“Zucchino paints a vivid picture of the battle by stiching together the narratives of soldiers, officers, generals and Iraqis whom he interviewed during and after the war. . . . As an embedded reporter, Zucchino spent enough time with the troops he covered to understand the complex social dynamics that define warriors under fire.” Phillip Carter, The Washington Post
The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad
978-0-8021-4179-8 • $16.00 • Paperback • Jan. 2005
From a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist comes the story behind one of the deadliest battles in the capture of Baghdad
“We have set the conditions to create the collapse of the Iraqi regime. This is the last big battle tomorrow, gentlemen. They said it would take five divisions to win this war, but there’s no question that we can really do it ourselves tomorrow. We’ve got to seal the deal now.” Colonel David Perkins, Commander, Second Brigade, 16:30 hrs, Sunday, April 6
In one of the boldest gambles in modern military history, just three battalions and fewer than a thousand men launched a violent thrust of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles into the heart of a city of 5 million people and, in three bloody days of combat, ended the Iraqi war. Thunder Run is the story of the surprise assault on Baghdadone of the most decisive battles in American combat historyby the Spartan Brigade, the Second Brigade of the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized).
Facing Iraqi forces dug into bunkers and firing from rooftops, the brigade punched a hole through the heart of Baghdad with a high-speed charge to Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace and military parade grounds. Many Iraqi soldiers fled or surrendered during the onslaught, but thousands of Republican Guards, Fedayeen militiamen, and Arab mercenaries stood and fought, challenging seventy-ton Abrams tanks in Toyota pickup trucks, school buses, taxicabs, Chevrolet Caprices, ambulances, and garbage trucks.
Iraqi forces destroyed the brigade’s command center, cutting off communications and burning a fleet of signal vehicles. The Iraqis also ambushed the brigade’s resupply column, killing two sergeants and setting fuel and ammunition tankers ablaze in an attack that nearly cut off the main assault column. And even as it appeared that the brigade was seizing control of the capital on the battle’s third day, a fierce counterattack across the Tigris River trapped an American tank company under withering fire and forced a retreat. With the shadow of Mogadishu hanging over every member of the Spartan Brigade, the capture of Baghdad was a brutal and terrifying three days of urban warfare.
More than just a rendering of a single battle, Thunder Run is a candid account of how soldiers respond under fire and stress and how human frailties are magnified in a war zone. A lieutenant leads a harrowing resupply mission to an intense firefight in the middle of a freeway interchange. A swaggering yet beloved army lifer, eager to get in the action, falls suddenly during an intense gun battle on the airport highway. And a forty-four-year-old bird colonel who had never been in combat prior to the invasion is charged with making one of the most crucial decisions of the war.
The product of over a hundred interviews with commanders and men from the Second Brigade, and with a Foreword from best-selling author Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo), Thunder Run is a riveting firsthand account of how a single armored brigade of fewer than a thousand men was able to capture an Arab capital defended by one of the world’s largest armies.