To Take a Minaret

Self knows she has read Filkins before. She just knows.

There’s a book that begins with the marines blasting an AC/DC song through loudspeakers just before they try to take Falluja. That was a Filkins book, right?

She cannot tell you how exquisite his account of the battle for Falluja is: For example, the thousands of rounds of ammunition the marines use up in their (ultimately futile) attempt to take out one sniper. One sniper. Who killed one of their own.

The sniper nonchalantly retreats from the targeted building by riding away on a bicycle, unharmed. Though the marines do manage to demolish the building. Nothing is left but the struts.

Filkins and a fellow journalist decide to go into a minaret so they can take pictures, and the marines won’t let them go unaccompanied so they send two soldiers to be point guards. And the only way to the top of the tower is through a long, winding staircase. The two marines go first. And it is so quiet until, “about three-quarters of the way up,” Filkins hears a loud shot, and then a marine is falling backwards, into his colleague. And right afterwards the marines go crazy and attack the minaret: “Young and determined, up the winding stair.”

And it is suicide. Because the stairs can only accommodate one person at a time. So crack! Crack! Crack! go the shots, and one marine after another keeps falling down the stairs.

(You know what eventually happens to that minaret, right? Yup. You know)

Only a week after the battle of Falluja begins, “nearly a quarter of Bravo” company are “wounded or dead.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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