The tile of my review is not mine, it is a quote from the author's interview from "The Daily Show". This is a must read book for anyone who is interested in the current state of affairs. I was hoping the author would divulge the motives for the individuals involved in the decision making. The author hinted to the personal motives for the individuals involved, but never clearly stated it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book and it is definitely one I would listen to again in few years when the dust settles.
I lived the wars of Iraq (2 tours 04-05 and 09-10) and Afghanistan (07-08). It is interesting to go back and read about history I was apart of. With that said this book missed the mark. It was written at the height of the insurgency and ran with an idea that we were going to lose the war... Silly, but understandable if viewed from 05-06 time frame.
There were some takeaways that are still valid today:
1. The lack of credible intelligence leading to a faulty invasion plan
2. Lack of clear campaign endstate (although he blames generals, I blame washington, it isn't the military's responsibility to set the conditions of victory... if you left it to us we would just smash everything and leave)
3. Politics kills more Soldiers than the enemy and civilians shouldn't be in charge of defense
The author merely ties together material from interviews and 30,000 pages of declassified documents. He does this quite well. As a longtime Petagon coresondent, he had access. Any good writer who made the commitment to read and write about those 30,000 pages would have been interesting. This guy knew the names of the generals and even colonels and lower in the docs; for every interesting tidbit in them, he has an interview to expand on it.
He puts the whole thing together well from what you can tell was more than a pile of info.
I was pleasantly surprised this book was written very objectively. Unlike some historians, he doesn't list too many boring details and he explains the principal characters.
The perfect storm of F* ups.
If you want to understand how the war got started, this is a great book. The author does a great job of explaining what motivated Bush and his team, and how they fell into many mistakes. If you're looking for a hate Bush book, this is not for you, this book is factual.
Ricks' book is indeed a very well written, well researched account of the origins of the Second Iraq War up through mid - 2006 (pre-Surge). The author provides a thorough, detailed narrative of military actions, in particular the Ramadan Uprising and the two Battles for Fallujah. However, while Ricks does mention certain political events (ie.: the "Mission Accomplished" event and the "Bring It On" declaration), the book falls short because it does not take a deeper look at the impact that domestic politics had on the execution of the war. The run up to the war in late 2002 did, in fact, have an influence on the mid-term election; that increased majority in Congress provided the Bush administration with a more compliant Congress that was willing to support occupation without critical oversight; the management of the war was the key issue in the 2004 presidential campaign that, quite possibly, ensured the re-election of George Bush ("You don't want to change horses in mid-stream" "My opponent wants to cut-and-run"); and the deterioration of the occupation in 2005 - 06 ultimately led to the Democratic take-over of Congress in 2006, that forced the administration to launch the surge. (True, this is just after the book was published, but the major change in the political winds were quite evident by mid-2006.)
Wars, especially those involving the United States, do not occur in a vacuum. Politics play an influential role in the development and execution of military strategy, as thus should be considered when writing a comprehensive history of any military conflict.
A first rate battlefield history. I confess to be disposed to read about the Bush administration's failure, but in spite of that I thought this was a balanced narrative. One wonders, with the relative current stability in Iraq, if the author's conclusions would still be the same. But, to me this remains a classic treatment of an ill-planned strategically dubious adventure somewhat reminiscent of Anzio.
The message of this book isn't anti-war, or even anti-Iraqi war; rather, it is about how the U.S. has failed to develop and carry out a strategic plan for success there. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz bear the primary responsibility, whose plan for the war assumed U.S. forces would be hailed as liberators and didn't provide for the insurgency that developed following the invasion. This book is well documented; it is a condemnation not the of the original idea of overthrowing Hussein, but of the colossal blunders that put us in the situation in which we now find ourselves. This is a "must read."