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Sleeping with Custer and the 7th CavalrySleeping with Custer and the 7th Cavalry

An Embedded Reporter in Iraq

Walter C. Rodgers

Narrated by James K. White

Available from Audible

Book published by Southern Illinois University Press

Under a full opalescent moon in the spring of 2003, CNN correspondent Walter C. Rodgers and three colleagues climbed into an unarmored Humvee loaded with satellite transmission equipment and fell into column formation with the MIAI Abrams battle tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles of Apache Troop, Third Squadron, of the storied 7th Cavalry and crossed the Line of Departure between Kuwait and Iraq. leeping with Custer and the 7th Cavalry: An Embedded Reporter in Iraq is Rodgers’s account of the fight from the Kuwaiti border to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Rodgers was embedded with the “tip of the tip of the spear,” the armored reconnaissance unit tasked with clearing the way for the invasion of Iraq. For the next three weeks Rodgers—a seasoned combat correspondent who has covered armed conflicts in the West Bank, along the “Green Line” in Lebanon, and in Sarajevo, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan—was a first-person witness to the opening campaign of the most significant war America has embarked upon since Vietnam.

Rodgers and his journalistic colleagues in Operation Iraqi Freedom became pioneers in the process of embedding, the placing of journalists who can transmit video reports in real time under combat conditions with no censoring authority to block their reporting. During this journey into war, Rodgers and his crew embraced the dangers, the numbing fatigue, and the moments of stark fear of the young armored cavalrymen they lived with twenty-four hours each day, an experience that created for them the lifelong bond that only soldiers serving together under fire share.

Rodgers also details his return visit to Iraq a year later, reflecting on the nature of war and sharing his personal feelings about a conflict that has claimed the lives of over fifteen hundred American men and women.

Walter C. Rodgers retired in 2005 as senior international correspondent for CNN with more than thirty years of experience as a broadcast journalist. A former ABC News bureau chief in Moscow and a former CNN bureau chief in Jerusalem, he has covered many major events in the Middle East such as suicide bombings in Israel, the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Middle East summit conferences.


“Rodgers, a CNN correspondent, was embedded for three weeks in March 2003 with the Seventh Calvary, who advanced from the Kuwaiti border to Baghdad. In this fascinating account, he begins with his experiences at Embed U, the orientation school for journalists at which he was taught how to deal with chemical weapons, which were never used by the Iraqis. He recalls going into war zones in a refitted Humvee purchased from King Hummer, a used-car salesman in Kuwait. Rodgers and his crew struggled along with the cavalry, trying to stay alive and developing close ties with the soldiers, who never questioned the legitimacy of their missions. The benefit of embedding was the firsthand view of combat it offered the reporters, but Rodgers notes that the embedded journalist necessarily lacks a broader picture. Returning to Iraq a year later, Rodgers interviewed soldiers and Iraqis and found a higher level of danger since the invasion. This stirring close-up account puts a human face on the bravery and determination of all those engaged in the conflict in Iraq.”


Sleeping with Custer and the 7th Cavalry: An Embedded Reporter in Iraq attests to the character of American soldiers—their intelligence, courage, and integrity. Walt Rodgers proves that despite ‘casus belli’ debates concerning the war in Iraq, our nation has every reason to be proud of the men and women it sends to war.”

—President Jimmy Carter

“This stirring close-up account puts a human face on the bravery and determination of all those engaged in the conflict in Iraq.”


“Walt Rodgers was the best of the embedded TV reporters riding into Baghdad, and this thrilling book shows why. Like Rodgers, it combines deep knowledge, gruff common sense, and a flair that is based on substance. It’s a brilliant and colorful look at the worlds of both war and journalism.”

—Walter Isaacson, former chief executive of CNN and author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

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University Press Audiobooks