Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War

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Surge is an insider’s view of the most decisive phase of the Iraq War. After exploring the dynamics of the war during its first three years, the book takes the reader on a journey to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where the controversial new U.S. Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency doctrine was developed; to Washington, D.C., and the halls of the Pentagon, where the Joint Chiefs of Staff struggled to understand the conflict; to the streets of Baghdad, where soldiers worked to implement the surge and reenergize the...

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Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War

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Surge is an insider’s view of the most decisive phase of the Iraq War. After exploring the dynamics of the war during its first three years, the book takes the reader on a journey to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where the controversial new U.S. Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency doctrine was developed; to Washington, D.C., and the halls of the Pentagon, where the Joint Chiefs of Staff struggled to understand the conflict; to the streets of Baghdad, where soldiers worked to implement the surge and reenergize the flagging war effort before the Iraqi state splintered; and to the halls of Congress, where Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus testified in some of the most contentious hearings in recent memory.

Using newly declassified documents, unpublished manuscripts, interviews, author notes, and published sources, Surge explains how President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Ambassador Crocker, General Petraeus, and other U.S. and Iraqi political and military leaders shaped the surge from the center of the maelstrom in Baghdad and Washington.

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Editorial Reviews

Conrad Crane

“By far the best account of the decisive campaign of the Iraq War, and the conduct of modern American counterinsurgency, and also the best account anywhere about the inner workings of contemporary Iraqi politics. This book will remain the seminal work on this important part of the American experience in Iraq for many years.”—Conrad Crane, lead author of Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency
Dennis Showalter

"Few—VERY few—studies of military operations are authored by someone who combines the qualities of an outstanding scholar with the experience of having been the commanding general's executive officer. Mansoor tells the story of a very rare type of military operation: creating victory in the context not merely of ongoing defeat but imminent catastrophe. And he tells it like a scholar: no hero-worship, no pointing with pride and viewing with alarm."—Dennis Showalter, author of Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century
H. R. McMaster

“Peter Mansoor has shed fresh light and understanding on the U.S. experience in Iraq, illuminating war’s political nature as well as its human and psychological dimensions. Surge is a story of adaptation, which highlights the importance of continuously assessing complex situations and acting to seize and retain the initiative. It will be thought-provoking not only to all interested in the Iraq War, but also to those interested in how to lead change in large organizations and enterprises.”—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

“This is one of the best books to emerge from the Iraq War. I expect it will be remembered as one of the most insightful accounts from an insider of the key ‘surge’ phase of that conflict. The chapter on the Sunni Awakening especially stands out as a terrific overview of that critical development.”—Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco, The Gamble and The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today
JM Northern Media LLC - Southern California Book Festival

Runner-up for the 2013 Southern California Book Festival, in the Biography/Autobiography category, sponored by JM Northern Media LLC.
Wall Street Journal - Max Boot

"The definitive account. . . . A fascinating combination of grand strategy and personal vignettes."—Max Boot, Wall Street Journal
War on the Rocks blog

"Scholars of military history and students of national security affairs will find Surge an invaluable resource. The book is highly readable despite its impressive scholarship and sourcing, and benefits from its author’s professional training as an historian and his rigorous analytical approach . . . . No one seriously interested in the complexities of strategic thinking in general or this conflict, and America’s ongoing struggle to coherently link its policy aims to actionable plans, can overlook Mansoor’s analysis or conclusions."—War on the Rocks blog
JM Northern Media LLC - Los Angeles Book Festival

Won a Honorable Mention for the 2014 Los Angeles Book Festival in the General Non-Fiction Category.
The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation - Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History

Finalist for the 2013 Guggenheim-Prize in Military History.
Michigan War Studies Review - Mark Kukis
"Indispensable. . . . Surge should be in any serious reader's short stack of books on the war in Iraq."—Mark Kukis, Michigan War Studies Review
Library Journal
Mansoor (military history, Ohio State Univ.), a retired U.S. Army colonel, was Gen. David Petraeus's executive officer during the surge (2007–08) about which he writes. In short, he provides an insider's account of one of the most controversial and hotly debated strategies adopted by George W. Bush's administration in its conduct of the Iraq War. The "surge strategy" involved the introduction of some 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq in order to stem the tide of violence in that country which was teetering on the verge of collapse. Mansoor had intimate knowledge of the war's strategy. Relying on his personal knowledge as well as an array of declassified primary sources, interviews, unpublished manuscripts, and published secondary sources, he offers the most detailed report of the policy process and implementation of the surge counterinsurgency operations in Iraq. VERDICT The book is generally an upbeat analysis of the surge. Its central thesis that the surge was a successful strategy can certainly be challenged in view of continuing violence and mayhem in Iraq today. Nonetheless, this is a useful source for those interested in studying the inner thinking of U.S. military planners during the Iraq War.—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile
Kirkus Reviews
Deeply controversial at the time, the surge ended up being the most successful phase of the Iraq War, according to one of its architects. Mansoor (Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq, 2008), a military historian who served as Gen. David Petraeus' executive officer in Iraq, gives an insider's account of the political machinations and boots-on-the-ground strategies behind the rapid increase in troop numbers in 2007. Lamenting "[t]he misinformation and ignorance--among the general public, in the historical community, within the halls of government and even in the military," surrounding the surge, the author makes a convincing case for its efficacy at facilitating at least "the creation of a patchwork of localized political accommodations and then the stitching together of these patches into a larger reconciliation between the sects." The author reveals the thinking that went into one of the key inflection points of the war, aided by his intimate familiarity with the key players in both Washington, D.C., and Baghdad and his experience with soldiers on the front lines. Mansoor portrays Petraeus as a capable and dedicated strategist and manager who was nevertheless unprepared for the dire political realities of Iraq; he was shocked when, at a welcome dinner in his honor, two of the country's senior leaders nearly came to blows. Though he defends the surge as a huge success both militarily and politically, Mansoor is less sanguine about the current prospects for Iraq: "That the subsequent history…has not turned out to be as peaceful nor as politically productive as one would have hoped has had more to do with how U.S. policy makers and their Iraqi counterparts fumbled the political endgame than with the concept or military outcome of the surge itself." Lively and vivid. Recommended for readers with an interest in military history and strategy or the challenges of nation building.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300172355
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Series: Yale Library of Military History Series
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 231,109
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter R. Mansoor is the General Raymond E. Mason, Jr. Chair of Military History, The Ohio State University, and a retired U.S. Army colonel. He lives in Dublin, OH.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Author Peter Mansoor is a Prof. of Military History at OSU, West

    Author Peter Mansoor is a Prof. of Military History at OSU, West Pointer, and former X.O. to Gen David H. Petraeus (DHP) during the Surge in Iraq in 2007. This book recounts in detail the pre-Surge, Surge, and post-Surge mission in Iraq with an insider's knowledge of what really went on. Each chapter written was checked for accuracy by DHP. A Foreword by DHP serves as an overview and outline for the chapters that follow. So it is really a dual-authored book. Mansoor enjoys a bond with DHP and his perspective is pro-DHP throughout the book. This book proves the Surge was 'hard all the time' just as 'Iraq is hard all the time'. DHP encountered a Sunni majority ruled by a Shia (al-Maliki), bitterness over the MNF-I 'control' of Iraq, no infrastructure, huge unemployment due to Bremer's earlier 'de'Baathing' of armed services, U.S. intraservice rivalry, Rumsfeld and Feith with feet fixed in place, al-Qaeda taking advantage of the destroyed country, multiple 'advisors' in task forces, civilian councils such as AEI, Senator McCain, and President Bush who took personal charge of the war late. But DHP and Team Petraeus turned an impossible situation around, preventing the U.S. from losing the war. This book with its step-by-step accounting of that process is requisite reading for junior officers in U.S. armed forces, Poli Sci majors, Foreign Service officers, MHQ and Military History buffs, and International Relations students. The detail may be too much for casual military history readers.

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