Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience, World War II Through Iraq

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Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780451233417
  • 544 Pages
  • NAL
  • Adult


A renowned historian contends “that the American warrior, not technology, wins wars.” (Patrick K. O’Donnell, author of Give Me Tomorrow)

John C. McManus covers six decades of warfare in which the courage of American troops proved the crucial difference between victory and defeat. Based on years of archival research and personal interviews with veterans, Grunts demonstrates the vital, and too often forgotten, importance of the human element in protecting the American nation, and advances a passionate plea for fundamental change in our understanding of war.


“Urging better recognition of the critical role and central importance of the combat soldier, without whom he says no nation can be safe or strong… full of valuable insights.”

“…another demonstration of [John C. McManus’s] skill at narrating infantry combat… Both readable and persuasive.”

“A superb book-an American equivalent to John Keegan’s The Face of Battle. I sincerely believe that Grunts is destined to be a classic…It’s a powerful look into the hearts and minds of the American ‘grunt,’ the infantryman, the marine, the frontline warrior who exists at the crux of war, and is the true heart and soul of warfare.”
-Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S. Army (ret.), author of On Killing and On Combat

“A superbly written, highly fitting tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the unsung heroes who have shouldered the main burden of horrific combat-and suffered the lion’s share of casualties-while fighting America’s wars. McManus captures-with gritty, ‘muddy boot’ authenticity-the horrors of the real war fought by America’s frontline soldiers and Marines. Reading Grunts is the closest you will get to experiencing actual infantry combat without getting shot at.”
-Jerry D. Morelock, Ph.D., Col. U.S. Army, (Ret.), and Editor in Chief of Armchair General

“From Banzai charges on Pacific Islands to bombs in the streets of Baghdad, Grunts plunges us into the hellish, heroic world of the American Infantryman. This powerful book drives home the unfiltered ferocity of combat- and both the comradeship and loneliness of the soldier or Marine who pays the butcher’s bill for plans concocted by men he’ll never meet. When all of the new technologies have been exhausted, the infantryman’s timeless lot is still to face death at close quarters. Author John C. McManus makes it shatteringly real, and Grunts is hypnotic history writing: honest, savage, heartbreaking and, ultimately, inspiring.”
-Ralph Peters, Fox News Strategic Analyst and author of The War After Armageddon

“A literary and historical achievement of the highest order, Grunts illuminates the experience of the American GI better than any book I have read in years. Using battles such as Peleliu and Fallujah, John McManus brilliantly proves, using the participants’ own words, that the American warrior, not technology, wins wars.”
-Patrick K. O’Donnell, author of Give Me Tomorrow

“Too frequently historians take humanity out of war. McManus skillfully puts man back into the history of America’s recent wars, reminding us that man is still the determining factor.”
-Adrian R. Lewis, Professor, University of Kansas

“John C. McManus’s Grunts contains some of the most vivid accounts of close combat ever recorded in literature. The reader has the sense of being actually present in the battles. His descriptions show precise details of combat at the closest personal levels and with absolute authenticity.”
-Bevin Alexander, combat historian in the Korean War and author of Inside the Nazi War Machine