The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney
While the rest of the military and the United States at large is getting ready to go off to war in Afghanistan, Craig Mullaney's stuck in school still; his West Point class is going off to war, but he is in Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. He comes back, though, and is told he is attached to the 10th Mountain Division, providing him little solace as the country gears up for Iraq, with predictions of massively mobile armored warfare. In Afghanistan, though, the Taliban still operate. Craig and his men are sent there. As a PL, Craig faces the sort of challenges that help round out his education. One of his men dies. And when he comes home, the public still is focused on Iraq. It frustrates him, but he sticks by his men. All along the while, he faces the same family struggles that all too many Americans face: his father, the long time role model, has an affair and leaves his mother; his brother is maturing and filling his shoes without a true father figure in place; and his future wife to be is from a different culture, wherein her parents distrust this white American military officer unsure of what he is to do in his life. The story tells of his education at West Point and at Oxford and in combat, and the need for progression, for constant, life long learning.
Joker One by Donovan Campbell
Tells of Anbar Province, Iraq. A Marine unit there is left in Ramadi, while the media pays attention to Fallujah. The insurgency shifts from Fallujah to Ramadi, and the Marines are severely mismatched, but they manage to hold out. Campbell learns what love is and what man is capable of doing. He struggles with the decisions that he made - tactically proficient - that got people killed. Sometimes, he learns, all we have is not enough; the enemy has a say in the outcome too.