War is never an easy or pleasant thing: not for the combatants, not for those who care for them, nor for those who take care of them. Though a bunch of horrifically detailed accounts of the war in Iraq are hitting bookstore shelves, this one separates itself from the pack with its unique point of view. Like a modern day M*A*S*H*, On Call in Hell is Cdr. Richard Jadickís (co-written with Thomas Hayden) story of his deployment in Fallujah in 2004; he took a demotion so he could volunteer his surgical skills on the battlefront.
Jadick draws you into his story from the first word, taking you immediately to Iraq in the first few chapters. Somewhere around that mark, the narrative shifts from the battlefield to how Jadick trained to become a marine, a doctor, and his life growing up in upstate New York - and also the previous Gulf War. It shifts once more as Jadick relates the intricate details of fire fights, making runs to save fallen soldiers, and the tough choices he had to make along the way.
The MP3 audio book is amazing. The production is absolutely superb, and the narration by Lloyd James (whoís worked on several hundred audio books, including the Kurt Cobain biography Heavier than Heaven) is nothing short of phenomenal. The listening experience is like being in another room while a great documentary is on TV Ė itís that compelling. There are no musical cues used to create emotion or any fancy sound effects edited in. Itís simply a courageous and honorable story told effectively. There are not only the complex and bloody details of the casualties on the battlefield, but also the strong bonds he made with the soldiers and the backstory that gives context for his reenlistment. Overall, On Call in Hell is a gritty, compelling story that is a must-read (or listen) for all.