In a Time of War

The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002

Bill Murphy, Jr.

Henry Holt and Co.

The dramatic story of West Point’s class of 2002, the first in a generation to graduate during wartime

They came to West Point in a time of peace, but soon after the start of their senior year, their lives were transformed by September 11. The following June, when President George W. Bush spoke at their commencement and declared that America would “take the battle to the enemy,” the men and women in the class of 2002 understood that they would be fighting on the front lines. In this stirring account of the five years following their graduation from West Point, the class experiences firsthand both the rewards and the costs of leading soldiers in the war on terror.

In a Time of War focuses on two members of the class of 2002 in particular: Todd Bryant, an amiable, funny Californian for whom military service was a family tradition; and Drew Sloan, the hardworking son of liberal parents from Arkansas who is determined to serve his country. On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, Todd, Drew, and their classmates—the army’s newest and youngest officers—lead their troops into harm’s way again and again.

Meticulously reported, sweeping in scope, Bill Murphy Jr.’s powerful book follows these brave and idealistic officers—and their families—as they experience the harrowing reality of the modern battlefield. In a Time of War tells a vivid and sometimes heartbreaking story about courage, honor, and what war really means to the soldiers whose lives it defines.


Read an Excerpt


He was laid-back and blond, a surfer dude in manner if not literal truth, a California kid who believed a double- double burger from In- N-Out was nature’s perfect food. Five foot nine and stocky, he was known in high school for decent golf, mediocre football, better grades, and outrageous pranks. He was sentimental, even sappy, a romantic who was confident in his charms. When he wanted to take a girl he hardly knew to the senior prom, he armed himself with a dozen roses, drove to her house, and asked her in person. (She said yes.) Most of all, he was mischievous. On days off




  • In a Time of War - Bill Murphy Jr.

    "In a Time of War," by Bill Murphy Jr., is the new book chronicling the amazing, true story of the West Point class of 2002, the first cadets in a generation to graduate from the United States Military Academy during wartime.

  • Bill Murphy Jr. on his book, In a Time of War

    Scott Drake interviews Bill Murphy Jr. His book..."In a Time of War" traces 20 young officers from West Point to Iraq and Afghanistan, through courage, honor and heroism to fear, fatigue and disillusionment, and finally to catastrophic injury and death.



Praise for In a Time of War

“What Rick Atkinson did for the West Point class of 1966, Bill Murphy Jr. has had the courage, talent, and dedication to do for the class of 2002. With pencil, boots and tape recorder, Murphy has performed a national service: He sends the reader out among some of the bravest, most inspiring young people in the country, at one of the most pivotal times in our history. Prepare to be moved and amazed.”—David Lipsky, author of Absolutely American

"In these days when most of America glides along, more and more oblivious to the conflict overseas, it is a remarkable achievement for any storyteller to reveal the tight, committed subculture that contends with war every day. Our military community—isolated, insulated and, indeed, emotionally segregated from the rest of the nation—is fighting, suffering and, at times, dying. In a Time of War has paid attention and done so simply, beautifully and honestly. And attention is due."—David Simon, Writer/Producer of HBO’s Generation Kill

“A powerful, penetrating tale about the young officers who bear the burden of our 21st century wars. The themes of In a Time of War are timeless: duty and sacrifice, love and death, heroism and fate.”—Rick Atkinson, author of The Day of Battle and The Long Gray Line

"Brilliantly reported and elegantly written. In a Time of War is a story of courage, but it will also break your heart."—Bob Woodward, author of State of Denial

"Bill Murphy Jr. has captured the idealism and the courage of the 'Golden Children' of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, West Point's bicentennial Class of 2002. Readers will be moved to tears and fierce pride by their spirit and sacrifice. In a Time of War is a heartfelt portrait of war and family—a book that tore my heart out, and one that I will never forget."—Lt. Col. John Nagl (ret.), author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife

“Here is the unforgettable story of the West Point class that bore the full burden of American policy in Iraq. Bill Murphy Jr. captures young officers at war in a classic account that is powerful but not overdrawn, and hauntingly sad yet never saccharine—just straight and true.”—David Maraniss, author of They Marched Into Sunlight
"The story Murphy has written is alternately inspiring and heartbreaking....as combat veterans grow more rare in American society, books like Murphy's become more important."--Andrew Exum, The Washington Post

In the Press

Learning firsthand war's horrors | StarTribune.com
There are a number of remarkable elements in Bill Murphy's "In a Time of War
- Star Tribune

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Bill Murphy, Jr.

  • Bill Murphy Jr. is the author of The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship and In a Time of War: The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002. Previously, he worked as Bob Woodward's research assistant on the bestselling State of Denial. An inveterate entrepreneur who was on the founding teams of three separate start-ups, he is also a former military officer, lawyer, and Washington Post reporter.

  • Bill Murphy Jr.
    Bill Murphy Jr.





    Available Formats and Book Details

    In a Time of War

    The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002

    Bill Murphy, Jr.

    • e-Book



    Henry Holt and Co.