House to House Audio Book Review

House to House: An Epic Memoir of War

By SSGT David Belavia with John Bruning, Narrated by Ray Porter

Audiobook, hours 9 and 20 minutes

Published by Blackstone Audio Inc, August 2007

Language: English


SSGT David Belavia was a Squad Leader assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.  In November 2004, they were assigned to take the city of Fallujah, Iraq, in what would become known as the Second Battle of Fallujah.  The city was held by as many as 3,000 insurgents representing several Iraqi and Islamic terrorist groups, bolstered by Jihadists from around the globe.  The civilian population had largely fled, and the insurgents had taken the opportunity to fortify the city.  They had turned many of the houses into fortified positions, blocking off stairways and turning interior rooms into bunkers.  These ambush houses had been modified to funnel assaulting troops into kill zones.  Other houses were booby trapped, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were placed along the streets.  Some buildings were completely packed with explosives and large quantities of flammable materials, turning the whole building into a huge IED.

Belavia’s Squad was part of a Mechanized Infantry Platoon which was centered around an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank and two M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.  Each of the Bradleys carried six infantrymen as dismounts, with an imbedded journalist and USAF Forward Observation Team jammed in for good measure.

As the title implies, the Second Battle of Fallujah was fought house to house.  The American way of war emphasizes a doctrine known as Combined Arms.  Infantry and armor fight as a composite unit, maximizing the strengths of each.  These units can call in support from aircraft and indirect fires from mortars and artillery.  All this is designed to maximize the firepower which can be brought to bear against an enemy while minimizing the enemy’s opportunities to engage friendly forces.  Urban combat reduces the effectiveness of this doctrine by requiring small groups of infantrymen to enter into close-quarters combat where employing the supporting assets is less practical.

There is little build-up to this book, it begins with a firefight and soon the unit is on its way to Fallujah.  The squad is engaged continuously from the beginning, and soon the men are exhausted, hungry, filthy, and suffering from ailments and injuries large and small.  Each structure they enter is potentially an ambush or wired with explosives.  The ultimate assault in the book is a chamber of horrors where the author fights several insurgents at close quarters in a fortified house.

This is a very gritty story, told with gallows humor and locker room language.  It is not for the squeamish.  It is fast paced, and there are several points where things could have gone very wrong.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Recommended.


4 thoughts on “House to House Audio Book Review

  1. Had a lot of young friends over there, and some not so young. One buddy did 17 deployments with Blackwater between ’03 and ’11. He took an AK round to his face blowing his orbital socket. It took the relief force 90 minutes to reach them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Although I rarely recommend any book about Iraq, in particular the Battle of Fallujah where I lost a lot of good friends, check out No True Glory by Bing West and We Were One by Patrick K. O’Donnell. They got most of it right.

    Liked by 2 people

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