If you want to read a hard-hitting, fast-paced book, read Tim Pritchard’s Ambush Alley. The book is about the U.S. Marines’ own version of Blackhawk Down â€“ the battle to capture two bridges in Nasiriyah, Iraq.
Pritchard’s book is based on the events that occurred on March 23, 2003. On that date, the U.S. Marines were expected to wait twenty-four hours before entering a city that was supposed to capitulate quickly. As many military planners know, the best-laid plans often go awry. After a U.S. Army convoy is ambushed near the city, the Marines are forced to advance their attack by twenty-four hours to rescue the missing soldiers from the convoy and seize the bridges. Unfortunately, the Marines find themselves in a life-or-death struggle with Iraqi forces.
Pritchard does not give a bland, general description of combat â€“ he throws his descriptions in your face. You really feel as if you are with the Marines as they fight to survive. His raw descriptions of the casualties are heart-rending and moving. Anyone who has any romantic ideas of combat after reading Pritchard’s book needs to have their head examined.
I particularly like how Pritchard bounced around to the various combatants â€“ he is able to do this relatively seamlessly. In one paragraph you are reading about Marines dodging RPGs around the southern bridge and then in the next you read about Marines getting chewed up and spit out by the A-10s near the northern bridge. I believe this style of reading provides you a better understanding of how chaotic and deadly combat can be.
Pritchard’s background on the main personalities he covers in the book is excellent. He gives a well-rounded description of each that allows you to draw your own conclusions on the way the people acted during the battle. You get a good understanding of the relationships among the various Marines â€“ the Marine tankers feel that they are underutilized or under-appreciated by the Marine grunts. Fortunately, this view quickly changes when the grunts realize how much firepower the tanks offer and how much fire they draw away from the grunts.