This is a novel that takes you back to 2003, to the very beginning of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Birdie is a soldier in the Civil Affairs unit. At the beginning of the book, he is stationed in Kuwait but the threat of war is only a rumor. When war is declared, Birdie leaves for Iraq, assigned to a small Civil Affairs squad meant to undertake smaller missions to ensure Iraqi support for the US. Their jobs include finding lost children, speaking to communities where there have been casualties, giving medical treatment to civilians and forging relationships with potential Iraqi allies and informants.
Sunrise Over Fallujah is a really good read. Birdie is an intelligent person who thinks about war and his reactions to the people he meets and the situations he encounters. The complexity of being in a warzone, especially one where the enemy seems ill-defined, becomes clear, as does the bravery of the men and women serving with Birdie. One of the most interesting things about this book is its treatment of the recent past—for example, when Birdie hopes for a short war and a quick return home, the reader has the clarity of knowing what will happen in the war, but not what will happen to the characters. It is a well written book, and even people who do not normally like war stories will enjoy it.