Summary and book reviews of Blood Brothers by Michael Weisskopf

Blood Brothers

Among the Soldiers of Ward 57

By Michael Weisskopf

Blood Brothers
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2006,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2007,
    336 pages.

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About this Book

Book Summary

A powerful account of eighteen months in the lives of three soldiers and a journalist, all patients in Ward 57, Walter Reed’s amputee wing

Time magazine’s Michael Weisskopf was riding through Baghdad in the back of U.S. Army Humvee, an embedded reporter alongside soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, when he heard a metallic thunk. Looking down, he saw a small, dark object rolling inches from his feet. He reached down and took it in his hand. Then everything went black.

Weisskopf lost his hand and was sent for treatment to Ward 57 at Walter Reed Medical Center, the wing of the armed forces hospital reserved for amputees. There he crossed paths with Pete Damon, Luis Rodriguez, and Bobby Isaacs, three soldiers whose stories he learned during months in the ward. Alongside these men, Weisskopf navigated the bewildering process of recovery and reentry, and began reconciling life before that day in Baghdad with everything that would follow his release.

Blood Brothers is the story of this difficult passage—for Weisskopf, Damon, Rodriguez, Isaacs, and hundreds of others—a story that began with healthy men heading off to a war zone, and continued through the months in Ward 57 as they prepared their minds and bodies for a different life than the one they left. A chronicle of devastation and recovery, this is a deeply affecting portrait of the private aftermath of combat casualties.

1.
Toy Soldier

The army convoy rattled through Al-Adhamiya like a carnival roller coaster, each turn as blind as the next. Not that the soldiers could see much anyway. Night had fallen on the old Baghdad quarter, a byzantine maze lit only by kerosene lamps flickering from rugged stone houses. We moved warily in the darkness, patrolling for insurgents in blind alleys custom-made for ambushes and narrow passages perfect for concealing roadside bombs. Only the piercing wail of a minaret’s call to prayer broke the silence. It was anyone’s bet who faced a more dire risk, the hunted in terrorist cells or the hunters in Humvees, along with whom I was riding under a half moon this December 10, 2003.

I was in Iraq to profile the American soldier as “Person of the Year” for Time magazine. It was a dream assignment, a chance to escape Washington and work in exotic environs on a big story. I had teamed up with another reporter, Romesh Ratnesar, and set out three weeks ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

If you're looking for a gung ho story of military heroism, or a polemic on the Iraqi War, Blood Brothers is not for you - this is not a political book (at least not overtly) and while there are heroes aplenty in its pages, Blood Brothers focuses on what happens to the soldiers who return from the front a fraction of their former selves, and how they, and their families, learn to live with horrific and life altering injuries long after the media, and most likely the military, has lost interest in them.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Readers with a low tolerance for inspirational stories will still find plenty of technical and medical details of one tragic, little-publicized consequence of the Iraq war.

Booklist - Roland Green

This thoroughly distinguished addition to the literature on the Iraq War adds further distinction to Weisskopf's career, which he plans to continue to the best of his remaining abilities.

Kirkus Reviews

Ward 57 becomes a metaphor for the horrors of war and the triumph of the human will. An unflinching depiction of the aftermath of war and of the spirit of those who live through it.

Library Journal

Unlike much of the current literature on the Iraq war, little of this book discusses the political aspects of the conflict. Weisskopf recognizes his own experience in that of the soldiers, making for a wonderful story of tragedy and recovery.

Reader Reviews
John Heiss

A graduate of Walter Reed school of injury and recovery
You really hit the proverbial nail. A gut wrenching saga of war from the men and women on the front lines. I too spent my time at Walter Reed(1969). Blood Brothers brought it all back in focus from the moment of impact all the way through the night ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Michael Weisskopf is a senior correspondent for Time magazine, working out of Washington D.C. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of a number of awards for journalism including the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism. As an investigative reporter for the nation section. he has scored many scoops, including the smoking-gun letter of FBI whistle-blower Coleen Rowley and broke stories on Arthur Andersen's shredding of Enron documents, President Bill Clinton's deal with prosecutors and several Monica Lewinsky stories.

In addition to Blood Brothers, he is co-author of two books: Truth At Any Cost, a book on the Kenneth Starr probe published in April of 2000, and Tell Newt to Shut Up, a book ...

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