For The Highway War

The Highway War’s extraordinary contribution to the Iraq War literature lies deeper than the details of the battle for Baghdad as described first-hand from the armor of 1st LAR’s vehicles – it is found within the armor of company commander Folsom’s heart and mind. This is a rare, insightful account of a Marine officer privately wrestling with life-and-death decisions, and coping with his personal vulnerabilities, while publicly presenting the hard-charging persona his Marines come to depend on in combat.” – Buzz Williams, author of Spare Parts: A Marine Reservist’s Journey from Campus to Combat in 38 Days

“A great leadership text, this story is about the new Marine Corps that rides into and conducts firefights on wheels as compared to our old way of walking forever. Folsom relates detailed real-life challenges and situations at the cutting edge in combat. He makes the point well that as human individuals we are subject to self-doubt and mistakes while yet moving forward as a combat leader of Marines.” – Col. Wes Fox, author of Marine Rifleman: Forty-Three Years in the Corps

“Seth Folsom’s The Highway War is a classic on the challenges of commanding a company of Marines. The book honors them and him, and it will help other officers understand the trials and glories of leading Marines.” – Col. Allan R. Millett, USMCR (Ret.), author of Semper Fidelis: The History of the U.S. Marine Corps

“Expeditionary Warfare School instructors – and others looking to learn about modern combat – should study The Highway War. Major Seth Folsom’s memoir about his command of Delta Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, is the finest account of infantry combat in the 2003 push to Baghdad that you’ll ever read. . . . Members of the military, particularly Marines, should not miss this gem. . . . Several of his combat scenes rank with the finest war prose penned, right up there with Folsom’s literary hero, William Manchester. Accounts at The Elbow and The Tunnel of company-and platoon-level combat should be studied by future tacticians looking to ready themselves for war in the months and decades to come. . . . [Folsom] is gunned up, buttoned down, and crossing the LD in full attack. Read it, and enjoy the snapshot of the fight with Delta’s Dragons.” – Proceedings

“ This is a fascinating memoir . . . . Maj. Folsom’s book is both an exciting read and highly recommended.” – Midwest Book Review, 2007-11-12

“[Folsom] describes both the war and its lead-up in detailed prose free of exaggeration and self-importance. [The book’s] style makes The Highway War extremely valuable for Marines and other warfighters who might soon be engaged in combat. Folsom’s descriptions of the engagements that occurred when Delta eventually met the enemy are masterful. This book abounds with lessons for junior leaders as the author showcases the effectiveness of simple maneuvers and battle drills executed to standard. The rawness of Folsom’s recollections, which range from prosaic descriptions of desert garrisons to his coming to terms with killing in combat, makes The Highway War a worthy successor to a series of memoirs that have sought to capture war as an experience…[It] is a great read for those interested in Operation Iraq Freedom or looking for an unpolished war story.” – Joint Force Quarterly, 2008-06-06

“Well-written.” – Reference and Research Book News

“. . . .there is no more demanding and challenging job than to command a company in combat. . . .Seth Folsom’s The Highway War captures this experience better than any other book I have read in many years. It is a volume that not only superbly details the challenges and difficulties of commanding a company in combat, but captures the true human dimension of war. . . .one of the best glimpses of the human dimension of war that you will ever read.” – Armchair General

For In the Gray Area

“The number of military advisors is growing in every service, and–as with past conflicts–their stories are seldom told or understood by the general public or even history buffs. This work will appeal to anyone trying to understand the US military’s attempts to build competent forces in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Anyone who has served as a military advisor or even worked with foreign forces will also appreciate Folsom’s work and chuckle at his team’s experiences and frustrations.” – Air & Space Power Journal

“In The Gray Area is an excellent hands-on account, brutal in its descriptions and honest in its observations.  Not written as a scholarly text or as a gung-ho guts and glory popular war story, it is the reality of the day in and day out work carried out by Americans alongside their Iraqi counterparts.… Many lessons can be gleaned from this short tale, not only about the obvious cultural conflicts that exist in war time, but also in terms of the role of advisors in foreign conflicts and the challenges, military and political, that America has had and will continue to have in the Middle East.” — Digest of Middle East Studies

In the Gray Area highlights the kaleidoscope of cultural, institutional and personal challenges a line officer aced accomplishing advisory duties while embedded with the Iraqi Army. Folsom’s description of these and his musings about problem solving in an alien environment—and coping with a recalcitrant counterpart—are instructive for personnel working with foreign forces in training, on exercises or on secondment for any reason. More generally, the book is useful in raising cultural sensitivity, a critical ingredient for success for military personnel in foreign environments.” — Australian Defence Force Journal

“As someone who has spent many years working intimately with foreign militaries, I could identify with much of this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It stands well beside the young Bing West’s 1972 classic account of Marine advisers in Vietnam titled The Village. Our mentors in Uruzgan province will strongly identify.” — Australian Army Journal

For Where Youth and Laughter Go

“This book is a masterpiece that draws you from the first page. You ask yourself, What would I do if I commanded a thousand Marines in a hellhole like Sangin? This is the textbook of agonizing combat leadership, when the task is beyond the battalion’s control. Nation-building was a mistake that our policymakers and generals refused to admit. Only grit, love for each other and self-pride kept our grunts going. Here is the raw, unflinching truth all infantry battalions know—the story of the American fighting man in Afghanistan.” — Bing West, combat Marine, assistant secretary of defense and best-selling author of The Wrong War and One Million Steps

“Where Youth and Laughter Go is a visceral, first-hand account of Marines at war in the Taliban sanctuary of Helmand Province and of the grinding, brutal reality of combat, command, and counter-insurgency.  A timeless classic in the tradition of Bing West’s The Village.” — Daniel R. Green, Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and co-author with William F. Mullen III of Fallujah Redux: The Anbar Awakening and the Struggle with al-Qaeda

Where Youth and Laughter Go is an unusually candid, detailed account of what it’s like to prepare and lead a battalion of U.S. Marines on deployment to one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. LtCol Folsom’s insights into the leadership, tactical and personal challenges posed by operations in Sangin at the tail end of an uncertain war contain valuable, hard-won lessons for future counterinsurgent leaders and students of the conflict.” — Bill Ardolino, associate editor of The Long War Journal and author of Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sheikhs, and the Battle against al Qaeda

“Marines who have been to Sangin or Helmand don’t need to read it; living through it once is enough. But this book should be placed in the hands of every general, every Beltway politician and pundit, and every civilian blessedly untouched by the conflict. They need to read it, so that the actions of 3/7, and every sailor and Marine who waded through a canal or patrolled through moondust, are remembered and honored. They need to know what they have asked the best of American youth to do and have some idea of the hell that brought them home aged and mirthless. Several times Folsom observes that people back home will not understand what his Marines experienced. The public never truly will; but, reading this book, at least they will no longer be ignorant.” — Marine Corps Gazette, November 2015