Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Sunday, January 13, 2013

Plot Summary:
Born and raised in Columbia, Kentucky, Dakota Meyer had no idea he would follow in his father's footsteps. As a child, he was constantly on the move with his mother, who later left him with his stepfather, Big Mike, who adopted him. Dakota grew up on a 300-acre farm where he learned to cut down Tobacco and actually rode around on his cow, Tinker Bell. In high school, he earned a spot on the football team, and was quite good. Although his dream of playing college ball were dashed after several knee injuries, Meyer changed his fate; after speaking with a Marine recruiter, who said he wouldn't last, he decided to prove this man wrong. What most don't realize is that Dakota grew up with guns and his ability to shoot one was uncanny. After boot camp, in Paris Island, South Carolina, Meyer spent several months in the School of Infantry (SOI) and later finally got his position in the Marine rifle battalion. Despite his amazing ability with his weapon, Meyer had a knack for upsetting his superiors For example, while training in the California Mountain, he ended spending the night on the Deck, in the dead of winter, and getting kicked out of the program, which he was later re-instated after his CO calmed down. Nevertheless, Meyer continued to excel and later earned his position as a rifle man. After being deployed to Iraq, he almost lost his hand to a spider bite, of all things, and spent several months drowning in Kentucky Bourbon until he was told to get it together. When he rejoined his regimen in Hawaii, and with a new rank of Corporal, Meyer was given the opportunity to train and advise Afghani forces. He saw this as his opportunity to see action and gladly accepted the offer. While in Afghanistan, stationed at Combat Outpost Monti, he definitely saw action that not only opened his eyes, but in a way, made him more eager to get into battle. When he was not fighting Taliban insurgents (aka. The Dushmen) he was bonding with his brothers (The Monti 4) and the Afghan troops. He leaned about their customs, had countless conversations about everything, and what to expect from the surrounding villages. Sadly, in the fight for survival, people will do some very backward things just to stay alive. However, Meyer's life changed at the Battle of Ganjigal. After being told that he, and his fellow soldiers, were only in Afghanistan to server as advisers and not fight, Meyer constantly questioned his CO, which resulted in him staying behind to watch the Humvees. In other words, he was told to stay behind (to prove a point that he was to advise), and he was extremely angry and frustrated with this call. However, when the call for weapons support was going unanswered, and his unit was in danger, Meyer makes a decision that could cost him his life and. The rest, they say, is history.

Critical Evaluation:
I usually don't read a whole lot of Adult Non-Fiction, but WOW! When I heard about this extraordinary soldier, and what he did, I wanted to learn about the situation from his perspective. Unlike most nonfiction accounts, which are generally based on research and interviews, there is something about the first-hand account that includes information that no one could know other than then person. Bing West, the man who helped Dakota mEyer write this book, is a Marine Veteran who has been writing military nonfiction for quite some time and I have to hand it to him: he is one heck of a storyteller. Putting aside politics, readers will be engrossed in this story about an every day American boy who chose to join the military to make a difference and do something worthwhile in his life. I think its pointless to argue the fact that having a career is hopeless if you don't go to college. The U.S. Military is an option that young men and woman can pursue, especially if they are looking for structure and discipline. Also, the GI Bill is pretty neat incentive if he or she wants to go to college. For Meyer, his adolescence got the best of him (i.e., skipping school) so rather than whining about it, he became a Marine because he had a set of skills that would help him to become successful. However, what is awesome about this account is that is documents the hard cold truth about war and what these young men and women are willing to do to make sure that our country, and his fellow troops, are safe and secure. I was just blown away by the honesty and candidness about life as a sniper; snipers cannot hesitate nor can they take the time to battle with their conscience and morals. Being sniper is about doing a job without thinking twice and being precise and focused. One thing I did learn is that you never ask a sniper about how many kills he has made. Snipers do not glorify or advertise their kills because a sniper is there to protect his squad and provide coverage. I thought all military men and women were humble, but the most humble of all are the snipers. I will confess that I am an NCIS junkie and that Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a former Marine sniper, also inspired me to pick up this book. All in all, I know have a new respect for anyone who want to put their life on the line to provide their fellow Americans with security and freedom that many countries are still fighting for. More importantly, this book spark a serious conversation about the way the military conducts its operations and if serious changes need to be made. I am so tempted to speak with Veterans about this whole situation because it really forces one to think the whole idea: in battle, do "we shoot first, then ask questions" or vice versa. Furthermore, have the rules of engagement evolved into a  bureaucratic handbook that can cost hundreds of lives? Bring on the conversations!     

Information about the Author:
According to the book jacket of Into the Fire:
Dakota Meyer was born and raised in Columbia, Kentucky, and enlisted in the Unites States Marine Corps in 2006. A school-trained sniper and highly-skilled infantryman, Corporal Meyer deployed to Iraq in 2007 and to Afghanistan in 2009. In 2011, he was awarded the Confressional Medal of Honor hos his unyielding courage in the battle of Ganjigal. He know competes at charity events in skeet and rifle competitions. He also speaks frequently at schools and Veterans' events to raise awareness of our military and remain dedicated to the causes of our veterans. For the families of fallen troops, he has raised more than one million dollars.
Bing West, a Marine combat veterna, served as an assistant secretart of defense for the Regan administration. He has been on hundreds of patrols in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A nationally acclaimed war correspondent, he is the author of Village, No True Glory, The Strongest Tribe, and the Wrong war. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, West has received Marine Corps Heritage Foundation award for military nonfiction, the Veterans of Foreign Affairs News Media Award, and the Marine Corps University Foundations' Russell Leadership Award. He live with his wife, Betsy, in Newport, Rhode Island.


Reading Level/Interest:
Ages 16 & up

Books Similar to Into the Fire:

Awards & Recognition:

From &

We see it all through Meyer's eyes, bullet by bullet, with raw honesty in telling of both the errors that resulted in tragedy and the resolve of American soldiers, U.S.Marines, and Afghan soldiers who'd been abandoned and faced certain death.
Meticulously researched and thrillingly told, with nonstop pace and vivid detail, Into the Fire is the true story of a modern American hero.

Praise for Into the Fire
"The story of what Dakota did . . . will be told for generations." - President Barack Obama, from remarks given at Meyer's Medal of Honor ceremony

"Sergeant Meyer embodies all that is good about our nation's Corps of Marines. . . . [His] heroic actions . . . will forever be etched in our Corps' rich legacy of courage and valor." - General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps

"[Bing] West's greatest strengths are his exceptional personal courage and his experienced perception of combat." - The Washington Post
"West [is] the grunts' Homer." - Los Angeles Times Book Review

“It’s a story of men at their best and at their worst, of a military at its best and its worst, and of technology at its best, but mostly at its worst. The result leaves you gaping in admiration. . . . [A] crisply written book.”National Review

“Ably [captures] Mr. Meyer's hard-bitten drawl and heartbreaking sadness . . . written with his imperfect humanity bravely on display.”The Wall Street Journal

Into the Fire is a deeply compelling tale of valor and duty.  Dakota Meyer will not identify as a hero, but he will, I think, accept the title warrior.  Dakota's storytelling is precise and, for a Medal of Honor recipient, touchingly humble.  With deft prose he drops us smack in the middle of one of the most heinous small unit firefights of the current wars.  His insights into military tactics and politics in a war zone are sharp and uncompromising and work as a primer on infantry war fighting for the uninitiated.  Dakota was a magnificent marine and he is now an equally magnificent chronicler of warfare and the small group of people who do today's fighting for America.”—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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