What do you think of when you hear about Operation Iraqi Freedom? Chances are you see images in your mind of a statue of Saddam Hussein being ripped down in Firdos Square in Downtown Baghdad, or you may recall that image of Saddam being pulled out of his hole in Tikrit; a wretched and destitute creature who claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis during his rule.
The year 2003 seems to be a lifetime away, and the story of Iraq since that time has been melded into what Iraq became after the successful invasion: a hell of occupation littered in blood from IED’s and suicide bombers. Through the fog of what Iraq has become, the fact is nearly lost that Iraq was taken in the most successful and efficient invasion in history; a history that needs to be told to an America who needs to see its victories in Iraq as it once did in Vietnam.
Operation Iraqi Freedom was a flash in history, a twenty-two day invasion that was overwhelmingly successful made so by a coalition of warriors with a set goal to take Baghdad. Among these was an American tanker, a Marine Corporal named Aaron Grant who kept a journal of his experiences in the war from the front line. For 15 years he wrote remembering through the fog of war facts he once tried to forget. Piecing together history as a military historian, he delivers the full context of Iraq in 2003. Taking Baghdad is less about tactics and more about history; it is more about the big picture: the politics, the protests, the Iraqi’s than it is about a solitary Corporal. It is educational as it is personal. Aaron recognizes that he plays a small part in the war, delivering to the audience an entire history of the invasion intermingled with his experience. It is an historical memoir of war something only those who served in war can properly convey; making Taking Baghdad a truly unique work from history to tactics, strategy and even to poetry, Mr. Grant illuminates the war with a perspective unparalleled today.
The book is full of life, the struggles within and without make the story, and the history enlightens the audience, that yes, we did see victory in Iraq even if it was in the blink of an eye. The cost of the victory was high however, as now Staff Sergeant Grant can relate: that total war was exercised by both opposing forces to a maximum degree. Bloody facts left out of history are revealed, and the ugly truth shows its face that war is inhumane, not clean and efficient as we would like to see.