Have you read: Rieckhoff’s ‘Chasing Ghosts’ puts the reader in the action | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Have you read: Rieckhoff’s ‘Chasing Ghosts’ puts the reader in the action

Mark Dulyanai

“Chasing Ghosts” by 1st Lt. Paul Rieckhoff

Bullets fly and you fear for your life. You are hounded by an enemy that appears from nowhere, strikes randomly and fades immediately into the background. The common people are starving, without power or water, and you do what you can do to relieve them, despite the fact that your own resources are limited. People die every day on the streets that you patrol. It is up to you and 38 other men to maintain order. Welcome to the mean streets of Baghdad as patrolled by lst Lt. Paul Rieckhoff, author of “Chasing Ghosts.”

Rieckhoff, an Amherst graduate with a degree in political science, volunteered for service after graduation. Like his father and grandfather, Rieckhoff chose to go to war. Having left his job as stock broker and high school football coach, Rieckhoff found himself transformed into a commissioned officer (first lieutenant) in command of a light infantry platoon. His platoon was deployed to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Baghdad, where they were unceremoniously dumped into responsibilities that seemed far beyond an infantryman.



On the streets of Baghdad, Rieckhoff found himself in a situation with no easy solutions. He was one of the few light infantry units available in the area, so he found his platoon particularly busy while in Iraq. In “Chasing Ghosts,” Rieckhoff tells it like it is from a man who truly has to do the dirty work. He is unforgiving in his criticisms, and while some may feel that his criticisms may hold a political agenda, I feel they hold the weight of somebody who has “been there, done that.”

“Chasing Ghosts” takes the reader on a “grunt’s eye view” of the counter-insurgency battles being fought in Iraq. Rieckhoff shows what a soldier and representative of the United States in a country torn apart by war is like. He describes what it’s like to “stack” behind a door that could very well be the very last one he would open. We feel what it is like to do the best one can in circumstances that are less than ideal.



I have read other reviews that state that Rieckhoff has a political ax to grind. I found that after reading “Chasing Ghosts” that the only side Rieckhoff is on is the one that will support the troops, both before and after they go off to war. “Chasing Ghosts” has criticism for both political parties, and Rieckhoff spares no venom for either side of the political fence. After returning from Iraq, Rieckhoff started a nonprofit organization (http://www.iava.org) whose sole purpose is to support veterans of Iraq and Iran. A portion of the profits from the sale of his book will go to the support of that organization. Avoid the media pundits and talking heads, read “Chasing Ghosts” for a truthful first-hand account of Iraq.

-Mark Dulyanai is a library assistant at the South Lake Tahoe Branch Library and instructor at Blue Lake Aikido.


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