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House to House: An Epic Memoir of War

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  5,508 ratings  ·  348 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, 336 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Free Press (first published January 1st 2006)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  5,508 ratings  ·  348 reviews

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Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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."
May 23, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Quite good descriptions of fighting before and during Fallujah Iraq offensive of 11-10-2004. Hard to fathom these methodical killers though it's interesting to watch them prepare. The whole concept of command and control is key. So patient, so focused as they mow the enemy down. Thank God they're out there. Here's to hoping that one day their sacrifices will no longer be needed. (Yeah, right!)

The book's only downside is the fraudulent romantic machismo the author invokes to motivate himself. "C
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
My son-in-law wrote this book. It is a compelling read about a topic I usually shy away from.
~Theresa Kennedy~
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest war memoirs ever written. Shares the truth of the battlefield. How men get the "diarrhea slicks" because of the stress of urban warfare. Toward the end of the book he shares a story about when he is fighting for his life, a much taller, older Afghani solider, in flip-flops. They fight for minutes, which drag on like hours. After he has basically killed his opponent and David is weeping in exhaustion, and they are draped over each other, in the last part of hand-to-hand combat ...more
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Stars for House to House: An Epic Memoir of War, a no-nonsense, unvarnished account of war at the Army squad level in Fallujah, 2004. Bellavia tells it good and bad, he doesn't pull any punches on how raw, dirty, horrific, primeval, ugly combat really is. This is not a book for the weak stomach. If you want to have an inkling of what infantry combat was like in Iraq, this is the book. Also quite sad to think the bravery and blood in this fight was for naught as we left Iraq before the job was ...more
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
Once in a while I pick up one of the memoirs (mostly war) to read. This was a good read about brave men and women who served our country. At the same time it reminds me of how lucky I am to live in America.
The ending gets very emotional. When Staff Sergeant David Bellavia went back afterwards just made me cry. I don't know or could comprehend what they go through but I thank them for things they do.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
A visceral, harrowing account of the battle of Fallujah. Mr. Bellavia clearly had a movie adaptation in mind, or else he views his own actions through the prism of a movie formula: meet the soldiers, extended battle scenes, and an outro to describe what happened to everyone.
There is something appealing, in a lizard-brain, Neanderthal-survival-instinct manner in reading about the gritty horror of war, all with the evil vs. good backdrop. The details are intense and the frenetic writing style doe
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
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
Anna Erishkigal
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Puts you into the firefight unlike any story I have ever read...

This is a MEMOIR, told in the first-person to the best of the storyteller's recollection, helped along by a ghost-writer who put the story into a narrative-enough form to make it understandable for a non-military audience who has never been 'over there.' It put you right into the middle of the action, starting far enough back with a lesser-battle to help you get a feel for Sergeant Bellavia and the other soldiers who worked with him
Tom Schulte
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Focused mainly on the U.S.–Iraqi offensive of November 2004, including a lengthy detailed hand-to-hand denouement, this is a compelling modern war memoir. The author details the techniques and tactics (including insurgents made nearly unstoppable by epinephrine and other drugs) in a narrative story that works in the very human interior experience. The depth of this reflection surfaces rage and panic, faith and fear, missteps and hallucinations. With a second life as a journalist embed, a lengthy ...more
Tiffany Mercer
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
**There is a glossary at the end! Wish I knew this before reading!**
This book was so interesting yet so different from all the other war books I've read. I find it incredible that the author can detail kills made without a visible threat. In other, more recent, war stories the authors have talked about all the red tape and how they have to document every single kill. Anything unprovoked would lead to an investigation. It seemed to be the opposite philosophy in the Iraqi war - that they should ki
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
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Feels like it's more patting on the back than non fictional.. a little beefed up maybe? Not bashing, I'm a veteran as well.. ...more
Audiobook Accomplice (Gillian)
By: Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, John Bruning / Narrated By: Ray Porter
Raw. Fierce. Brave. …And Ray Porter? Is that you…?!?
My Full Review
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
All I can say is this mans account of fighting hand to hand with the enemy is as real as it gets.
Britt Bonanno
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finished it in a week. Great read. Very descriptive and honest.
Matthew Thamert
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
During my time in the Army I knew one of the soldiers who was listed in the book as the S.A.W. gunner that SGT. Bellavia pulled back from the doorway as the insurgents were shooting at them. It was cool to read about what the soldiers in Fallujah had to go through just to clear out some of the houses. This was a great page-turner and I finished it in only two sittings. I also watched the documentary "Only the Dead see the end of War" because the same soldiers in the book are also in part of the ...more
Peter Martuneac
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I feel like I read a different book than others have. Bellavia writes well and endured terrible hardships in Fallujah, let’s get that right. But his accounting of the battle was juvenile and felt like he was just hyping himself and his squad up. I can’t tell you how many times in the book he takes shots at the Marines in this battle, calling into question their capabilities and effectiveness. It seemed to me like he was using his status as a decorated veteran of the battle as a platform purely t ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military, history
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
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Matthew Eisenberg
Aug 22, 2012 rated it liked it
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 book is hard to put down. This book details the experiences of Sgt. Bellavia. He is a team leader in the early years of the war in Iraq, and the story builds to when his unit is sent into Fallujah. Beware, because this book contains graphic war images and plenty of curse words (but I suppose that is what you experience being in the military :-) Bellavia and his company fight house to house, and the story climaxes when his team enters a house to clear it and encounter a number of Terrorists w ...more
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 in the line ...more
Staff Sergeant David Bellavia brutally and fearlessly details the life of the infantry man in the bloody battle of Fallujah in 2004. His profane and honest storytelling forces himself and the reader to confront the challenges, fears and reality of modern urban combat.

Why I started this book: Recommending professional reading for the US Army.

Why I finished it: I couldn't put it down. Powerful, and insightful. Sensitive readers beware: Combat, blood, guts and gore, not to mention language.
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it
An interesting memoir of house to house fighting during the first two days of the Fallujah assault, albeit written by a wannabe tough guy who delights in telling his readers just how wracked by emotion and self doubt he is. If you can get past the author's annoying writing style (and where the hell was his co-author on that??), there's some useful stuff here on the character of modern urban assault and doctrinal flexibility. ...more
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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

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