Book Reviews


 

 

Marines in the Garden of Eden:
The Battle of An Nasiriyah

by Richard Lowry 

Review by Richard Sheppard

 

A detailed account of units from Task Force Tarawa, comprised of the Marine forces who fought the first significant battle of the Iraq War in 2003. The author had wide access to the officers and men who fought and died at An Nasiriyah, a large Iraqi city where resistance was fierce and the grit of America's finest fighting men shone through. An Nasiriyah was the first significant obstacle as the Marines, in parallel with the Army further west, drove north to Baghdad. Based on experiences from the 1991 Gulf War, many officers and marines predicted a replay of the mass Iraqi surrenders that occurred during that brief war. However, when a comparatively unarmed Army convoy (the notable 507th Maintenance unit, which included rescues POW Jessica Lynch) bungled into An Nasiriyah, the Iraqis took confidence from the encounter, and were ready for the Marines. 

Unfortunately for the waiting Iraqis, the next Americans who showed up were not driving Humvees and unarmored trucks, but were Marines from Task Force Tarawa in tanks, assorted armored vehicles, and enjoying overwhelming air supremacy. The ensuing battle, while ultimately an overwhelming Marine victory, nonetheless bloodied the Marines. Occasionally the narrative is muddled as the author attempts to include the many units involved, but the level of detail does underscore the individual bravery of the many Marines who fought, were wounded, and died. Especially disheartening was the "friendly fire" incident where during the confusion of battle, air strikes were launched against ground Marines with tragic affects. Overall, a tale of how Marines go to war, how they fight, and a recognition of how fortunate the U.S. is to have such warriors fighting our battles.