The Snake Eaters
In this riveting narrative, U.S. Marine Major and acclaimed novelist Owen West puts readers into the boots of an isolated band of American advisors and Iraqis fighting together in tumultuous Anbar Province, where the people they are trying to protect and the insurgents who are trying to kill them are indistinguishable.
All roads out of Iraq and Afghanistan lead through the deployment of U.S. advisors, yet Americans have scant understanding of what these men do. President Obama, for example, has several times distinguished between combat troops and advisors, when the exact opposite is true: advisors succeed by setting the example in combat. The Snake Eaters follows one team of underprepared reservists and National Guardsmen who arrived in Iraq unprepared for the reality of the mission, built an Iraqi battalion from the ground up, and plunged into battle side-by-side.
In 1972, Bing West wrote the classic account of military advising in Vietnam: The Village. Forty years later, his son Owen, a third-generation Marine, was deployed as an advisor to Iraqi Battalion 3/3-1, the “Snake Eaters,” who became the first Iraqi soldiers granted independent battle space. With a novelist’s flair and a warrior’s eye for combat detail, West takes readers inside the poisonous city of Khalidya, where violence came often and suddenly in the ongoing quest for intelligence about an enemy that was closely mixed in with the population and no one dared speak the truth.
The young American and Iraqi soldiers on patrol and the local townspeople come alive in The Snake Eaters, revealing war as a series of human acts. From Major Mohammad, the Snake Eater who draws the greatest respect from the Americans precisely because he likes them the least, to the big-hearted Sergeant Blakley, a medic stalked by a sniper sworn to kill him, the people West writes about are as complex as the war that changes them.
Battalion 3/3-1 succeeded in pacifying their territory, making West’s exceptional book as instructive as it is impossible to set down.
Owen West is donating his net proceeds from The Snake Eaters to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and to the families of fallen advisors and fallen Iraqi “Snake Eaters.”Read More
Four Days To Veracruz
With style and nonstop action, Owen West, winner of the Boyd literary award for best military novel of 2001, returns with Four Days to Veracruz — an adventure-thriller that sizzles with international intrigue, relentless suspense, and straight-from-the-headlines consequences.
Darren Phillips is a presidential aide, a Harvard graduate, a decorated Desert Storm veteran, and now a husband. Kate North, his new wife, is a world-class adventure racer whom he met on an Eco-Challenge endurance team. When an out-of-bounds kayaking excursion on the couple’s honeymoon in Mexico lands them on the private beach of a violent drug dealer, their exotic getaway suddenly turns deadly. And Darren and Kate are, staggeringly, fugitives.
The couple flees desperately on foot across the badlands of the Sierra Madre, unwittingly carrying a piece of the drug cartel’s encrypted communication code with them. As they race toward Veracruz, they are pursued by corrupt Mexican police, federales, and bloodhounds.More terrifying, they are pursued by a man known as El Monstruo Carnicero — “The Monster Butcher” — a serial killer dispatched from the bloody desert of Juarez by the leader of the Mexican drug cartel. In all their military training, in all their endurance challenges, Darren and Kate have never before been tested as they are now, running for their lives across the wild belly of Mexico.Read More
Winner of the 2002 Boyd Literary Award for Best Military Fiction
Unsure of his own motives, an athletic college graduate becomes a Marine reconnaissance platoon leader. When Lieutenant Gavin Kelly’s recon platoon swims ashore a Mogadishu beach under the glare of hundreds of news camera lights, it is an appropriately surreal beginning to Operation Restore Hope. This modern war is vastly different from the young lieutenant’s experience during Desert Storm. Minutes after the Marines’ celebrated landing, one of Kelly’s men kills an armed Somali bodyguard. The circumstances of the killing are unclear and Kelly finds himself in the exact center of a maelstrom. He must act quickly to deflect a vociferous outcry from members of the international press corps, censure by his Marine superiors, and the possibility of losing the loyalty of his men–particularly two rock-hard sergeants who have vouched for the necessity of the kill.
Thus begins a stinging morality tale where Kelly is torn among his men, his confusing mission, and vicious Somali warlords protected by restrictive international rules of engagement. As his platoon descends into the lawless, violent underbelly of Somalia, Lieutenant Kelly must find his own values in a country whose very culture encourages killing at every street corner. At steep cost, Kelly must learn to accept responsibility for himself, for his men, and for his legacy.Read More