Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death

Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death

by Jim Frederick

Paperback

$16.20 $18.00 Save 10% Current price is $16.2, Original price is $18. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, December 18

Overview

“Riveting. . . a testament to a misconceived war, and to the ease with which ordinary men, under certain conditions, can transform into monsters.”—New York Times Book Review

This is the story of a small group of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s fabled 502nd Infantry Regiment—a unit known as “the Black Heart Brigade.” Deployed in late 2005 to Iraq’s so-called Triangle of Death, a veritable meat grinder just south of Baghdad, the Black Hearts found themselves in arguably the country’s most dangerous location at its most dangerous time.

Hit by near-daily mortars, gunfire, and roadside bomb attacks, suffering from a particularly heavy death toll, and enduring a chronic breakdown in leadership, members of one Black Heart platoon—1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion—descended, over their year-long tour of duty, into a tailspin of poor discipline, substance abuse, and brutality.

Four 1st Platoon soldiers would perpetrate one of the most heinous war crimes U.S. forces have committed during the Iraq War—the rape of a fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl and the cold-blooded execution of her and her family. Three other 1st Platoon soldiers would be overrun at a remote outpost—one killed immediately and two taken from the scene, their mutilated corpses found days later booby-trapped with explosives.

Black Hearts is an unflinching account of the epic, tragic deployment of 1st Platoon. Drawing on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews with Black Heart soldiers and first-hand reporting from the Triangle of Death, Black Hearts is a timeless story about men in combat and the fragility of character in the savage crucible of warfare. But it is also a timely warning of new dangers emerging in the way American soldiers are led on the battlefields of the twenty-first century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307450760
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 02/01/2011
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 76,411
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

JIM FREDERICK was a contributing editor at Time magazine. He was previously a Time senior editor in London and, before that, the magazine’s Tokyo bureau chief. He coauthored, with former Army Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins, The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Prelude: March 12, 2006 1

Summer 2005

1 "We've Got to Get South Baghdad Under Control" 11

2 The Kunk Gun 24

October 2005

3 "This Is Now the Most Dangerous Place in Iraq" 41

4 Relief in Place, Transfer of Authority 51

5 1st Platoon at the JS Bridge 65

6 Contact 77

November 2005

7 Route Sportster and Bradley Bridge 93

8 Communication Breakdowns 108

9 The Mean Squad 119

10 "Soldiers Are Not Stupid" 125

December 2005

11 Nelson and Casica 135

12 "It Is Fucking Pointless" 148

13 Britt and Lopez 161

14 Leadership Shake-up 170

January 2006

15 Gallagher 185

February 2006

16 February 1 203

17 Fenlason Arrives 223

March 2006

18 Back to the TCPs 241

19 The Mayor of Mullah Fayyad 251

20 The Janabis 258

21 Twenty-one Days 271

April-June 2006

22 "We Had Turned a Corner" 285

23 The Alamo 301

24 Dilemma and Discovery 310

25 "Remember That Murder of That Iraqi Family?" 316

July-September 2006

26 The Fight Goes On 333

27 "This Was Life and Death Stuff" 340

Epilogue: The Triangle of Death Today and Trials at Home 350

Postscript 365

List of Characters 371

Military Units and Ranks 375

Acronyms and Abbreviations 377

Acknowledgments 379

Notes 385

Selected Bibliography 417

Index 431

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I happened to pick up this book after reading an article regarding the Ft. Hood shooting by the same author. After reading some reviews I decided to purchase this book because 1) I was there in the Triangle of Death during the period 2) One of my classmates from the Academy was a member of Bravo Company that unfortunately lost his life during this tragic time. I agree with other reviews of this book that this is a must read for present day military officers and should be required reading. I have personally dealt with some of the leadership challenges in this book as an Officer, and I am not aware of other published works that illustrate these challenges so clearly. Before deploying, I didn't know where my Battalion was headed and I sure as hell did not know how to deal with challenges that lay ahead during my time in Iraq, because what we trained to do and what we did were completely different. This book highlights many issues but leaves it up to the reader to gain insight as to what should have happened to prevent this incident. Only if we had known what really inspired the insurgency would we have been able to preserve so many lives. If I had known what I learned from this book, I may have been better quipped to have a better answer for my Soldiers whenever they would ask me, "Why are we here Sir?" or be able to answer a grieving mother's question of "Why did my son die?" Overall, this is a great book, not because I was there and I was familar with what was going on in that Area of Operations, but because it gives and unbiased third party account of the leadership issues that the Army needs to prepare its leaders for and what Soldiers actually feel during deployments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. My boyfriend who is in Infantry told me to read it. Its one of those books that you just want to keep reading! I could not put it down, i literally got obssesed with it. Looking up articals on the murder, Youtube videos of the platoon (which suprisingly they had) They even have a seven minute video of a memorial that they talk about in the book. Its just amazing what all these guys went though, your literally following their lives in Iraq. Your feel their hatred, and sorrow, frustration and pain. I would recommend this book to anyone! Such a great read!
AndrewN More than 1 year ago
This book is an incredible look into the difficulties of one platoon in the triangle of death in Iraq. The narrative is strong, and the reader is literally on the edge of his seat during certain scenes. The story of the day to day lives of these soldiers, often attempting to achieve impossible tasks in an impossible place at an impossible time drives the book forward. It reads quite quick. The research is impressive and its obvious that Frederick has spent countless hours with most of the major participants in the book. Thematically, the book is also an extended examination about effective leadership. What makes an effective leader? How can a leadership style in one circumstance be effective but in another be literally deadly? How can effective leadership overcome some of the worst military circumstances our nation has seen in years and, conversely, how can ineffective leadership make that situation even worse. Frederick's book is an impressive achievement and I would recommend it to a wide range of readers. By writing a book that is much more than just a history of a time and place in the Iraq War, I believe he's written a text that will be read for years to come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can honestly say that I hate to read, I mean HATE to read anything that i have absolutely no clue about. Luckily, one of my neighbors is one of the main characters in this re-telling of their deployment and the hell that they endured. And to hear how accurate the accounts and recollections are is bone chilling. I started reading the book on Monday night and have dropped all plans until it was completely finished tonight. It is so amazing as to what these men and women went through those first few years securing the triangle of Death and how different it is there today, because of them! To know that this is real and that not only are the majority of our soldiers brave and honorable, that there are so many flaws in the system that anyone could seriously loose their minds trying to do what is right for OUR COUNTRY!!! I feel like in order to get a grip on the realities of war, you really have to put yourself into this book and see what mental and physical compromises these soldiers were faced with... This book is amazing and i WILL let my child read it when she is older to know that Her "uncle" did what was right and made our country stronger, and for that we will always be grateful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simply outstanding and not just for those interested in war books. Far from it. Utterly absorbing.
THT More than 1 year ago
This book was riveting. Especially, how the author went through the significant acts battalion wide, in order to paint a full picture of what the company level leaders were facing. Its just a shame more was not done to assist C Co. and B Co. Hope this book provides closure and a level of catharsis for all those involved.
Rego More than 1 year ago
I just got this book and wasn't able to put it down. I was in Bco during this. Its so good to hear our troubles and how this happened and to shed light on how utterly incompetent our higher leadership was. I think this book will do a lot to help people understand what we went through in Iraq. As far as the one negative review of this book by Jamie Barker: who's gonna benefit from this book while one of the soldiers children are sitting here going through hell cuz of what their father did. thats all i wanna know. I couldn't care less for someone or his children, who rapes and kills a family. That's something he shoulders the blame for. No one else.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book should be read by all future leadership. The story is heart breaking and Im still left wondering how some of the guys are still in the military and have been promoted up! Fairly written in my opinion presenting both sides....very good book.
AceHighBluff More than 1 year ago
This book is outstanding. Let me first say that I was an infantryman who served in Iraq, however my experience was nothing like what these men had to endure. While my knowledge of the Army, Iraq, etc, certainly made the book easier to follow, I do not think that you need to be prior military to understand it. The author does an EXCELLENT job of explaining everything in lay man's terms. It is a documentary of the entire deployment of a specific unit. The author did an amazing job of telling the story from multiple views of high ranking officers all the way down to the newest private. He obviously spent a great deal of time interviewing numerous sources and does an outstanding job of tying it all together. It is a story which tells the truth about combat, both the heroic and the ugly. This book is a great read for anybody, but a MUST READ for military leaders, both NCO's and officers.
THEBOOKTHIEF More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING. I AM A WOMEN AND WELL INTO MY SENIOR YEARS. MY HUSBAND WHO IS ALSO A SENIOR READ IT AND IT SHOULD BE A MUST ON EVERYONES LIST PEOPLE SHOULD NOT JUST READ THE NEWS HEADLINES OR LISTEN TO THE TALKING HEADS TO LEARN THE TRUTH OF THE WAR IN IRACQ. I HOPE THAT MR FREDERICK WILL WRITE ABOUT AFGANISTAN. GREAT READ I GAINED MUCH KNOWLEDGE
arubabookwoman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq by Jim Frederick (2010)If you are mad about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, this book will make you madder.If you are mad about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and the disruption, dislocation and turmoil in the lives of millions of others, this book will make you madder.If you are mad about war crimes committed by Americans (yes, I know the other side commits them too), this book will make you madder.But sometimes we need to get mad.You may remember a news story from the spring of 2006 about a 14 year old girl who was raped and brutally murdered by a group of soldiers, who then set her body on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime. They also brutally murdered her parents and 4 year old sister. This was not a crime of chance, but was fully premeditated.The soldiers were members of the 1st Platoon of Bravo Co. which had arrived in Iraq in October, 2005. This book explores the platoon's psychological isolation and breakdown, day by day, week by week, month by month from its arrival in Iraq until those horrific events. The book does not excuse the war crimes, but it does try to explain them. It is written in factual, almost too unemotional terms. In his introduction, the author states that the book's purpose is to tell "the story of how fragile the values that the U.S. military and all Americans consider bedrock, really are, how easily morals can be defiled, integrity abandoned, character undone."The 1st Platoon was based in the most dangerous and remote part of Iraq's Death Triangle. It was constantly undermanned, undersupplied and lived under the most primitive conditions. The soldier who first reported the rape and murders described the stress the platoon members suffered:"Let me put it to you this way. Take something you do everyday, like go to the mailbox. Everyday you go to the mailbox. Now say that every time you go to the mailbox there was, say a 25% chance that the mailbox was going to blow up in your face. The explosion might not be big enough to kill you. But it could be. You just don't know. Either way, you do know that there was a one-in-four chance that it was going to blow right the f--- up in your face. But you have to go to the mailbox. There is no way you cannot go to the mailbox. So, I ask you: How many times do you think you could go to the mailbox before you started going crazy?"To further explain the Platoon's breadkdown, the author refers to Achilles in Vietnam by Jonathan Shay which noted that the long term debilitating effects of combat are exacerbated exponentially when a soldier's sense of "what's right" is violated by his leaders. "Shortages of all sorts--food, water, ammunition, clothing, shelter from the elements, medical care--are intrinsic to prolonged combat....However, when the deprivation is perceived as the outcome of indifference or disrespect by superiors, it arouses 'menis' (the Greek word for indignant rage) as an unbearable offense. Shay writes that this rage is instrumental in the soldiers' loss of humanity that is essential to the commission of war crimes."The point that comes through loud and clear is that the responsibility for this war crime reaches far above the 4 soldiers who actively commited the deed, and who have been punished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago