Synopses & Reviews
Informed by unparalleled access to stillsecret documents, interviews with top field commanders, and a review of the military's own internal afteraction reports, Cobra II
is the definitive chronicle of America's invasion and occupation of Iraq a conflict that could not be lost but one that the United States failed to win decisively. From the Pentagon to the White House to the American command centers in the field, the book reveals the inside story of how the war was actually planned and fought. Drawing on classified United States government intelligence, it also provides a unique account of how Saddam Hussein and his high command developed and prosecuted their war strategy.
Written by Michael R. Gordon, the chief military correspondent for the New York Times, who spent the war with the Allied land command, and Bernard E. Trainor, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and former director of the National Security Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Cobra II traces the interactions among the generals, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and President George W. Bush. It dramatically reconstructs the principal battles from interviews with those who fought them, providing reliable accounts of the clashes waged by conventional and Special Operations forces. It documents with precision the failures of American intelligence and the mistakes in administering postwar Iraq.
Unimpeachably sourced, Cobra II describes how the American rush to Baghdad provided the opportunity for the virulent insurgency that followed. The brutal aftermath in Iraq was not inevitable and was a surprise to the generals on both sides; Cobra II provides the first authoritative account as to why. It is a book of enduring importance and incisive analysis a comprehensive account of the most reported yet least understood war in American history.
"The authors do a fine job making one of the most lop-sided campaigns in memory interesting, but the surprises that the Americans encounter turn out to be even more compelling....Cobra II stands as the best account of the war to date." The Washington Post
"What makes Cobra II so important is the extensive reporting that backs up every major pronouncement....[A] classic military history of the blow-by-blow fighting to Baghdad." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"If the style of the narrative is sometimes a dull combat gray, Cobra II expresses a frustration (even a contempt) for the war's planners that is perhaps just as much part of the color of military life now, three years on." Newsday
"A truly remarkable piece of research and reconstruction...extraordinary: a richly detailed human drama, impeccably documented, sure in judgment, and not likely to be matched, still less surpassed, for a long time." John Barry, national security correspondent, Newsweek
"Provides a behind-the-scenes look at the highest levels of military decision making that determined the outcome of the first Gulf War." U. S. Army Chief of Staff's Professional Reading List
"A superb account and analysis of what went right and what went wrong in the Gulf War. All of the inside stories of the people and the policies, the triumphs and the blunders, are here." Jim Lehrer, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
"This model of investigative military history punctures the self-aggrandizing manipulations of commanders and the self-serving hype of politicians...[It leaves] the battlefield strewn with burned-out myths." Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst, National Public Radio
"A fascinating account of the war. I recommend it to my friends as something that gives them a different element of some of the key decisions that were made." Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense
"Cobra II will likely become the benchmark by which other histories of the Iraq invasion are measured....Considering the wealth of detail it contains, Cobra II is a smooth read, but a passing familiarity with the military and the events in question will help the reader." Sean Naylor, The New York Times
"Focuses on high-level decision making and offers the most comprehensive and probing examination thus far of the Gulf War's strategy and operations. It is likely to remain for some time the best single volume on the Gulf War." Eliot A. Cohen, Foreign Affairs
"Why has the war gone so wrong? Cobra II
is the most serious attempt so far to answer this question....Throughout military history...nations and individuals have paid a terrible price for the decisions of commanders in whom daring and determination were married to delusion, self-regard, and a fatal disrespect for their adversaries. Whatever the outcome in Iraq, Gordon and Trainor have definitively entered Operation Iraqi Freedom on that sorry roster." David Rieff, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review
There have been many reports about the Iraq War and the vicissitudes of the American occupation, yet none heretofore has been informed by the inside story. Cobra II is definitive. Rendered fairly and documented impressively, it offers a galvanizing account of the strategy, the personalities, the actual battles, the diplomacy, the adversary, and the occupation. It is full of fresh revelations.
A revelatory work of investigative journalism, this comprehensive and unfiltered account of the war in Iraq is written by the only reporter who was embedded with the Allied land command.
About the Author
Michael R. Gordon is the chief military correspondent for the New York Times
, where he has worked since 1985. He is the coauthor, with Lieutenant General Bernard E. Trainor, of The Generals' War
. He has covered the Iraq War, the American intervention in Afghanistan, the Kosovo conflict, the Russian war in Chechnya, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and the American invasion of Panama. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
Bernard E. Trainor, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general, was a military correspondent for the New York Times from 1986 to 1990. He was director of the National Security Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government from 1990 to 1996. Currently a military analyst for NBC, Trainor lives in Potomac Falls, Virginia.