Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq

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This compelling book presents an unparalleled record of what happened after U.S. forces seized Baghdad in the spring of 2003. Army Colonel Peter R. Mansoor, the on-the-ground commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division—the “Ready First Combat Team”—describes his brigade’s first year in Iraq, from the sweltering, chaotic summer after the Ba’athists’ defeat to the transfer of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government a year later. Uniquely positioned to observe, record, and assess the events of that fateful year, Mansoor now explains what went right and wrong as the U.S. military confronted an insurgency of unexpected strength and tenacity.

Drawing not only on his own daily combat journal but also on observations by embedded reporters, news reports, combat logs, archived e-mails, and many other sources, Mansoor offers a contemporary record of the valor, motivations, and resolve of the 1st Brigade and its attachments during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yet this book has a deeper significance than a personal memoir or unit history. Baghdad at Sunrise provides a detailed, nuanced analysis of U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Iraq, and along with it critically important lessons for America’s military and political leaders of the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Times - Martin Sieff

"This is a moving, clear, lucid, and extrememly valuable account of midlevel operations in Iraq in the early, crucial stages of the insurgency, with many valuable lessons. . . . As a memoir, Col. Mansoor's book is honest, moving and exceptionally readable."—Martin Sieff, Washington Times
New York Post
Peter Mansoor's extraordinarily valuable Baghdad at Sunrise . . . . is a far better guide to counterinsurgency warfare than the official manual published by the Army and Marines. . . . This book has more intellectual integrity and utility.—Ralph Peters, New York Post

— Ralph Peters

New York Sun
The poetically titled Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq takes discussion of foreign policy down to the nitty-gritty of operational reality.—Benjamin Lytal, New York Sun (Fall Books Preview)

— Benjamin Lytal

Washington Times
This is a moving, clear, lucid, and extrememly valuable account of midlevel operations in Iraq in the early, crucial stages of the insurgency, with many valuable lessons. . . . As a memoir, Col. Mansoor's book is honest, moving and exceptionally readable.—Martin Sieff, Washington Times

— Martin Sieff

New York Post - Ralph Peters

"Peter Mansoor's extraordinarily valuable Baghdad at Sunrise . . . . is a far better guide to counterinsurgency warfare than the official manual published by the Army and Marines. . . . This book has more intellectual integrity and utility."—Ralph Peters, New York Post

New York Sun - Benjamin Lytal

"The poetically titled Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq takes discussion of foreign policy down to the nitty-gritty of operational reality."—Benjamin Lytal, New York Sun (Fall Books Preview)
Bill Murphy Jr.
Mansoor's unflinching new account, Baghdad at Sunrise,…is nearly unique, because his position was rare among military memoirists. An Army colonel is the highest-ranking officer many soldiers will ever meet. He is entrusted with their leadership—and their lives. (During his year-long tour, 24 of Mansoor's soldiers died, and he is careful to mention each.) But stripped of its martial dignity and veneer, Mansoor's account reveals the colonel's role as a middle manager. He tells the story of that fateful first year of the Iraq war from the point of view of one who saw decisions being made at the highest echelons, yet led soldiers in executing those orders day by day. This is a serious book for a serious audience.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

This is a unique contribution to the burgeoning literature on the Iraq war, analyzing the day-to-day performance of a U.S. brigade in Baghdad during 2004-2005. Mansoor uses a broad spectrum of sources to address the military, political and cultural aspects of an operation undertaken with almost no relevant preparation, which tested officers and men to their limits and generated mistakes and misjudgments on a daily basis. The critique is balanced, perceptive and merciless-and Mansoor was the brigade commander. Military history is replete with "command memoirs." Most are more or less self-exculpatory. Even the honest ones rarely achieve this level of analysis. The effect is like watching a surgeon perform an operation on himself. Mansoor has been simultaneously a soldier and a scholar, able to synergize directly his military and academic experiences. He presents an eloquent critique of the armed forces' post-Vietnam neglect of counterinsurgency and makes a strong case for integrating military forces with civilian experts who can aid reconstruction in counterinsurgency operations. Above all, Mansoor reasserts the enduring impact of "fog and friction" on war. There is never an easy solution, he says-or an easy exit. Maps. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Colonel Mansoor was one of the officers who rewrote the counterinsurgency manual at Fort Leavenworth for General Petraeus, based in part on his experiences as a commander. His insights on this chapter of the war make up a crucial part of the history of the campaign. Important for any Iraq collection. [This reviewer oversees the library at Fort Leavenworth but did not undertake direct work for Mansoor and is not personally familiar with him.-Ed.]

—Edwin B. Burgess
Middle East Quarterly - Michael Rubin

"The last twelve pages alone—'reflections'—are worth the priceof the book. . . . Much rides on whether U.S. officials understand the lessons that Mansoor so eloquently lays bare."—Michael Rubin, Middle East Quarterly
Small Wars Journal - Frank Hoffman

"This is an exceptional memoir . . . .Simply stated, it is an impressive account that all prospective brigade, regimental and battalion commanders should read."—Frank Hoffman, Small Wars Journal

City - Jacob Laksin

"A valuable addition to the literature of the war. Mansoor's great strength as an author is his insight into the nature of insurgent warfare in Iraq and the tactics required to defeat it—subjects on which he brings impressive credentials to bear."—Jacob Laksin, City Journal

Wall Street Journal - Mark Moyar

"Col. Mansoor displays the knowledge of a soldier alongside the narrative gifts of a true historian, weaving dramatic events together, capturing the thoughts and emotions of street-level fighters, and describing Iraqi society as it tries to emerge from the maelstrom of war."—Mark Moyar, Wall Street Journal
Washington Post - Bill Murphy

"Mansoor's unflinching new account . . . is nearly unique, because his position was rare among military memoirists. . . . He tells the story of that fateful first year in Iraq from the point of view of one who saw decisions being made at the highest echelons, yet led soldiers in executing those orders day by day."—Bill Murphy, Washington Post
David H. Petraeus

Baghdad at Sunrise is a masterful account of command in counterinsurgency operations. Colonel Peter Mansoor's superb description of his brigade's experiences during our first year in Iraq is a must read for soldiers, scholars, and policymakers alike—and all would do well to examine the lessons he draws from his experiences.”—David H. Petraeus, General, US Army
Frederick W. Kagan

“This book will be read by students at military academies and war colleges for years to come. It also speaks to general readers interested in Iraq, in the voices of our soldiers, and in understanding the problems we faced and those we created, without the hyperbole and politicization of most first-person accounts of the early years of this conflict.”—Frederick W. Kagan, American Enterprise Institute

Conrad Crane

"This is the best personal memoir of the Iraq War that I have seen."—Conrad Crane, lead author of the Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency
H. R. McMaster

“A moving, insightful, and unique account of a combat brigade's experience in Iraq crafted by a gifted soldier-historian—a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the U.S. military is coping with counterinsurgency warfare in the 21st century.”—H. R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam
Thomas E. Ricks

"The Iraq war has produced many good books by sergeants and lieutenants, but few notable memoirs by senior officers. Finally, in Baghdad at Sunrise, Colonel Mansoor gives us an account of a year's combat in the Iraqi capital as seen by a brigade commander. What's more, he brings the eye of a trained historian to the task. He is candid about both the successes and the failures of the U.S. military. Read it."—Thomas E. Ricks, military correspondent, The Washington Post, and author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
Wiliamson Murray

“Colonel Mansoor has provided us with an exceptional memoir from mid-level of the tragic course of post-conflict operations in Iraq. It represents an account by a first-rate soldier and perceptive historian that is a must read for anyone interested in what really happened.”—Williamson Murray, author of A War To Be Won: Fighting the Second World War


"In reportage that crackles with the gunfire of street fighting, then segues into candid reflections on America's military doctrines and policies, Mansoor draws readers directly into the tension of the Iraqi conflict. . . . A sober and balanced perspective."—Booklist (starred review)
Bookforum - Douglas Porch

"Mansoor won a prestigious military-history award for his book The GI Offensive in Europe. Baghdad at Sunrise seems all but certain to net him another."—Douglas Porch, Bookforum
Military Review - COL Gregory Fontenot

". . . good literature and good history. . . . [Mansoor's] style is crisp, clear, and understated. . . . He tells his story from his viewpoint without judging others in the absence of unimpeachable evidence, and even then, lets the reader draw his own conclusions."—COL Gregory Fontenot, Military Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300158472
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Series: Yale Library of Military History
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 887,867
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter R. Mansoor is the General Raymond Mason Chair of Military History, Ohio State University. A recently retired U.S. Army colonel, he served as executive officer to Commanding General David H. Petraeus, Multi-National Force–Iraq (2007–8); as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategy Group that proposed the surge strategy in Iraq (2006); as founding director of the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center (2006); and as Commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, in Baghdad (2003–4). He lives in Columbus, OH.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps     ix
Foreword   Donald Kagan   Frederick Kagan     xi
Preface     xv
Acknowledgments     xxiii
List of Abbreviations     xxv
Prologue: Adhamiya, April 7, 2004     1
Baghdad     7
Rusafa     33
"Bad Karmah"     85
Palm Groves and Blast Barriers     114
Ramadan     155
Adhamiya     188
New Year's Interlude     232
Winter in the Desert     242
Uprisings     277
Karbala     304
Transfer of Sovereignty     334
Reflections     341
Epilogue     353
E-mail to Dr. Conrad Crane, July 12, 2003     355
Notes     359
Index     367
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Interviews & Essays

A conversation with Peter Mansoor...

Q: Why did you decide to write a book about your experiences in Iraq?

A: My intention early on was to keep a daily journal as a personal memoir for my family.  After some reflection, I decided that a book-length manuscript could fill a broader need by explaining what went right and wrong in Iraq during the crucial first year after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. A significant void exists in the history of the war, a genre currently filled by works written by reporters and senior public figures on the one hand, and personal memoirs written by relatively junior officers and soldiers on the other. By explaining the conflict from the perspective of a senior commander who served in Iraq, Baghdad at Sunrise fills a critical gap in the public’s understanding of the war.

Q: What unique perspectives do you bring to the history of the Iraq War?

A: My role as a brigade combat team commander has given me a unique perspective on and key insight into the execution of counterinsurgency operations. Iraq is in many important respects a brigade commander’s war. My position gave me a glimpse into the workings of strategic decision-making in the Green Zone, along with a visceral feel for what was happening on the streets of Baghdad. My education as a historian helped me to put the events I witnessed into perspective and to understand their significance in the broader sweep of time.

Q: What impact do you hope Baghdad at Sunrise will have?

A: My goal in writing Baghdad at Sunrise was to give the public a better idea of what happened on the ground in Iraq in the year after the fall of Baghdad, along with providing lessons for the future as the United States and its allies continue the struggle in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. A lot has been written about our political and strategic failings, but the story of U.S. Army operations in Iraq has been told mainly through the eyes of people outside the institution. My hope is that the book is also a good read—not just a story worth telling, but a story well told.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A story of combat from a senior commander's tour.

    Baghdad at Sunrise is the story of Colonel Mansoor's tour of duty in Iraq. He commanded the First Ready Combat Team in Iraq following a few months after the fall of Baghdad in 2003 through 2004.
    Some of the good things about the book are its unique perspective from Iraq. Many books detail the ground soldiers struggle and being a veteran myself I know these types of stories pretty inimately. This book tells many of those stories but also of Colonel Monsoor's trials and tribulations at a more senior level and he presents in a manner that is now always flaturing, admitting to his mistakes as well as his triumphs.
    The book gives a good deal of information as to how the insurgency developed and gained some speed and the problems from our side in attempting to combat it. He further offers how we can, in the future, develop strategies to combat insurgencies in future combat operations.
    The only parts I found to be tedious about the book where some redundancies. He constantly refered to going to neighborhood advisory meetings in Baghdad that leveled positive dialouge between himself and the local Iraqis, yet doesn't often go indepth.
    Over all this book is an excellent inclusion to anyone seeking to understand the war in Iraq in a better, more broad terms following the fall of Baghdad and the growth of insurgency. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

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