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House to House: An Epic Memoir of War

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  2,644 ratings  ·  199 reviews
One of the great heroes of the Iraq War, Staff Sergeant David Bellavia captures the brutal action and raw intensity of leading his Third Platoon, Alpha Company, into a lethally choreographed kill zone: the booby-trapped, explosive-laden houses of Fallujah's militant insurgents. Bringing to searing life the terrifying intimacy of hand-to-hand infantry combat, this stunning ...more
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Free Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Jul 05, 2010 MG rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in a ground-view account of the War in Iraq.
Recommended to MG by:
Before picking up this book (on Kindle) some of the reviews I had read suggested that the language and demeanor of the Author were unrealistic (even "over-the-top"), meant to paint a "Rambo" portrait of him, in some self-glorifying way.

Honestly, that's one of the things that piqued my interest in the book. I downloaded a sample chapter from the Kindle store, and I was hooked after 10 pages. Bellavia writes a gritty, "through genuine eyes" portrait of combat you will never see on the evening news
Apr 14, 2008 Nicko rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Militarists
Wow. War is hell. Words escape me.

"America is not at war, The Army is at war; the Marine Corps is jammed up at the gates; and America is at the mall."
My son-in-law wrote this book. It is a compelling read about a topic I usually shy away from.
It took me a bit to put the words together in my head what I wanted to say in my review of House to House. I absolutely loved it, that was never a question. My confusion was how to convey how much I loved it and what a book like this means to me. House to House is the memoir of David Bellavia's time as a soldier in Iraq and in particular his and his unit's experiences in the second Battle of Fallujah, which took place in November of 2004 and was arguably the bloodiest battle in the Iraq war.

Mike (the Paladin)
I listed this on my "Action" shelf though that's not the primary reason for reading it.

Combat is nasty, dirty, "uncomfortable", dangerous and in general not appreciated by the general public. America's soldiers have acquitted themselves with courage throughout our history. I think veterans may get something more from this than non-veterans but it's a look inside urban combat for anyone who will read it. I don't know if any veterans of WWI are still alive, they'd have to be well over 100. There a
This is an Army NCO infantryman's account of some of his experiences in Iraq in 2004 and particularly about his platoon's part in the battle of Fallujah. The author does not pull any punches. He tells of his and his squad's experiences in war in all it's gory, disgusting, and savage specifics. This is not the sanitized version you see on tv; this is how the actions really unfold from the pure joy in killing another human being to the nonstop diarrhea to the lengths one must go in hand to hand co ...more
Amazing book. I've read other reviews that compare Bellavia's work to Tim O'Brien. It is a solid comparison, but Bellavia gives more of a vivid picture of not only combat but the suffering that each solider goes though on the battlefield.

The book contains one of the most violent description of two men fighting to the death. The terror/rage/pain described will haunt me.

Often times you hear people pay lip service to supporting to troops and thanks to all what veterans do. After reading this, there
In House to House, David Bellavia recounts his experience of the Battle of Fallujah, the most costly and hotly-contested battle of the second Iraq War. Ballavia provides a vivid description of urban, house-to-house warfare, and I found the book to be a very quick and intense read.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find information that was new to me (such as the magnitude of the US's fire superiority; the degree to which the opponent can threaten our troops despite their fire inferiority; the a
The language in this book took some time for me to get used to. There is a glossary and abbreviations are spelled out when introduced, but it's challenging to enjoy casual reading when you have to constantly look things up. The material itself was also difficult, but that's to be expected given the subject matter. The content is a play by play of events without much personal analysis offered. I would have been interested in hearing more about the emotional aspects, but that was not the motive of ...more
Craig Fiebig

Terrifying, enlightening, horrifying, worrisome. Bellavia's book evokes every possible gut-wrenching, mind-numbing emotion possible. I cannot believe what it takes for someone to serve in the infantry, to serve one another ... and us, our country. I've read enough history to trip over most poetic descriptions evoked by men in the desperate struggle of combat. SSgt Bellavia's is among the best: "This is the infantry. War's a bitch. Wear a Helmet."

WARNING: This writing is too gruesome for anyone w
While the person David Bellavia portrays himself as in this book is not always likeable, (too Duke Nukem, too Universal Soldier, too hardcore, pumped-up-gung-ho-HOOAH!) it is still an absorbing insight into the house by house style warfare engaged in the Iraq War, 2004, Fallujah.
The book is a good read, I won't take that away from it, but I did drop a star because I couldn't always stand Bellavia's agro junkie attitude.
I did feel, however, that after his 'incident' alone in the house in Fallu
Intense, proper look into the early years of American infantry in Iraq sweeping house to house in an epic testiment from this Staff Sergeant. The whole book covers 3 days as far as his missions, but encompasses the neverending American spirit & the lifelong honor of heroes that serve our country each & everyday. I couldnt put this down & highly recommend this book if you enjoy reading about military/conflict or american history, except if you have loved ones currently abroad serving ...more
This was the first book that I read about the War in Iraq, and what a book to start with. David Bellavia wrote in such a way that it feels you are thrust into the action, standing amid the brass, watching as his squad engages the enemy. The descriptions are graphic, to say the least, and I'm not sure I've ever read such an intense "war book". I believe an earlier review said it was almost like a "military thriller," which is an excellent description.

The graphic descriptions, the language, and t
On the street, first person look at combat from the squad. Some tactics are discussed but overall it is the heart racing, adrenaline pumping action during the first days entering Fallujah. The combat and dialogue are gritty and the story is told with little or no rest. It doesn't let up until the final pages. If you want a first hand account of what urban warfare is like in Iraq, look no further.
Fabian Franco
When I first began to read House to House by David Bellavia I instantly fell in love with the detail that he uses to describe his experiences. This book is full of action. This book left me with late night vivid dreams about David’s environment, because of the detail added to this book with the sense of smell, touch, hearing and seeing put all together at the same time. Not every night though. I really recommend this book to everyone who enjoys war stories. It is an eye-opening story about how w ...more
Carey Brace
Best book about War in Iraq that I have read so far. David tells this story with lots of humor and emotion.
One of the best books I've read in awhile. A must read on a battle Americans know little about.
Gregory Broussard
The military does NOT get enough respect!
Wow... I had just finished Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House when I began reading House to House. I felt it was important to dive into the Iraq war from a soldiers perspective. Plus I have read many novels about Vietnam, WWII, and WWI, and wanted to get a better perspective on Urban Combat. House to House did not disappoint. It was intense, real, at times funny, sad, and gave great perspective.

House to House is an account of the battle at Fallujah. This was the turning point of t
Tippy Jackson
This was a great book. Bellavia does a great job of describing the battle of Fallujah from a soldier's standpoint. He doesn't just dwell on the physical descriptions of what's happening, but also brings up the mental stress, the questions that come to mind and the strategic decisions, with unknown and possibly horrific consequences, that he has to make for himself and the men he genuinely cares about. His descriptions of his fellow soldiers make it really easy for the reader to care about them. ...more
This book was a very dramatic and intense perspective on modern warfare. It described to me the complex struggle that American men take on to proove manhood, or maybe just to feel meaningful. David describes his and other soldiers courageous actions. He gives a good description of what America thinks men aught to be. This concerns me, I even teetered towards sensationalizing the sacrifice. I know there will always be soldiers, but to give killing a stage, seems to glorify it. I honor David's str ...more
Most people have read or seen many books on WWI & WWII to include major war battles such as the invasion of Normandy, or Rangers who were sent behind enemy lines, Rommel & tank battles, etc...

This book brings to life what urban combat in the 21 century at its fiercest can be & how wearing a yellow ribbon really just makes me feel so insignificant compared to what these brave soldiers are doing regardless of politics & all about the man next to u. It is the type of book that opens
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Jul 24, 2010 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: girls, women who want to understand about men's relationships, Americans, and humans.
I LOVE this book!!!!! I Really really really LOVE this book. This book may possibly be tied for my FAVORITE with War and Peace and just above Les Miserables. I'll have to wait awhile and see if the glow wears off.
Certain books make you feel like your world was turned upside down...War and Peace did this for me, and so has this book. Bellavia answered a million questions I always wondered about combat, many that couldn't even be intelligently expressed. I keep thinking of images from this story.
It is difficult not to get pulled immediately into Bellavia's story from the beginning. The book is extremely candid in tone and is written in the first person, present tense which is a bit unusual but very effective in this case. Without being flowery or verbose, the author/main character brings the reader to the streets of Iraq. His descriptions allow you to smell the acrid air, show you the intense gore of combat, and feel your heart flutter in your throat at every sound.
There is a lot of act
Benjamin Cheah
House to House is exactly what it says on the cover: an epic memoir of house to house combat in Fallujah. It reads almost like a military thriller, with breathtaking action scenes and vivid descriptions of combat. In between the firefights, the death and the combat, Bellavia injects scenes of brotherhood, humour, and the humanity that is experienced at the edge of life and death. The combat scenes, of which there are many, are both intense and readable, giving the reader an insight into the mind ...more
a theater major goes to war! I've rolled out the 5/5, first for an Afghan or Iraq war book. beats the American Sniper, beats Outlaw Platoon, equals... Generation Kill.

like of course when a theater/drama university grad is writing a book it's all smoke and mirrors, probably only distantly related to the truth. Bellavia spent four years studying 'the dramatic situation' and 'scene construction' at university, so that is to some degree an explanation for the "fully cyclic-weapons blazing me vs. th
Apr 13, 2008 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rachel by: Eric
Shelves: military
This is a pretty engaging story of one sergeant's experience in Iraq. He tells it in a very melodramatic, epic style, which is somewhat amusing, but the information is all there. Unlike most military memoirs, which are careful to say only good things about others, Bellavia is fairly blunt in his opinions, reserving his compliments for people he honestly admired and those who fell in the line of duty. It offers a lot of insight into life on the ground during the battle of Fallujah, and details so ...more
Apr 08, 2008 Justin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Justin by: housing works
I know I vacillate back and forth between flaming liberal hippy and little boy who thinks war is video games, and neither perspective is all that appropriate for this book...that said, it's completely terrifying and kickass and easily the biggest adrenaline-rush I've ever gotten out of reading a book. I don't know what to make of soldiers like Bellava. I have friends in the service who were in Iraq and I can feel the pride in their expertise and ability and loyalty to their friends and unit, but ...more
I finished this book in a weekend. Incredibly gripping. Made me laugh out loud on my than one occasion. Only reason I'm not giving it five stars is it gets a little overly dramatic at times - sometimes even borderline ridiculous and hard to believe. Not surprised at all he was a theatre major. Regardless, profound insights into the unending internal conflicts soldiers deal with, what they go through, the hells of war, and so much more all make this read more than worth your time.
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Staff Sergeant David Bellavia spent six years in the U.S. Army, including some of the most intense fighting of the Iraq War. He has been awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his actions in Iraq, and recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honor for his actions in Fallujah. In 2005, he received the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York State's highest award for military va ...more
More about David Bellavia...
House to House: A Tale of Modern War House to House: A Soldier's Memoir

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“All the sins I've committed, I've done them with one objective: to keep my men alive. Those kids in my squad, those kids of mine, they are everything. My wife doesn't understand this job or why I do it. My son is too young. My dad wouldn't get it if I tried to explain. My mom would have a heart attack. The need to keep my men alive makes everything else negotiable, and everyone and everything a potential threat.” 7 likes
“Evan stares at me.
I try to hug him. He takes a step back. I pause, my heart in my throat. I’ve got to reach out to him, let myself be vulnerable. I find the courage, but he backs up again.
“You can’t go to Iraq anymore.”
“I know.”
He looks up at Deanna, then back to me. “Did you fight bad guys? You told me you weren’t.” His voice is suspicious, full of accusation. He doesn’t trust me, and I don’t blame him for that.
“No, Evan. I didn’t fight bad guys.”
I can’t bring myself to tell him the complete truth. I want so desperately to go back into this fight. I miss it every day. I always felt I could change the world with a rifle in my hands and our flag on my shoulder.
“Did you get shot?” he looks me over, apparently searching for bullet wounds.
I grin a little. “No, Bud, I didn’t get shot.”
“People get shot in Iraq.”
“Yes, they do.”
It strikes me then that Evan for the first time has a grasp on the dangers that are faced over there. He’s six now, and the world is coming into focus for him.“
People get shot, Daddy. They die. Bad guys kill them.”
I think of Edward Iwan and Sean Sims.
“Yeah, I know they do, Evan.”
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