Evan Wright must have been crazy: he went into Iraq with the First Recon Battalion of the US Marine Corps’ First Marine Division, then wrote a book about his experience. Wright does a terrific job of portraying the men in the unit: although they are highly skilled, they are also (for the most part) young, and they have a wide range of opinions about where they are and what they’re doing. Wright finds the same Marine Corps archetypes in First Recon that most of us are familiar with: the steely-eyed stone killer; the rebel who joins the military one step ahead of the law; the pretty-boy whose physical beauty belies his killer instinct; the dumb officer. He does a marvelous job of portraying both the terror of combat and its aftermath, particularly in his exposition of the few occasions when the team he was with accidentally killed noncombatants. My primary complaint about the book is that Wright portrays the battalion commander, and most of his subordinate officers, as buffoons (which is why two of them, “Captain America” and “Encino Man” get nicknames). To be sure, this is a welcome contrast to Atkinson’s book, but it’s hard to believe that the officers of such an elite unit are really such rockheads. Nonetheless, I recommend this book highly.