Marines in the Garden of Eden by Richard S. Lowry

Marines in the Garden of Eden by Richard S. Lowry is a detailed description of Task Force Tarawa’s assault on An Nasiriyah during the initial days of the Iraq War. Lowry provides an excellent look at the men who assaulted and took the first major city to fall to the Americans in the war.

The book generally follows the movements of Task Force Tarawa (primarily made up of 3 infantry battalions and an artillery battalion) and the 507th Maintenance Company (of Jessica Lynch fame). Lowry recounts how the battle began with the 507th convoy and the initial assault by the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He then highlights the next seven days that the Task Force took to secure the city, including an account of how Private Lynch was rescued.

Overall, I like the book. Through Lowry’s use of words, you are able to understand the chaos of the first few days of the battle. His prose is laced with “feel good” words about the Marines – maybe a little too much adoration of the fighting men, you almost feel that they are above doing anything wrong. However, you get the gist that these were well trained and ready to take on any challenges.

Lowry’s account of the battle does conflict with Patrick O’Donnell’s account of the battle in We Were One. Lowry makes it appear that all of the combat arms (infantry, armor, and artillery) worked well together. O’Donnell’s account is laced with aggravation and lack of communication between the various arms, particularly the armor and infantry.

I think that the book is sound in its scholarship. Lowry personally interviewed many of the participants or received correspondence from them. Unfortunately, he was not able to contact any of the members of the 507th for various reasons (he gleaned much of his information on them from reports).

I would recommend this book if you are looking for an overall account of the Battle for An Nasiriyah.

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