Army Interrogator Turns “milblog” Into Award-Winning Book
World War II produced war correspondents whose names became household words, and whose future careers in broadcast journalism were launched based on their wartime reporting. The careers of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Eric Severied, and Howard K. Smith owed much to their battlefront roots.
One milblogger has turned his Iraq blog into an award-winning book, “Saving Babylon: The Heart of an Army Interrogator in Iraq.” Author Paul Holton, who used the name “Chief Wiggles” in his blog, was in Kuwait in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq. He witnessed the toppling of the regime and Saddam’s eventual capture. Holton’s blog attracted thousands of readers while he was stationed in Iraq, and he expects to reach an even broader audience with his book.
Holton becomes the first interrogator to publish a book based on his experience in Iraq. It details his interrogation of 17 Iraqi generals who were put in his charge as POWs.
After the initial months of the war, Holton was sent to Baghdad where his military intelligence skills were put to the test by an amazing assortment of Iraqi sources, including aspiring politicians, common crooks, gun-runners, counterfeiters, and many solid Iraqi citizens who came forward, risking their lives, to help the coalition pave the way for a free Iraq.
In Saving Babylon, Holton manages to convey the same raw, powerful urgency that made him popular as a milblogger. In the book he also captures the long-term perspective that day-to-day reporting often misses. Holton’s book tells of the compassion and goodness of American soldiers and the many successes which he feels have been overlooked by reporters in the mainstream media
One fellow blogger, Glen Reynolds, who writes one of the most widely read blogs, InstaPundit (www.instapundit.com), said “Holton provides an intensely personal account of war and its aftermath, something you’ll never get from the legions of war correspondents who tried, and mostly failed, to cover this war.”
Saving Babylon has also attracted the attention of those book buyers who avidly read military books, both fiction and non-fiction. Holton appears to have struck a chord with this segment of the book market. Military families with loved ones serving in Iraq or Afghanistan have also become big fans of the book.
The Military Writers Society of America awarded Saving Babylon its 2005 Readers Choice Award. In presenting the award, the society’s president, Bill McDonald, himself a Vietnam War helicopter gunner and Bronze Star recipient, said “very few books capture the whole essence of the war going on in Iraq—with all the tribal, religious, historical and cultural divisions that plague the country.” Holton’s personal involvement and the instant delivery style of the blog sets Saving Babylon apart from most war narratives.
McDonald noted that difference. “Saving Babylon is a whole new and most refreshing look at that war and the people who serve there.” He said the book will “not only open your eyes and your mind, but it will also open your heart.”
Holton, an Army National Guardsman, has returned from active duty in Iraq, and continues his website at www.savingbabylon.com. “My experience in Iraq was magical,” Holton said. “I think the blog and the book go a long way to help Americans get a more accurate and positive take on the war.”