Thomas Ricks on his favorite Doonesbury strip.

About Garry Trudeau's comic strip.
Oct. 26 2010 10:30 AM

B.D. Wounded in Iraq

Thomas Ricks on his favorite Doonesbury strip.

Slate and Doonesbury.com have compiled a list of Doonesbury's 200 greatest moments. Read David Plotz's interview with Garry Trudeau. See Slate's complete coverage of Doonesbury's 40th anniversary.

B.D.

There are many Doonesbury strips that I carry in my head, but the one I remember most ran in the spring of 2004. I had just come through a rough reporting trip in Iraq. I was in a U.S. Army convoy that was bombed and ambushed, leaving one soldier killed and two wounded. That same evening, by satellite phone, I learned that my father had died. We were about 75 miles south of Baghdad, with all roads around us cut off, so it took some work to get home. I hitched a ride on an Army Black Hawk helicopter to Baghdad and then caught a plane to Amman, Jordan.

With no flights for the next 18 hours, I checked into a hotel where I bought the International Herald Tribune. In my room, I opened the newspaper to find the Doonesbury strip of B.D. getting blown up in Iraq. (See it here.)

I remember staring at this and tearing up. I don't remember much of the rest of that day, except I know I kind of crashed emotionally.

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Garry Trudeau's take on this war is so remarkable because he gets it so right. We see it in this portrayal of the different thoughts of Iraqis and Americans at the same checkpoint.

Or the soldier who has just been in a firefight returning to his base only to receive an e-mail from his wife demanding to know where the hell he had been. (See the strip here.)

This guy deserves a special Pulitzer for his coverage. Much more than most print and TV journalism, Garry has captured the flavor of this war for American soldiers. Unexpectedly, this 1960s smartass has become the Bill Mauldin of the Iraq war.

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Thomas E. Ricks covered the Iraq War for the Washington Postand wrote two books about the war, Fiasco and The Gamble. He currently is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where he is writing a history of American generalship. He also writes the blog The Best Defense for Foreign Policy.

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