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San Francisco Chronicle reporter and marine veteran Koopman was embedded in the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, during the most recent war in Iraq. He enjoyed a close working relationship with the CO, the battalion sergeant major, and several other members of the battalion. This didn't destroy his ability to distance himself from aspects of the military that he never liked, or from political judgments on the war. The combination of embedding and prior service did give him a rare perspective on the gritty (literally, when a sandstorm blew up) details of ground combat in Iraq and how the modern American marine relates to his buddies, his enemies, and his family back home. The conclusion of the book offers equally rare material on the nation-building efforts that continue, with sympathy for both the U.S. military and most shades of Iraqi opinion.—ALA Booklist

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