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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

4.8 11
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
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Penguin Group
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1 MB
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: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a brilliantly written book that describes, in bluntly accurate and contemporay style, what our combat troops see and feel while in Iraq. It also describes the hardships they must endure serving our country far away from home. The author should get a book award for this one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
LT. Reickhoff is a Patriot. He went to Iraq to do a job, and he did the best that he could, despite both the horrors of war and the indifference from all those who were supposed to be supporting him. His (justified) bitterness is not only toward the incorrect info that led us to this war, but also a society that appears to have largely forgotten about those who returned from Iraq only to face new challenges in putting their own lives back together. Reickhoff is a Real American Hero-for his actions abroad AND at home. This book should be Required Reading for everyone who supported going into Iraq from the safety and comfort of their living rooms.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful, well written, obviously true story from a soldier who was not afraid to tell the truth of what is really happening in Iraq. I give him a tremendous amount of credit for his candid portrayal of what is really going on there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I received a review copy of this book and was blown away by it. It really opened my eyes to what's going on over in Iraq. Rieckhoff gives a gritty account of the conditions the American soldiers are facing over there, and it's not pretty. It's a powerful book and a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
On May 1, 2003, President Bush announced an end to major combat operations in Iraq. That very same day, Paul Rieckhoff and thirty-eight US soldiers under his command were ordered into Baghdad. Ten months later, thirty-seven of them left. And now, two years after coming home, Rieckoff has written an honest, blunt and highly accessible account of his experiences. _Chasing Ghosts_ will terrify and nauseate you, piss you off and give you hope. It reads like _The Things They Carried_, and Rieckhoff may well be this generation¿s Tim O¿Brien. I don¿t say that lightly. If you are a soldier headed to Baghdad, _Chasing Ghosts_ will let you know what to expect. If you are a policymaker, this book will tell you what mistakes have been made, and how some of them may yet be solved. If you¿re a civilian, this book will give you a street-to-street view of what life is like in post-invasion Iraq. Spoiler: it¿s not pretty. Whoever you are, and whatever your stance vis-à-vis this war, you should read _Chasing Ghosts_. This book will change you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rieckhoff¿s `Chasing Ghosts¿ is about the Truth. The truth of what it was really like leading a platoon of 38 men during the occupation of Baghdad ¿ after the president declared ¿Mission Accomplished¿. The truth of how politicians are running the war instead of generals ¿ leaving our troops under-manned, under-equipped and inadequately supported. Rieckhoff¿s recounting of events is written in a true soldier¿s style ¿ matter of fact, gritty and unabridged. He tells what it was like getting through the day-to-day, their humanitarian efforts, moments of sheer terror during fire fights, searching buildings, going on patrols with insurgents shooting at them and the ever present roadside bombs and mines. He puts you right there in Baghdad with the 3ID. You feel the grittiness of the ever present sand, smell the sweat, experience their frustrations, and feel the fear and anger during times of action. When Rieckhoff finally returns home, he finds that re-adjusting to civilian life a real challenge ¿ hating people for their normalcy and angered that no one seems aware that there¿s a war on where young American men and women are dying every day. He feels that the government treats our soldiers as something expendable, and has not been truthful with the American people about the war. He calls the government to task ¿ starting with the President himself. I¿ve learned more about the war in Iraq from reading `Chasing Ghosts¿ than I have watching and hearing what our politicians and media have been feeding us for the past three years. If you want a real inside look of what is happening in Iraq, our governments approach to it and our military system - read Paul Reickhoff¿s `Chasing Ghosts¿.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. A true day to day account of one soldiers fight 'from Baghdad to Washington'. AND, he is still fighting. Paul Rieckhoff is a young, valiant American fighting for soldiers rights. God Bless Him!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Paul Rieckhoff's, Chasing Ghost, will overwhelm reader's senses with his brutal honesty about his tour of duty in Iraq. He and his troops are in a war which has been long forgotten by the American people moreover, the US Government. A war justified for all the wrong reasons. With outdated equipment, the lack of supplies, inferior intelligence information from both the locals and superior officers along with trying to understand a culture so different than any of his men have ever seen, it becomes a minute-by-minute battle of their own to stay alive and survive while trying to protect the citizens of Baghdad. Lieutenant Paul Rieckhoff's battle is not just against the enemy, but also with his superior¿s. His simple and logical requests continue to be ignored. His experiences in Iraq follow him home. Paul Rieckhoff's cannot ignore what he left behind and what is still going on in Iraq, so he begins to speak out. Not against war, but about the trust he had in our government when he volunteered to go to Iraq and the politics for why this war is still ongoing and forgotten. However, Paul Rieckhoff's book will not let us forget about this war. He speaks for so many, even the veterans returning for the forgotten war. If one truly wants to know what is really going on in Iraq, then read: Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington. Paul Rieckhoff is the founder of IAVA.org - an organization to support U.S. veterans of the Afghan and Iraq. He frequently writes for online for Huffingtonpost.com and is dedicated to revising old school politics and keeping the war in Iraq in the forefront so Americans will not forget our soldiers are still in Iraq . . . chasing ghosts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chasing Ghosts is an insightful look into what American soldiers are dealing with on a day to day basis fighting in Iraq. It is a first hand description of how misguided President Bush was in going into war, and his deception to the American people regarding his reasons for war. Paul Rieckhoff offer us a glimpse into a war that the media doesn't offer. This book is for anyone, regardless of their position on Iraq, to gain a better understanding of what our troops are dealing with.