Her rifle jammed.
''She had cleaned it every day, but the grit had swirled in through the truck's windows...and clogged it again with grime,'' reads the biography I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story. Unable to free the stuck cartridge, Lynch couldn't help her fellow soldiers in the Army's 507th Maintenance Company -- who had never expected to see battle -- as they fought for their lives in the Iraqi desert outside Al-Nasiriyah.
Though Army officials expressed doubt that Lynch would ever be able to recall the events of March 23, 2003, informing The Washington Post, ''The doctors are reasonably sure that she does not know what happened to her,'' it's clear from this short but riveting book that Lynch does indeed remember. She doesn't for one moment pretend to be a hero, telling former New York Times reporter Rick Bragg almost shamefacedly, ''I didn't kill nobody.'' Three important hours are erased from her memory -- from the time her Humvee crashed in a hail of bullets until she woke up in an Iraqi military hospital, her spine fractured, her right arm shattered, her right foot crushed, her left leg broken. It's unclear to this day -- to Lynch or anyone else -- if her injuries were sustained in the accident or the result of torture and rape she endured afterward. What is clear: Despite the best medical care the Iraqis had to offer, Lynch would have died within days had the commando raid not succeeded in freeing her.
After her dramatic rescue came the (now-repudiated) stories of her heroic resistance, M16 blazing, taking down one Iraqi soldier after another before she was captured. Lynch hardly knew what to make of the mythologizing: ''Don't they know I'd give anything in this world if it never happened at all?'' But it did happen, and Bragg manages to suppress his penchant for overblown prose to give the straight story on Lynch's remarkable ordeal.