Mass Casualties


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“Look around,” the drill sergeant said. “In a few years, or even a few months, several of you will be dead. Some of you will be severely wounded or so badly mutilated that your own mother can’t stand the sight of you. And for the real unlucky ones, you will come home so emotionally disfigured that you wish you had died over there.”

It was Week 7 of basic training . . . eighteen years old and I was preparing myself to die.

They say the Army makes a man out of you, but for eighteen-year-old SPC Michael Anthony, this fabled rite of passage is instead a dark and dangerous journey. After obtaining his parents’ approval to enlist at seventeen, Anthony begins this journey with an unshakeable faith in the military based on his family’s long tradition of service. But when he finds himself in a medical unit of misfits as lost as he is, Anthony not only witnesses firsthand the unspeakable horror of war, he experiences the undeniable misconduct of the military. Everything he’s ever believed in dissolves, forcing Anthony to rethink his ideals and ultimately risk his career—and his freedom—to challenge the military that once commanded his loyalty.

This searing memoir chronicles the experiences that change one young soldier forever. A seasoned veteran before the age of twenty-one, he faces the truth about the war—and himself—in this shocking and unprecedented eyewitness account.


“Michael Anthony’s memoir is not about the politics of Iraq. Instead it takes us deep inside the war, inside and outside the operating room, the barracks, the talk of the soldiers, the feeling of the situation. It joins the body of war literature in a unique and powerful way.”

Howard Zinn, Civil Rights Leader, Historian

Author of: A People’s History of the United States

“Though riddled with dark, very dark, humor, Mass Casualties is “MASH” absent the light-heartedness. Michael Anthony’s account of his months as a medic in Iraq chillingly describes how the casualties of real war made him ‘dead to emotions’ as the soul’s protection from fear, anger, and grief. He traces the torturous course of emotional disfigurement. For war-lovers everywhere, it should be mandatory reading.”

Gary Hart

United States Senator (Ret.)

Scholar in Residence, University of Colorado

“Anthony’s painful account of his time at war is at times difficult to read. This coming of age war memoir details the very gut wrenching journey he takes into manhood in the backdrop of grueling combat. His voice is unique and deserves to be heard. We may not all agree with why we fight, but I am proud to be of a generation with Warriors like Anthony, who are compelled to share these important life altering experiences.”

—David Bellavia, Iraq Veteran

Author of: House to House: An Epic Memoir of War

Co-Founder: Vets For Freedom

Nominee: Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross

“There is a curious similarity between Michael Anthony’s “Mass Casualties” diary of daily survival as a young medic in the Iraq war with one of my favorite books, Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz, as a holocaust prisoner in that death camp. Both of these remarkable works introduce us to an alien world that is unimaginable unless experienced– or witnessed through their eyes, and pain, and youthful, matter-of-fact everyday wisdom. It is hard to read about the unexpected casualties of war, among soldiers as well as prisoners, but Michael takes us on an unforgettable personal journey as filled with humor as it is with horror.”

—Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D.

Lead researcher in the: Stanford Prison Study

New York Times best selling author of: The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

“I was moved by Michael’s very personal account of life in Iraq and the wisdom he gained in that crucible—including not to salute if I ever find myself in a war zone.”

—Susan N. Herman, Centennial Professor of Law

President, American Civil Liberties Union

“From traumatic injuries to anthrax shots, Michael Anthony has captured in intricate detail life in a combat zone operating room. As someone who’s done two tours myself, even I learned an incredible amount.”

—Brandon R. Friedman, Iraq Veteran

Author of: The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War

“A raw, honest narrative by a young soldier thrust into an atmosphere that demanded care for the wounded, yet seemingly deprived of leaders who understood their role was to help, and not to be self-absorbed.”

—Bing West

Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs during the Reagan Administration

Author of: The Village and No True Glory

“There are plenty of books about war, usually featuring the trigger-pullers who directly engage the enemy. Mass Casualties looks at war from a different angle, that of those who try to save the wounded and dying. Make no mistake: Their war is just as difficult. Michael Anthony has captured the intensity of the OR, the crushing fatigue of shift duty, and the inevitable clash of personalities that are part of any military unit. It’s a great read for anyone who wants to see the horror of war from a new perspective.”

—Tom Neven, Marine Corps veteran

Author of: On the Frontline

Mass Casualties is a raw, vivid look at the realities behind the daily news about American soldiers overseas. Michael Anthony’s voice has the rough-edged honesty of the best reporting on combat. You will think differently about news from Iraq and Afghanistan after reading this book.”

—James Fallows

Author: Blind into Baghdad: America’s War in Iraq

“A scathing, satirical and often shocking trip through “the other war” in Iraq—the war within the U.S. Army, and within a soldier’s soul. Michael Anthony’s memoir is the perfect antidote for anyone who would glorify war or its impact on warriors. He has penned his generation’s MASH, with echoes ofCatch 22 and Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing sagas.”

—Charles Jones, journalist in the Iraq war

Author of: Red, White or Yellow? The Media & The Military at War in Iraq

“Compelling. Frank. Funny. Disturbing. Michael Anthony loses his innocence in a slow motion train wreck you can’t help but watch. Mass Casualties opens up a brand new conversation on the War in Iraq.”

—Damon DiMarco

Author of: Heart of War: Soldiers’ Voices from the Front Lines of Iraq

“Dulce et Decorum Est, Pro Patria Mori. It seems we must relearn the lessons, again and again—the Old Lie. Mass Casualties finds the truth behind the most recent propaganda; the small stories, the base commonality of human nature revealed in war. SPC Michael Anthony unbuttons and tells us everything in a remarkable readable and eventually fascinating ‘grunts-eye-view’ of a Medical Unit in Iraq. He pulls no punches, and succeeds, through an easy colloquialism and sincerity, of putting you there. A purely personal and timely story, moving from black comedy to a sun-baked depression, anchored with unsparing honesty.”

—Samuel Sheridan

Author of: A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting

“If you are afraid of the TRUTH don’t read this book. SPC Michael Anthony’s personal experience of WAR has no censor. Reading his book is a journey into the battlefields of death, sex, and the loss of his innocence.”

—Lawrence Winters, Vietnam Veteran

Author of: The Making and Un-making of a Marine

“Michael Anthony writes in the tradition of Joseph Heller and Richard Hooker, demystifying the theater of war and revealing our soldiers to be all-too-human figures—comic and petty, but sometimes heroic and tragic.”

—Marc Falkoff

Author of: Poems From Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak

“Michael Anthony’s book Mass Casualties is unique and important. It is unique because it is written from the perspective of an army medic and provides insights about courage, suffering, resilience, and death that could come from no other source. It is important because it provides a deeper understanding of PTSD, suicide, divorce, and other consequences of the Iraq War than they can gain from newspaper headlines and television interviews. Readers of this incredible book will never look at war or its aftermath in quite the same way again.”

—Standley Krippner, Ph.D.

Co-author: Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War Veterans

“Michael Anthony’s candid journal of his tour in Iraq offers a vivid sense of day-to-day life in a war zone medical unit. He enriches our understanding of the variety of ways—sanctioned and unsanctioned, honorable and sordid—our occupying army deals with boredom, fear, frustration, and loneliness.”

—Christian G. Appy, Ph.D.

Author of: Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides

“There’s something of the aburdity of Richard Hooker’s M.A.S.H. and the realism of Lynda Van Devanter’s Home Before Morning in this concise narrative of life in a field hospital.

Michael Anthony calls it like he saw it, refusing platitudes of the virtuous American soldier. This isn’t a portrait of the typical army experience in Iraq; this is one young man’s perspective on what happens when poor leadership fails the challenge of command. Some of the complaints are the usual petty procedural issues and gossip all organizations endure. But rumors of a male colonel offering a blow job to an enlisted soldier, with the two later performing back to back numbers at a unit varsity show—Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” and Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby”? If only Vonnegut or Heller had material like this.”

—Alex Vernon, Ph.D.

Author of: Arms And The Self: War, The Military, and Autobiographical Writing

“Soldiers are witnesses to chaos and carnage, and there is a false belief that they should recover from what they have seen and done, and have had done to them. A dark secret about war is that it seldom builds character. Michael Anthony has written an honest book that is both sobering and relevant.”

—Donald Anderson, editor of War, Literature & the Arts: an international journal of the humanities. Author of: When War Becomes Personal: Soldiers’ Accounts from the Civil War to Iraq

“Spc Michael Anthony channels Baghdad E.R., Catch-22, M*A*S*H and Lord of the Flies as he narrates his dark, entertaining and tragic journey through war. A thoughtful, candid and mesmerizing glimpse into the engimatic world of a U.S. Army combat support hospital.”

—David J Danelo, Veteran

Author of: Blood Stripes: The Grunt’s View Of The War In Iraq

“The human cost of war is excessive, as this harsh but thoroughly absorbing book by Michael Anthony reveals. It’s a riveting account of life within the pitch of battle, giving us—his grateful readers—the feel of this war, its dreadful tensions, its horror, its absurdity. Mass Casualties is an important book, and it deserves wide attention.”

—Jay Parini

Author of: Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America

“The full story of the Iraq War remains to be written, but the firsthand accounts of young people who were there can help us begin to try and make sense of what is often taken as a senseless conflict. Amidst the politics and economics of warfare there are individuals struggling to survive, both physically and emotionally. The least we can do is listen to their stories with genuine empathy and an open mind, as we seek pathways from war toward peace.”

—Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D.

Executive Director of: Peace & Justice Studies Association

“Mass Casualties by Michael Anthony is a true to life exposé of the absurdity of the war in Iraq. Anthony lays bare the hyper-reality of American knowinglessness about Iraq, and captures the day-to-day insanity of the war. Mass Casualties is a must read for patriot Americans concerned with the US global empire and the undisclosed truths of the Iraq occupation.”

—Peter Phillips, Professor Sociology and Director Project Censored Sonoma State University

“Glossy recruitment brochures tell one story. This book tells another. Beyond the slick fantasies promoted by the Pentagon and the euphemisms reported by the news media, Mass Casualtiesoffers readers an account of war that cuts against the mythical grain.”

—Norman Solomon

Author: War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death

Mass Casualties is a raw and humorous account of Army medics dodging harm from mortars and the military bureaucracy. Michael Anthony gives us a gripping memoir of a young soldier trapped in a world of incompetence and hypocrisy that results from a total failure of leadership. This insider’s view of what really happens in an operating room full of combat casualties and the effect it has on the caregivers is eye opening. Our wounded warriors and those who care for them deserve far better.”

—Colonel Steven O’Hern

Author of: The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad

“Mass Casualties is a terrific story of war, emergency medicine, and the men and women who suffer to treat wounded soldiers and civilians. On top of this, he tells the story beautifully, managing to convey both the chaos and the boredom of life in a combat zone.”

—John Merson, Vietnam Veteran

Author of: War Lessons

“SPC Anthony’s authentic journal opens our eyes to the corrosive effect of the military mindset on human sensibilities. This is the unadulterated grit of history, in the here-and-now.”

—Ray Raphael, historian

Author of: Founders: The People Who Brought You a Nation

“An unsettling, hyper-subjective account of a young Army medic discovering himself, his values, and what it means to be a self-directed, conscious man in the world…sobering…vulnerable…spanning the full range of the human experience.”

—Bryan Bayer, CEO Authentic Man Program

“Anthony doesn’t pull any punches. A gritty story about saving lives and medical soldiers’ battle to save their sanity after they’re done saving lives.”

—Vivian Gembara, Iraq Veteran, Bronze star recipient. Initiated the first major investigation into detainee abuse in Iraq and gathered the evidence used in the trial against Iraq’s former president Saddam Hussein.

Author: Drowning In The Desert: A JAG’s Search For Justice in Iraq

“A moving account of a young soldier’s story. This deeply personal memoir gives voice to the countless soldiers we have yet to hear from and never will.

—Yvonne Latty

Author of: In Conflict Iraq War Veterans Speak Out On Duty Loss and the Fight to Stay Alive

“Michael Anthony’s candid narrative of his service in Iraq is far removed from the glamorized picture of military life that has become a staple of our mass media. Instead, we are confronted with the raw reality of death, deception and dishonor; a world of men and women psychologically strained to the breaking point that is rife with corruption, infidelity and the abuse of power. In one of his crises of conscience, Anthony finds himself wishing that he could “forget everything and go back to thinking that everyone in the military is an American hero”. You will share his sense of disillusionment after reading this eye-opening memoir.”

—David Livingstone Smith, Ph.D.

Author of: The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War

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