Princes of War: A Novel of America in Iraq. Claude Schmid. Warriors Publishing Group. June 2016. 340 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9781504038805.
Christian Wynn and Cole “Moose” Murphy are two servicemen serving in Iraq. Their job is called engaging in counterinsurgency activities. One might see that as making friends with Iraqi citizens or one might see it as a “mole” activity in which one attempts to get important information from those same citizens. At the same time they are on high alert 24/7 for there are IEDs planted on the roads they travel, snipers awaiting their appearance, and constant attacks on their peers. The effect of all of these dangers is described so realistically that the reader can feel the constant tension and winds up questioning how anyone can endure under this unrelenting barrage, even when they are supposedly safe in their quarters where they eat, sleep and relax.
They and their peers are the “Wolfhounds,” a group in constant watch for insurgents who develop plans of attack that always seem one or two steps ahead of the Americans. They bitterly accept that their leaders know no more or less than they do. The lack of significant results from the Iraqis they attempt to befriend combined with the frequent devastating attacks is a source of despair that they battle as well, attempting with humor and strict rule adherence to boost morale in constantly, highly volatile situations.
We learn that within Iraq itself, though this account deals with Northern Iraq, there are numerous groups with different ideologies and goals but they all share one common objective – kill Americans. One wonders about the counterinsurgency methods as we learn that anyone who cooperates with Americans also becomes the enemy and may just as easily be shot for such complicity. One has to realize that such strategies are doomed but this calls into honor the noble and superhuman efforts being made by soldiers, officers or enlisted men and women, to accomplish the goal of peace through whatever means are possible to use.
This is one of the most realistic accounts, which reads more like a memoir than a novel, this reviewer has read. The reader is left with more questions than answers but a vivid realization of just what our military endure and why it is so devastatingly life-changing for them whether they serve one or multiple tours of duty. Kudos to Claude Schmid for writing a fictional account based on day-to-day reality for Americans serving in Iraq! A must read!