I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story

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9780739311592: I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story

On March 23, 2003, Private First Class Jessica Lynch was crossing the Iraqi desert with the 507th Maintenance Company when the convoy she was traveling in was ambushed, caught in enemy crossfire. All four soldiers traveling with her died in the attack. Lynch, perhaps the most famous P.O.W. this country has ever known, was taken prisoner and held captive in an Iraqi hospital for nine days. Her rescue galvanized the nation; she became a symbol of victory, of innocence and courage, of heroism; and then, just as quickly, of deceit and manipulation. What never changed, as the nation veered wildly between these extremes of mythmaking, was her story, the events and the experiences of a nineteen-year-old girl caught up in what was and will remain the battle of her life: what she saw, what she felt, what she experienced, what she survived.

I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story is the story this country has hungered for, as told by Lynch herself to Pulitzer Prize–winning author Rick Bragg. In it, she tells what really happened in the ambush; what really happened in the hospital; what really happened, from her perspective, on the night of the rescue. More than this, the collaboration between Lynch and Bragg captures who she is and where she’s from: her childhood in Palestine, West Virginia, a lovely, rugged stretch of land always referred to as the hollow, where she rode horses, played softball, and was crowned Miss Congeniality at the Wirt County Fair the same year the steer she raised took a ribbon. It reveals her relationships with her older brother, Greg Jr., also an enlisted soldier, and her younger sister, Brandi; with her father, Greg Sr., a forty-three-year-old truck driver who has at times worked construction, cut hay, cut firewood, hauled timber, hauled concrete, run a bulldozer, run a backhoe, cleaned houses, and dug graves; and with her mother, Deadra, a city girl from Parkersburg who moved to the hollow and met her future husband when he was eleven and she was nine. And it describes what happened to the Lynch family in the agony of Jessica’s capture and captivity; the terror and disbelief that cascaded through an entire town at the news of her disappearance into enemy hands; the joy of her rescue; and the long work of healing and recovery that lie ahead. Jessica Lynch has won the hearts and minds of Americans. In the hands of Rick Bragg, a renowned chronicler of American lives, her tale is told at last, with grace, and care, and astonishing candor.
From the Hardcover edition.

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Private First Class Jessica Lynch's capture and rescue during the 2003 war in Iraq captured the attention and captivated the emotions of millions of Americans. Accounts of the actual events surrounding Lynch were wildly varied as some took her to be a symbol of American righteousness while others made her out to be a pawn of the US military. But the Lynch that emerges in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg's portrayal is an ordinary young woman caught up in an extraordinary series of events. Bragg, who had the cooperation of Lynch and her family in writing I Am a Soldier, Too intersperses her war story with a detailed portrait of the diminutive kid from Palestine, West Virginia who enlisted to see the world. What's truly remarkable about Lynch is how relatively unremarkable she is. She had a normal working class childhood, did fine in high school, performed capably in basic training, made some good friends, met a guy, and, like thousands of her contemporaries, was sent off to a war zone in the Middle East. But the story takes a sharp turn when her vehicle loses the convoy it was following near Nasiriyah, her four fellow soldiers are killed in the subsequent fighting, and Lynch is badly wounded and taken prisoner. Blacking out for three hours, she awakes in an Iraqi hospital where the tensions of war coupled with a lack of resources and a language and culture barrier make for a harrowing stay even as numerous medical personnel defy their own military to protect her and save her life. Finally, American troops captured Nasiriyah, kicked down the hospital doors (even as hospital workers tried to give them a master key) and airlifted Lynch out. Bragg also tells the story of the blue collar West Virginia town of Palestine and the Lynch family who the world watches, first as Jessica goes missing, then when she is rescued, and finally when she returns amid much fanfare. Bragg keeps the story telling pretty simple, avoiding an analysis of how the story was spun or the politics behind the war itself. In the end, Jessica Lynch is not, by her own insistence, a hero. Rather, she is a soldier with a remarkable story of survival to tell. Thankfully, she has now had the opportunity to tell it herself. --John Moe

About the Author:

Rick Bragg is the author of two best-selling books, Ava’s Man and All Over but the Shoutin’. He divides his time between New Orleans and his native Alabama.
From the Hardcover edition.

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