The Highway War


The Highway War

A Marine Company Commander in Iraq

Seth W. B. Folsom

424 pages


October 2007


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eBook (PDF)
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March 2011


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About the Book

****Winner of the 2007 Military Writers Society of America's Gold Medal Award for "Best Memoir"****

The Highway War is the compelling Iraq War memoir of then-Capt. Seth Folsom, commanding officer of Delta Company, First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps. Mounted in eight-wheeled LAVs (light armored vehicles), this unit of 130 Marines and sailors was one of the first into Iraq in March 2003. It fought on the front lines for the war’s entire offensive phase, from the Kuwaiti border through Baghdad to Tikrit. Folsom’s thoughtful account focuses on his maturation as a combat leader—and as a human being enduring the austere conditions of combat and coming to terms with loss of life on both sides. Moreover, The Highway War is the story of a junior officer’s relationships with his company’s young Marines, for whose lives he was responsible, and with his superior officers. Folsom covers numerous unusual military actions and conveys truthfully the pace, stress, excitement, mistakes, and confusion of modern ground warfare. The Highway War is destined to be a Marine Corps classic.

Author Bio

Maj. Seth W.B. Folsom, USMC has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in South Asian national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School. He is from Dumfries, Virginia.


"The Highway War'sextraordinary 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

"[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