The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008

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Overview

Fiasco, Thomas E. Ricks’s #1 New York Times bestseller, transformed the political dialogue on the war in Iraq—The Gamble is the next news breaking installment

Thomas E. Ricks uses hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with top officers in Iraq and extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to document the inside story of the Iraq War since late 2005 as only he can, examining the events that took place as the military was forced to reckon with ...

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Overview

Fiasco, Thomas E. Ricks’s #1 New York Times bestseller, transformed the political dialogue on the war in Iraq—The Gamble is the next news breaking installment

Thomas E. Ricks uses hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with top officers in Iraq and extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to document the inside story of the Iraq War since late 2005 as only he can, examining the events that took place as the military was forced to reckon with itself, the surge was launched, and a very different war began.

Since early 2007 a new military order has directed American strategy. Some top U.S. officials now in Iraq actually opposed the 2003 invasion, and almost all are severely critical of how the war was fought from then through 2006. At the core of the story is General David Petraeus, a military intellectual who has gathered around him an unprecedented number of officers with both combat experience and Ph.D.s. Underscoring his new and unorthodox approach, three of his key advisers are quirky foreigners—an Australian infantryman-turned- anthropologist, an antimilitary British woman who is an expert in the Middle East, and a Mennonite-educated Palestinian pacifist.

The Gamble offers news-breaking account, revealing behind-the-scenes disagreements between top commanders. We learn that almost every single officer in the chain of command fought the surge. Many of Petraeus’s closest advisers went to Iraq extremely pessimistic, doubting that the surge would have any effect, and his own boss was so skeptical that he dispatched an admiral to Baghdad in the summer of 2007 to come up with a strategy to replace Petraeus’s. That same boss later flew to Iraq to try to talk Petraeus out of his planned congressional testimony. The Gamble examines the congressional hearings through the eyes of Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and their views of the questions posed by the 2008 presidential candidates.

For Petraeus, prevailing in Iraq means extending the war. Thomas E. Ricks concludes that the war is likely to last another five to ten years—and that that outcome is a best case scenario. His stunning conclusion, stated in the last line of the book, is that “the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered by us and by the world have not yet happened.”

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The course of the Iraq War took a radical change in 2007. With military intellectual General David Petraeus at the helm, a new, unorthodox strategy generally dubbed "The Surge" emerged despite the resistance of top commanders. In The Gamble, Washington Post senior Pentagon correspondent Thomas E. Ricks utilizes hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with key officers in Iraq and Washington to document this controversial shift in American Middle East policy. The author of Fiasco delivers another major book on the Iraq conflict.
Michiko Kakutani
…powerful and illuminating …Mr. Ricks writes as both an analyst and a reporter with lots of real-time access to the chain of command, and his book's narrative is animated by closely observed descriptions of how the surge worked on the ground, by a savvy knowledge of internal Pentagon politics, and by a keen understanding of the Iraq war's long-term fallout on already strained American forces.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594201974
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/10/2009
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas E. Ricks is The Washington Post's senior Pentagon correspondent, where he has covered the U.S. military since 2000. Until the end of 1999, he held the same beat at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter for seventeen years. A member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams for national reporting, he has reported on U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the author of Making the Corps and A Soldier's Duty.

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Table of Contents

The Gamble Cast of Characters
Acronyms and Abbreviations

Part One: The Old War Ends

1. Things Fall Apart (Fall 2005)
2. How to Fight This War (Fall 2005-Fall 2006)
3. Keane Takes Command (Fall 2006)
4. A Strategy is Born (Winter 2006-7)

Part Two: A New War Begins

5. If You're so Smart . . . (Spring 2007)
6. Gambling on a "Shitty Hand" (Spring and Summer 2007)
7. Signs of Life in Baghdad (Summer 2007)
8. The Domestic Opposition Collapses (Summer and Fall 2007)

Part Three: War Without End

9. The Twilight Zone (Winter 2007-8)
10. Big Wasta (Spring 2008)
11. After the Surge (Summer 2008)
12. Obama's War (Fall 2008)
Epilogue: The Long War

Appendixes
A. Col. Devlin's Intelligence Assessment
B. The Orders Lt. Gen. Odierno Received in December 2006
C. How Odierno Changed the Mission
D. Gen. Petraeus Summarizes How to Operate in Iraq
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 22 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 13, 2009

    This is a fabulous book!

    I will read this book again and again and have ordered every book written by this author. Even for someone not involved in the military, it is absolutely fascinating.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    A well-researched, fascinating book on the Army's win in Iraq

    For those who remember Viet Nam and for every American who wants the USA to win in Iraq, this book is a must. The high-level intrigue is fascinating among the civilian leadership, think tanks, active military, and one notable retired four-star general. We owe a tremendous thank you to a handful of great individuals identified in the book. The book is extrememly well-researched and fast moving.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Sobering Read

    Thomas Ricks' second book on Iraq continues the account he began in Fiasco. He covers the war largely from a military viewpoint in contrast to Bob Woodward, who emphasizes the politics inside Washington.Ricks obviously admires Gen. Petraeus but does not cover over other views of the war and predictions of its aftermath.Some of the most interesting parts of the book are accounts of dissenters like Emma Sky, the British Middle East expert who spent three tours in Iraq and became a trusted advisor to Gen. Odierno. If Ricks does not eventually write a definitive history of the second Iraq war, his writings will be an important source for the author who completes that task.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    The Gamble by Thomas Ricks well worth reading

    This books was well written and enjoyable. Gave me a new prespective of David Petreaus and his involvement in the Surge. Think it would be of interest for all Americans to know this information. Enlightening.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

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    Great Book about a timely subject

    This is a wonderful book for anyone who is interested in the war in Iraq. The book is factual, balanced and shows how we recaptured the initiative with this war, and the possible pitfalls that remain. A good read!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

    very informative

    great book on the strategy behind the surge.

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