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The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraqby Francis J. West
Synopses & Reviews
From a universally respected combat journalist, a gripping history based on five years of front-line reporting about how the war was turned around–and the choice now facing America
During the fierce battle for Fallujah, Bing West asked an Iraqi colonel why the archterrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had fled in women’s clothes. The colonel pointed to a Marine patrol walking by and said, “Americans are the strongest tribe.”
In Iraq, America made mistake after mistake. Many gave up on the war. Then the war took a sharp U-turn. Two generals–David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno–displayed the leadership America expected. Bringing the reader from the White House to the fighting in the streets, this remarkable narrative explains the turnaround by U.S. forces.
In the course of fourteen extended trips over five years, West embedded with more than sixty front-line units, discussing strategy with generals and tactics with corporals. He provides an expert’s account of counterinsurgency, disposing of myths. By describing the characters and combat in city after city, West gives the reader an in-depth understanding that will inform the debate about the war. This is the definitive study of how American soldiers actually fought –a gripping and visceral book that changes the way we think about the war, and essential reading for understanding the next critical steps to be taken.
Praise for The Strongest Tribe:
"Balanced, panoramic assessment of the Iraq War by former Marine and Reagan administration veteran West (No True Glory, 2005, etc.), who heralds American soldiers as its unsung heroes amid the “fog of Washington”. . .A timely, eye-opening historical analysis that provides clarity around the difficult choices the next president faces."
--Kirkus (starred review)
"In this important new chronicle of the war in Iraq, Bing West reveals how America reached the brink of defeat in 2006 and then managed in 2007 to stage a stunning turnaround. With its vivid, on-the-ground reporting, his book is a fitting tribute to the honor, valor, and toughness of our soldiers. Notwithstanding numerous mistakes by their leaders, West shows that their sacrifices have made success possible--as long we do not withdraw prematurely."
--Senator John S. McCain
“Sometimes the best way to support the troops is to criticize the generals. Bing West does both well in this book, showing a sympathy for our soldiers and Marines, but also a great ear for military truth and a determination to render events accurately. This is his third and most important book about the Iraq war. Read it.”
-- Thomas E. Ricks, author of FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
“A brilliant exposition. Based on extensive experience in the war zone, Bing West recounts how Soldiers and Marines showed the President and the Pentagon the way to solve the Iraq insurgency problem. Echoing the admonition that "all politics are local", The Strongest Tribe convincingly argues that it was a grass roots strategy developed by on-scene officers who forged ties at the tribal level that brought stability to Iraq's turbulent Anbar Province and provided hope for all Iraq.”
-- Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor USMC (Ret.) Co-author of The Generals' War
and COBRA II: The Inside Story of the Invation and Occupation of Iraq
“Some four decades ago I told Bing West that his book, the Village, would become a classic in counterinsurgency warfare. And so it did. "The Strongest Tribe" will surely be West's second classic - a moving and detailed account of almost six years of war in Iraq.”
- Dr. James R. Schlesinger, Director of Central Intelligence Agency, Nixon administration; Secretary of Defense, Ford administration; Chairman, The Mitre Corporation
From the Hardcover edition.
A leading military journalist draws on his combat experience to examine the changing strategies of the U.S. military in Iraq, arguing that American policies are opening a path to victory, if more slowly than most Americans expect, and setting the stage for a stabilized Iraq. 75,000 first printing.
In Iraq, America made mistake after mistake. Many gave up on the war. Then the war took a sharp U-turn. Two generals--David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno--displayed the leadership America expected. A universally respected combat journalist provides a history, based on five years of front-line reporting, about how the war was turned around--and...
About the Author
Bing West was assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs under President Ronald Reagan. He served in the Marine infantry in Vietnam. Later, as an analyst at the RAND Corporation, he wrote the Vietnam classic The Village, that war colleges use as a primer in counterinsurgency. As a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, West has covered the war for five years. His books on Iraq - No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah and The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the United States Marines (co-authored with MajGen Ray Smith)–have won the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award for nonfiction, the Colby Award for military nonfiction, and the Veteran of Foreign Wars Media Award. West is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; his articles appear in The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal, and other major newspapers. He appears on National Public Radio and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.
Table of Contents
Map of Iraq — Map of Baghdad — How to create a mess (Sep 2003) — Descent into chaos (Sep-Dec 2003) — A near collapse (Jan-Jun 2004) — War (Jul-Dec 2004) — Inadequate means; Widescale fighting; Contradictory goals (2005) — The second war begins; The Islamic caliphate; Haditha: explosion on the home front (2006) — A flawed assessment (mid-2006) — Al Qaeda: murder and intimidation; The turnaround begins; The Civil War; Bush weighs his options (Fall 2006) — The war turns (Nov 2006) — Washington turns (Dec 2006) — The Sunnis change sides (Winter 2007) — Momentum (Spring 2007) — Overview (Summer 2007) — Victory in Anbar; Baghdad: the surge takes hold; Washington assesses the surge (Fall 2007) — Progress and uncertainty (2008) — The strongest tribe (2009) — Insurgency and unity of command in Vietnam — Memo to Gen. George W. Casey, USA — Bing West's counterinsurgency lessons.
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History and Social Science » Military » General History