policydad, August 22, 2007 (view all comments by policydad)
This is an incredibly insightful book that details the numerous policy steps and missteps during the early (pre-"surge") U.S. activities in Iraq. It provides essential reading for understanding how and why good intentions have gone terribly awry. Now with its broad availability in paperback, FIASCO offers a cautionary tale on the contrast between abstract ideas and hard realities: "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride".
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cberglund, August 9, 2007 (view all comments by cberglund)
I think the Publisher's Weekly review is "spot on" including their comment about the author being a bit naive regarding his hoped for outcome(s). Clearly the indignities that were amassed upon this culture by our Military and the CPA, so vividly detailed in this book, will never be forgotten by a large group of Iraq citizens. With that kind of distrust I see no way that a continued US Military presence within the towns and cities of Iraq will add anything to a long term solution of impacting the insurgency. Even if it's absence means any greater chaos than exists today.
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A book so timely, it should be required reading. Hardly a polemic, this detailed and well-researched book succinctly explains how we got into this war and how each touchpoint has been bungled along the way.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"The main points of this hard-hitting indictment of the Iraq war have been made before, but seldom with such compelling specificity. In dovetailing critiques of the civilian and military leadership, Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Ricks (Making the Corps) contends that, under Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, the Pentagon concocted 'the worst war plan in American history,' with insufficient troops and no thought for the invasion's aftermath. Thus, an under-manned, unprepared U.S. military stood by as chaos and insurgency took root, then responded with heavy-handed tactics that brutalized and alienated Iraqis. Based on extensive interviews with American soldiers and officers as well as first-hand reportage, Ricks's detailed, unsparing account of the occupation paints a woeful panorama of reckless firepower, mass arrests, humiliating home invasions, hostage-taking and abuse of detainees. It holds individual commanders to account, from top generals Tommy Franks and Ricardo Sanchez on down. The author's conviction that a proper hearts-and-minds counter-insurgency strategy might have salvaged the debacle is perhaps naive, and pays too little heed to the intractable ethnic conflicts underlying what is by now a full-blown civil war. Still, Ricks's solid reporting, deep knowledge of the American military and willingness to name names make this perhaps the most complete, incisive analysis yet of the Iraq quagmire. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times,
"[A]bsolutely essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how the United States came to go to war in Iraq, how a bungled occupation fed a ballooning insurgency and how these events will affect the future of the American military."
by Christian Science Monitor,
"[An] extraordinarily well-sourced, highly-detailed portrait....Fiasco is for those who want a serious, on-the-ground picture of what's actually happened with the war."
"Ricks has written an honest book that could help America move beyond the reflexive, red or blue coloring of the war and toward a more dispassionate discussion of the kind of Iraq we hope will emerge from today's near-anarchic state."
by Washington Post,
"In his compelling and well-researched book, Thomas E. Ricks...painfully but clearly reveals an important truth about the Iraq debacle."
by Los Angeles Times,
"Fiasco is not a screed but a well-researched, strongly written account of the miscues that led from shock-and-awe to rampant sectarian strife."
From the #1 bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble, an epic history of the decline of American military leadership from World War II to Iraq
History has been kind to the American generals of World War IIandmdash;Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradleyandmdash;and less kind to the generals of the wars that followed. In The Generals, Thomas E. Ricks sets out to explain why that is. In part it is the story of a widening gulf between performance and accountability. During the Second World War, scores of American generals were relieved of command simply for not being good enough. Today, as one American colonel said bitterly during the Iraq War, andldquo;As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.andrdquo;
In The Generals we meet great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and those who failed themselves and their soldiers. Marshall and Eisenhower cast long shadows over this story, as does the less familiar Marine General O. P. Smith, whose fighting retreat from the Chinese onslaught into Korea in the winter of 1950 snatched a kind of victory from the jaws of annihilation.
But Korea also showed the first signs of an army leadership culture that neither punished mediocrity nor particularly rewarded daring. In the Vietnam War, the problem grew worse until, finally, American military leadership bottomed out. The My Lai massacre, Ricks shows us, is the emblematic event of this dark chapter of our history. In the wake of Vietnam a battle for the soul of the U.S. Army was waged with impressive success. It became a transformed institution, reinvigorated from the bottom up. But if the body was highly toned, its head still suffered from familiar problems, resulting in tactically savvy but strategically obtuse leadership that would win battles but end wars badly from the first Iraq War of 1990 through to the present.
Ricks has made a close study of Americaandrsquo;s military leaders for three decades, and in his hands this story resounds with larger meaning: about the transmission of values, about strategic thinking, and about the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails.
Coming from The Penguin Press in February 2009, Thomas E. Ricks's The Gamble
Thomas E. Ricks 's #1 New York Times bestseller, Fiasco, transformed the political dialogue on the war in Iraq. Now Ricks has picked up where Fiasco left off-Iraq, late 2005. With more newsbreaking information, including hundreds of hours of interviews with top U.S. officials who were on the ground during the surge and beyond, The Gamble is the natural companion piece to Fiasco, and the two are sure to become the definitive examinations of what ultimately went wrong in Iraq.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.