New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah by Richard Lowry

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah is award-winning author, Richard Lowry's Opus Magnus. Well-documented, mapped, footnoted, and indexed to enhance comprehension of military terminology, this important piece of American history is as moving as a historical novel and as scholarly as a text book.  It's a small piece that packs an enormous wallop.
Unlike other historians who focus solely on battle strategies and tactics, Lowry also introduces the reader to the participants--from the Generals to the Privates--by name. As a result, I shuddered as the Blackwater Contractors were murdered and mutilated in Fallujah -- because this time, they weren't strangers but four men with names -- Westley Batalona, Jerry Zovko, Scott Helvenston, and Michael Teague.  I felt like I was with Gunny Popaditch as he charged into the city to clear out the insurgents -- and I was distressed as any friend would be when he was wounded.  Throughout the battle, I held my breath and prayed for the safety of real people with mothers and fathers and wives and children -- men like Juan Rubio, Benny Alicea, Matthew Smith, and Jason Arellano.
For American tax payers who have come to expect the complications associated with inter-service rivalries, this book highlights the cooperative spirit between the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines that made this mission successful. Lowry allows the reader to peek behind the scenes as the Generals define their battle plans, assessing resources and determining who will do what. Then, as the insurgents react, we see Command reassessing and making tactical adjustments.  We see the Army offering up not just the resources that were requested, but the resources that were available.  We see Navy Corpsman risking their lives to bring aid to the wounded and dying.  We watch as the Air Force C130s " Basher and Slasher "rain down death on the enemy--and we gasp at the bravery of young men willing to confront fanatics who came to Fallujah specifically to kill Americans.
Battle is grim under the best of circumstances -- and this was a long, sweaty journey into horror.  However, there are moments that make us laugh -- like the time when two officers were talking during a lull in the action. One says to the other, "Let's play the Marine Hymn." They radio back to the Army Psyops group who queues up the tune and broadcasts it. In response to the taunt, the enemy pops up from their hidden positions firing wildly and the Marines pick them off, one by one.  As silence returns, one officer says, "That turned out pretty good. Let's play it again!"
New Dawn showcases the close relationships our troops form with each other--so close that they literally risk life and limb to keep other Marines or Soldiers safe. How proud their Mamas must be -- and terrified for them at the same time. On the flip side of that intensity, we can intuit that these young men will grieve for friends who couldn't be saved for the rest of their lives.  
Lowry's book concentrates on what happened. He wisely leaves the why to be argued in other venues. He simply tells the world about Richard Natonski and Tom Metz and John Sattler and Pat Malay and Mike Shupp and Willy Buhl and Craig Tucker and Gary Patton and many others who guided our forces through this tough and frustrating assault.  He shows us how men like Jeff Lee, Jason Clairday, Brad Kasal, and Jeremiah Workman came to be recognized for their heroism--and he reminds us about Ed Iwan, Antoine Smith, Steve Faulkenburg, Chris Adlesperger, and the others who didn't make it back alive.
I've been carrying this book around and showing it to everyone I meet.  I tell them that it's the real deal. I don't tell them that this story makes me cry sometimes when it's dark and I'm all alone. 

Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2010)

Author's Synopsis

New Dawn is the story of the kids who grew up down the block and then flew halfway around the world to fight in the battle that changed the war in Iraq. Richard S. Lowry places you among the brave men and women who fought a determined enemy at the crossroads of civilization. This is the tale of their courage, sacrifice and valor. 
Richard tells the stories of the men and women who fought to clear Fallujah, Iraq's most violent city. This is no ordinary historical account. Richard provides gripping narratives of individual sacrifice and valor while documenting the battle for military historians. He weaves a page-turning story that will educate and entertain in a style reminiscent of Cornelius Ryan's Longest Day.
New Dawn opens with the brutal murder, bludgeoning and burning of four Blackwater security contractors, followed by the aborted first assault and tense standoff during the spring and summer of 2004. Then, New Dawn tells the complete story of the massive final attack as seen through the eyes of those who were there.
Walk down the narrow city streets and into the courtyards, kitchens and bedrooms of Fallujah. Venture into the unknown as young soldiers and Marines kick in door after door, never knowing if they will be greeted by an incensed insurgent or a cowering Iraqi family. This is a story of young Americans at war.