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Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier's Perspective

Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier's Perspective

4.9 7
by Paul Rieckhoff

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As a First Lieutenant and Infantry Platoon Leader for the U.S. Army National Guard, Paul Rieckhoff was charged with leading thirty-eight men in Iraq. He spent almost a year in one of the bloodiest and most volatile areas of Baghdad. And when he finally came home, he vowed to tell Americans the harrowing truth. He does just that, uncensored and unrehearsed, "and with


As a First Lieutenant and Infantry Platoon Leader for the U.S. Army National Guard, Paul Rieckhoff was charged with leading thirty-eight men in Iraq. He spent almost a year in one of the bloodiest and most volatile areas of Baghdad. And when he finally came home, he vowed to tell Americans the harrowing truth. He does just that, uncensored and unrehearsed, "and with wit and passion" (Arianna Huffington), in Chasing Ghosts-the first criticism of the Iraq war written by a soldier who fought in it.

Editorial Reviews

It was only logical that Paul Rieckhoff would volunteer for combat in Iraq. His father and grandfather had served in Vietnam and World War II, respectively. What he saw after he arrived in Baghdad, however, shook him to his patriotic core. American forces were undermanned and ill equipped; humanitarian aid was nowhere in sight; and post-"Mission Accomplished" planning seemed virtually nonexistent. The situation grew even worse after the Iraqi army was disbanded. His ten-month assignment served as a conversion experience; when he returned, Rieckhoff formed the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a pro-soldier group dedicated to examining the realities of the conflicts. In Chasing Ghosts, this now reluctant warrior describes his long road home.
Washington Post
...his straightforward style comes across as honest and underscores the earnestness of his attempt to wrest back from the Bush administration his cherished conception of America.
Publishers Weekly
An Operation Iraqi Freedom vet and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Rieckhoff recounts his journey from National Guard lieutenant to disillusioned patriot in this disappointing combat memoir-cum-polemic. Rieckhoff admits that he thought the reasons for invading Iraq were "bullshit," but volunteered to go anyway. His experiences in Iraq-patrolling the chaotic streets of Baghdad in the months after its occupation-only confirmed his initial judgment that the invasion "was one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in our nation's history." Rieckhoff is anything but humble. An Amherst grad (as he often interjects), he finds his recruiter repellant-a "slick, fat... Sergeant [who] smelled like a dirty ashtray"- but enlists anyway. President Bush is "arrogant" and "a bully," and Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer is "ignorant and out-of-touch." Rieckhoff is bipartisan in his contempt: when the Kerry campaign ignores his advice, he dismisses the Democratic presidential candidate as "a calculating and coached politician." Finally, he and a "small band of pissed-off visionaries" founded their own organization, Operation Truth, to get out the word. In the end, Rieckhoff has a story to tell, but he undermines his credibility with his arrogance and petty offside remarks. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Rieckhoff, a lieutenant and infantry platoon leader for the National Guard, starts his chronicle on a civilian 747 bound for Iraq two weeks after the U.S. invasion. He writes his somewhat angry but undeniably proud narrative with the intent to show us the circumstances in Iraq from a soldier's perspective. We see Rieckhoff leading his squad through its complex duties and how he worried about the tide of good will turning on his men. Outdated equipment, a lack of supplies, and little advance training in urban combat or Arab customs cause frustration. Wanting to make changes once he was home, Rieckhoff tried to reach out to both political parties. Although he issued the Democratic response to one of President Bush's radio addresses a year ago, he remains politically independent. He was also instrumental in forming a grassroots organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, to support and speak for his fellow veterans. His book is recommended for all public libraries.-Nancy Larrabee, Greenburgh P.L., Elmsford, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Gideon Yago
An honest, electric memoir.
Richard Clark
Rieckhoff's rage is the anger of a patriot.
Arianna Huffington
A book that all Americans who care about their country should read.
Max Cleland
This book hit me in the gut.... It is full of courage, GI talk, humor and pure patriotism.
Chuck D
Paul Rieckhoff is a human being of true substance and character.

Meet the Author

Paul Rieckhoff is the executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) (formerly Operation Truth), the first and largest organization for veterans of the War on Terror. During his time in the Adamiyah section of central Baghdad, he led his light infantry platoon on hundreds of combat patrols with the 3rd Infantry and 1st Armored Divisions. He continues to serve his country as an Infantry Officer in the New York Army National Guard.

Rieckhoff is a nationally recognized authority on the war in Iraq and issues affecting our troops, military families, and veterans at home. He is a frequent TV and radio commentator and has appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, FOX’s Hannity & Colmes, NBC Nightly News, 60 Minutes II, CNN’s Paula Zahn Now, ABC’s World News Tonight, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Air America’s Al Franken Show, and NPR’s All Things Considered, among many other programs. He and IAVA have also been featured across the country in numerous major national newspapers and magazines. He was named one of “America’s Best and Brightest of 2004” by Esquire. On May 1, 2004, in a spot normally reserved for governors and senators, Rieckhoff delivered the Democratic response to President Bush’s national weekly radio address.

Prior to his deployment to Iraq, Rieckhoff worked as a high school football coach and an investment banking analyst on Wall Street, and later spent several weeks contributing to the rescue effort at Ground Zero after 9/11. He is a graduate of Amherst College, where he studied political science. He lives in New York City’s East Village.

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Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier's Perspective 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As the war in Iraq has wound down the past few years, I have nit really thought about it very much. But when it started, I remember telling everyone how screwed up it was handled and how the mismanagement was of epic proportions. When the insurgency was just starting and everyone was running a round quoting how the war was over and those were just bandits, I knew they were sadly mistaken and this thing was going to go one for years. Eight years later is it still going on and this book goes a long way to explaining WHY! This book cover a lot of themes that are frankly reoccurring in every war the USA fights, and probably for all militaries. This is a good book for the average reader to place themselves in the mindset of a platoon commander out where the rubber meets the road and all the various problems he is expected to overcome without much support. That part is very telling, sad and all too common.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am the mother of an Iraq veteran and infantry soldier. This book helped me understand so many things that my son could not share with me. I have a much deeper understanding and a deeper appreciation for our men and women in the military. I applaud Paul for his raw honesty. This book is intense, emotional, funny at times but also made my heart just ache at times. It clicked for me, because I am a true supporter of our military. I am a hardcore Army MOM, however I struggled with what this war was really about. Thank you Paul and Thank You B Company. For your service and your sacrifices.
Z-Core More than 1 year ago
What would you get if you mixed modern day warfare, a patriotic American, and a conspiracy? You'd get Chasing Ghosts. This novel is about the author's experience in the war over in Iraq, he tells about his troubles and hardships he faced while over there, from oppressive heat, to the inability for the military to ship him home. It's full of rough military talk, and dirty humor, but it also has moments that will tug at your heart. The book follows a soldier by the name of Paul Rieckhoff, and his ordeal in Iraq, he tells about his fight on the frontlines, as well as on the home-front. He tells in great detail about the lack of equipment and the Vietnam war equipment that their forced to use, and the horrors of war that the people must face along with the soldiers. It's a dark tale with plenty of humor to keep you hooked, if you want to know what's going on in the war this book is a definite read, it shows how our country will fight for what we want; oil. He tells how soldiers are just pawns in the grand view of the war and how they have little say over the goings of with the war, and how you have to fight to just have your voice heard. With its action, humor, and tragedy; this book is one for the ages
SydneeGr More than 1 year ago
After I read this book I had to meet Paul. Once I got to speak with him I realized he is one of the most humble men of our time. I would not set this book down..I even fell asleep with it open on my bed. It's addicting to hear the real story of the war..every scared moment to every tear. If you are tired of hearing the news' side to the war and only knowing what they want you to know, read this book. It is definitely worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is MUST READ for all Americans!
Guest More than 1 year ago
So many people call themselves a 'patriot,' yet they blindly follow their leader into a meaningless, endless, unprovoked war for oil. Patriotism is about questioning the government and its decisions. It's about speaking out on behalf of your fellow man. Rieckhoff's book is an insider's account, a soldier's account, of the Iraq war. It seethes with anger at the mishandling of the war. It questions the thought processes, or lack thereof, that led to sending brave men and women to their deaths without proper equipment and proper strategy. The book is not a political statement, but a firsthand account from the trenches. Rieckhoff is no liberal muckracker. He is just a soldier fed up with the carelessness this administration has shown with the lives of thousands of sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and friends. It is a gripping, intense and eye-opening read from cover to cover.