I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story

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9781400077472: I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Rick Bragg lends his remarkable narrative skills to the story of the most famous POW this country has known.

In I Am a Soldier, Too, Bragg lets Jessica Lynch tell the story of her capture in the Iraq War in her own words--not the sensationalized ones of the media's initial reports. Here we see how a humble rural upbringing leads to a stint in the military, one of the most exciting job options for a young person in Palestine, West Virginia. We see the real story behind the ambush in the Iraqi Desert that led to Lynch's capture. And we gain new perspective on her rescue from an Iraqi hospital where she had been receiving care. Here Lynch’s true heroism and above all, modesty, is allowed to emerge, as we're shown how she managed her physical recovery from her debilitating wounds and contended with the misinformation--both deliberate and unintended--surrounding her highly publicized rescue. In the end, what we see is a uniquely American story of courage and true heroism.

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Review:

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

From the Inside Flap:

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.

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