulness of war. It is awesome that people can come back and make a worthwhile life after the horror of war. I really liked this book and am so glad it was available

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    Ready was held a major's rank in the Army's Civil Affairs organization and so has a unique insight on post-Saddam Iraq. Much of it was spent spending Saddam's ill-gotten riches on hearts-and-finds projects around Baghdad International Airport. Ready's recollections come in short vignettes rich in wit, cynicism, and harsh reality. I don't know why he feels a need to go on for paragraphs in italics, but overall this is a good, modern military memoir. I was surprised to learn how much of his job was Ready was held a major's rank in the Army's Civil Affairs organization and so has a unique insight on post-Saddam Iraq. Much of it was spent spending Saddam's ill-gotten riches on hearts-and-finds projects around Baghdad International Airport. Ready's recollections come in short vignettes rich in wit, cynicism, and harsh reality. I don't know why he feels a need to go on for paragraphs in italics, but overall this is a good, modern military memoir. I was surprised to learn how much of his job was redistribution of Saddam's wealth to Iraqis through public works projects.

  5. 4 out of 5

    E

    Finally! I kept getting distracted by other books. I enjoy military books/history/biographies, especially when the author has a good sense of humor. Mr. Reader's humor made this book an enjoyable read without getting weighed down by the serious subject. At the same time, he kept respect for touchy matters. Sorry I didn't stick to it better as I enjoyed every time I picked it up.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sabine

    Good military memoir A different take on the Iraq war, from a professional military man. The dry humor makes the stories hit home.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie J Branam

    Great read I loved the snippets of everyday "life" that Mr Ready all I wed us to see. I would love for him to share more if the desire ever strikes him.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rena Newell

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michaila

  10. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Love

  11. 5 out of 5

    nicole

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sabine

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter McShane

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lynn B. Weiler

  16. 4 out of 5

    Logan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Susan Mathis

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eileen Herceg-Brown

  19. 4 out of 5

    Craig Bergland

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dobiac

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jon

  24. 5 out of 5

    Renee Van

    Excellent read. Tells of the author's first hand experiences with candor, gallows humor and skill.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tilden

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  28. 4 out of 5

    John Donovan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris Wallen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joan Maytum

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