Cover image for Thunder run : the armored strike to capture Baghdad
Thunder run : the armored strike to capture Baghdad
Zucchino, David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiii, 352 pages : maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Two maps on endpapers.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS79.76 .Z83 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DS79.76 .Z83 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"Thunder Run is the story of the bold assault on Baghdad by the Spartan Brigade of the Third Infantry Division. It was one of the most decisive battles in American combat history, and the biggest armored battle involving American troops since the Vietnam War. With fewer than a thousand men, and facing Iraqi forces dug into bunkers and buildings, the brigade punched a hole through the heart of Baghdad with a high-speed charge to Saddam Hussein's Presidential Palace and Republican Guard headquarters. Many Iraqi soldiers fled or surrendered during the onslaught, but significant numbers stood and fought. Iraqi forces destroyed the brigade's command center, cutting off communications and burning a fleet of signal vehicles. The Iraqis also ambushed the brigade's resupply column, inflicting dozens of casualties and setting fuel and ammunition tankers ablaze in an attack that nearly cut off the main assault column. And even as it appeared that the brigade was seizing control of the capital on the battle's second day, a fierce counterattack across the Tigris River trapped an American company under withering fire and forced a retreat. This is more than just a book about a single battle. It's a candid account of how soldiers respond under fire and stress, and how human frailties are magnified in a war zone. Many Americans believe that Baghdad was taken with a minimum of effort. But for the Spartan Brigade it was a brutal and terrifying three days of urban warfare. The product of dozens of interviews of commanders and men from the Spartan Brigade, and with a foreword from best-selling author Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo), Thunder Run is a riveting firsthand account of how a single armored brigade of fewer than a thousand men was able to capture an Arab capital defended by one of the world's largest armies. Some of the men thought their commander was dead. Capt. Phillip Wolford was slumped behind the turret of his tank, his head sagging, a thin rivulet of blood staining his neck. Wolford's tank column had been ambushed near the Jumhuriya Bridge on the west bank of the Tigris River in central Baghdad. It was April 8, the second day of the battle for Baghdad, and things were going poorly for Wolford and the men of Assassin Company. The crews within sight of Wolford's tank saw the blood on their captain's neck and feared the worst. Then the men of Assassin Company did something odd: They stopped fighting. Everyone looked up from their weapons and wondered: What happened to the CO? Finally Wolford's ammo loader spoke up. ""Sir?"" he said. ""You're bleeding."" The captain had not been hit by a bullet. An AK-47 round had struck a shell casing spit out by the machine gun Wolford had been firing. The casing had ricocheted and pierced his neck, briefly knocking him unconscious. Now his head was clearing. He stood up behind the turret. ""I'm OK! I'm OK!"" he shouted. As suddenly as they had stopped, his men began firing again. But they had lost the advantage. Vehicles were still speeding across the bridge, unloading more Iraqi fighters. Motorboats and fishing vessels were slipping into the river from the east bank, ferrying men and ammunition. Wolford feared his company would be overrun. He lacked the firepower to fight off the enemy, and he didn't know how many more Iraqi reinforcements were on the way. He made a snap decision: Assassin Company was retreating."

Author Notes

Award-winning journalist David Zucchino graduated from the University of North Carolina.

He works for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 and was later nominated for a second.

His book, Myth of the Welfare Mother, won the Harry Chapin Media Award for Best Book in 1997.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It is a popular misconception that the city of Baghdad fell painlessly, like a ripe plum, into the hands of U.S. forces. True, the feared scenario of a protracted, Stalingrad-like siege did not emerge. However, as this intense and thrilling account makes clear, the capture of the city was no walkover. Zucchino is a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times with extensive experience in war coverage. His account is a fast-paced, gritty, and frequently surprising story of men and women in combat, and he expertly interweaves the drama of individual human experiences with the broader strategic and tactical objectives. There are gut-wrenching, deeply disturbing accounts of slaughter, and Zucchino captures the sheer savagery of the early stages of the battle as Iraqi regular and irregular troops sought to parry the initial U.S. armored thrust into the city. Of course, inspiring examples of individual heroism are cited, but there is also a consistent, almost chilling, aura of cool professionalism--these men are superbly trained warriors, after all. Despite the relative inexperience of many of them, they display expertise in the art of high-tech killing. Zucchino's assertion that the conquest of Baghdad could revolutionize concepts of urban warfare is likely to be hotly debated, but this is an outstanding chronicle of an underreported battle of the war, and the buzz is likely to be loud. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Even a very short, victorious shooting war against a disorganized, dispirited, vastly outnumbered and underequipped enemy is hell. That is the central message that Los Angeles Times correspondent Zucchino brings home startlingly well in this riveting account of the American military's lightning capture of Baghdad in April 2003. Zucchino (The Myth of the Welfare Queen) is an experienced, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, and he shows off his reportorial skills in this reconstruction of the "lightning armored strike" in Iraq that the military refers to as a "thunder run." The narrative focuses on the men who commanded and battled in the tank battles as the Americans fought their way to Iraq's capital city. It is often not a pretty picture, nor one for the faint of heart, because Zucchino unhesitatingly and graphically describes the violent and grisly fates that befell hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqi Republican Guard troops and fedayeen militiamen, their Syrian allies (at the border) and the unfortunate civilians who were killed or wounded by the deadly high-tech American armored vehicles and their well-trained crews. He also does not shy away from intimately describing the deaths and injuries of American troops. The Americans who fought their way into Baghdad engaged in, according to Zucchino's account, a vicious, if short-lived, war. While the Americans overwhelmed the Iraqis on the road to Baghdad, U.S. troops faced periodic stiff resistance; rocket-propelled grenades caused death and destruction among the crews in the Bradley fighting vehicles. Zucchino tells his story primarily from the American troops' point of view, but does include a section describing the experiences of a Baath Party militia leader and some Republican Guard officers in this high-quality example of in-depth and evocative war reporting. First serial to Men's Journal. Agent, Angela Brophy for Sterling Lord Literistic. (May 18) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A journalist's-eye view of the brigade that led the assault on Baghdad. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.