Week 2: Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers Read-a-Long

Today is week 2 of our group read-a-long of Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers.  This week we read pages 87-152, and we hope you’ll leave your comments and/or answers to the questions after the post.

Click here for Week 1.

We welcome you to post your thoughts on your blog and provide a link or just type your thoughts in the comments section of the discussion post; whatever works best for you. You can answer our questions or just discuss whatever you found most interesting in each section.

***Beware of spoilers***

1.  Speaking with an Iraqi man, he tells Birdy’s unit that it is better to cut off the body of the camel rather than the head when you attempt to kill it because without the head it does not know what it is.  Do you think this is true? Why or why not?

S:    In many ways what he says is true, particularly of a dictatorship.  Without the controlling leader to strong arm the nation into doing what he wants, the nation is unsure what direction it should go in without that dictator.  The ouster of Saddam Hussein left many of the factions in Iraq confused as to where the nation was headed, but also interested in how their new freedom could lead to a different kind of Iraq and how it could be used to right some of the wrongs of the past.  However, that also meant dealing with an invading force of Americans, whose motives they were unclear about.

2.  Identity becomes a big theme in the novel in that the American CA unit is unsure who the enemy is and which Iraqi people are happy to see them and who they should be helping.  What does this theme tell you about the characters? And about the military as depicted in this novel?

S:  The American soldiers may have gone through the training they needed to fight in battles, but they were clearly not given enough background on Iraq the country or which tribes and factions existed in the country outside of the ruling power of Saddam Hussein.  The lack of knowledge has left these soldiers at a disadvantage when it comes to identifying the enemy and those in need.  The theme also raises questions about the military focus on following orders without question and the faceless identity it is meant to create as the units move as one with a single purpose.  As identifying the enemy becomes harder, it is also harder for the individual soldiers to stay identity-less.  They are forced to seek out explanations for the actions of their own military and that of the Iraq people, even if those explanations do not seem to make much logical sense.

If you have discussion questions for the second section, we’d love to hear them. 

Post your own questions or comments here or on your own blog.  We’d love to read your thoughts….


  1. […] Click here for this week’s questions.  […]

  2. 1. I totally agree with this. I know it will sound bad, but some countries are not ready for democracy to be forced upon them. Democracy is the most complicated form of government and the populace must be intellectually capable of maintaining it. The Iraqi people were not at this level and needed a less complicated government. I do not condone totalitarian dictatorships, but as long as Hussein was constrained (which he was), we should not have messed with that dynamic unless we were sure the country ended up better for us. Not better for them. The jury is still out on this one.

    2. Since Pres. Bush did not know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, it seems a bit much for the soldiers to be able to differentiate the religious and political factions in Iraq. This is very reminiscent of Vietnam, but arguably even more confusing. The Viet Cong were actively rebelling against the government, but you did not have a similar force within the country that was the opposite of them and also anti-American.

    P.S. Anna had earlier asked about reading Fallen Angels first. I am saving my comments about that earlier tale until we have finished this book, but I can assure you that you would be liking this book a lot less if you had read Fallen Angels first!

  3. Kevin, thanks for reading along with us and answering the questions. There are some big similarities between this war and that of Vietnam, but I think you are right in this case that the religious and political factions in Iraq were not as easily defined as they were in Vietnam.

    As for Fallen Angels, I tend to agree with you on that.

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