Excerpt from Blood Brothers by Michael Weisskopf, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Blood Brothers

Among the Soldiers of Ward 57

by Michael Weisskopf

Blood Brothers by Michael Weisskopf X
Blood Brothers by Michael Weisskopf
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2006, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2007, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

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 earlier to find a unit representative of the 120,000 U.S. troops then in Iraq. We had chosen a platoon of the First Armored Division that operated in a district of northwest Baghdad considered crucial to any hope of securing Iraq. Al-Adhamiya was nestled in a bend of the Tigris River, a historic crossroads for the Sunni Muslims who dominated political life in the days of Saddam Hussein. Sunnis actively fueled the anti-U.S. resistance after he fled: insurgents launched rockets from its alleyways, hid weapons in houses, and seeded the roads with booby-trapped bombs concealed in everything from trash to dead cats.

The platoon’s commander had been killed by a roadside device in late October. I was reminded of his death every time I strapped on body armor—a sixteen-pound Kevlar vest with super-hard ceramic inserts—as I did this chilly night before climbing into the cab of one of three Humvees lined up for the patrol. The sergeant had a different plan. “No, you’re going in the high-back,” he said, directing me to an open-air vehicle usually used to transport equipment or troops. “Okay, let’s go out there and be targets,” he barked as our convoy pulled out for the 8 p.m. patrol.

The soldiers played a daring game of chicken, cruising the streets to draw fire and lure resisters. But tonight there seemed to be no takers. We emerged an hour later into Al-Adhamiya’s main marketplace, a large treeless square that was host to what looked like a block party in full swing. Old men, rocking back and forth on tiny stools, shuffled dominoes. Boys volleyed soccer balls. Women veiled in black fed their children from stalls of roasted chickens and shashlik. No one seemed to notice the foreign invaders passing by. I was scribbling notes from the wooden bench of my Humvee, which was built like a large pickup truck. Across from me, Time photographer Jim Nachtwey was snapping pictures. Two young soldiers, Private Orion Jenks and Private First Class Jim Beverly, pointed M-16s out of the back of the vehicle and kibitzed about Baghdad’s crazy drivers.

“I’d hate to have a nice car here,” said Jenks, a lanky, twenty-two-year-old Californian who had joined the platoon a few days earlier.

“Yeah, someone would ding you, and you’re in a country that has no gun control laws,” Beverly joked back. At nineteen, he was even younger than Jenks, a baby-faced kid from Ohio who sketched fantasy figures in his spare time.

Sergeant Ron Buxton, a short and taut Missourian in his early thirties, was riding shotgun in the cab. He whipped around and yelled, “I don’t care if you joke or smoke, but make sure you watch our back.”

We turned onto Market Street a few minutes before nine and got stuck in traffic in front of the Abu Hanifa Mosque. Second in the line, our Humvee was idling near a clock tower of the sacred Sunni shrine that U.S. tanks had poked a hole in nine months earlier. Elaborate wooden scaffolding encircled the tower now. I wondered if the heart of this ancient capital would mend as easily.

Excerpted from Blood Brothers by Michael Weisskopf. Copyright © 2006 by Michael Weisskopf. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holts and Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Confessions of the Fox
    Confessions of the Fox
    by Jordy Rosenberg
    In Confessions of the Fox, a fictional academic, Dr. Voth, finds a manuscript in the library where ...
  • Book Jacket: Tango Lessons
    Tango Lessons
    by Meghan Flaherty
    Meghan Flaherty's touching memoir, Tango Lessons, reveals some hard but important truths about ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson
    Joshilyn Jackson's The Almost Sisters is a powerful look at the intersection of privilege, family, ...
  • Book Jacket: I Will Be Complete
    I Will Be Complete
    by Glen David Gold
    Glen David Gold is a writer best known for his wryly observant, mordantly funny novels Sunnyside and...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Our House
    by Louise Candlish

    A disturbing and addictive novel of domestic suspense.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Meet Me at the Museum
    by Anne Youngson

    A celebration of letters, kindred spirits and writing a new story for yourself.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    So Much Life Left Over
    by Louis de Bernieres

    An evocative and emotional novel set between the World Wars.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Vox

VOX by Christina Dalcher

The story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter in a society where half the population is silenced.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T B Y Speak

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.