Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005

by Thomas E. Ricks

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143038917
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/31/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 320,194
Product dimensions: 5.97(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.09(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Thomas E. Ricks is an adviser on national security at the New America Foundation, where he participates in its “Future of War” project. He was previously a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the prizewinning blog The Best Defense. Ricks covered the U.S. military for The Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. Until the end of 1999 he had the same beat at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter for seventeen years. A member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, he covered U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the author of several books, including The Generals, The Gamble, and the number one New York Times bestseller Fiasco, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His newest book, Churchill and Orwell: The Fight For Freedom, is a New York Times bestseller.

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From the Publisher

"Staggeringly vivid and persuasive . . . absolutely essential reading."
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"The best account yet of the entire war."
-Vanity Fair

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Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thomas Ricks writes an excellent book taking a braod view and very neatly breaking down the salient issues of the Iraq War. The book takes a top-down approach. Those looking for low level perspective won't find it in this book although Ricks does include some insights from troops-in-the-ranks level. His view is decidedly liberal in that he advocates for leaving Iraq and painting the war as a mistake. Ricks assails the Bush Administration policy very well. However, this is only part of the story and does not delve into what the Army and Marine Corps senior commands in Iraq are doing to address the shortcomings of the Rumsfeld Department of Defense policies. This is a useful book to gather information. It's gretest flaw is that it's long on criticism and very short on offering better solutions. Any reader serious about studying the Iraq War needs to give this book a read. The book has great reasearch value.
jcbrunner on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Fiasco is not a bad book, it is a dangerous book. Its excellent readability sucks an unsuspecting reader into accepting extremely questionable and biased assessments of the past, of politicians, military institutions and soldiers. The Iraq War was a fiasco but Ricks' analysis stops at the surface.First, the book is highly biased. Ricks only quotes people to the right of the conservative-in-the-orginal-meaning Andrew Bacevich (the only exception is Juan Cole who is allowed to offer two factual inputs.). Much of the original controversies are simply air-brushed out of the picture. Ricks' primary mission is to shield his friends from criticism. There are various circles of friends, starting with the Washington Post and other print titles, the US Marines, the US army, the US army reserves, the United States of America, allies of the United States of America and the rest of the world. If the story absolutely, positively requires Ricks to point fingers at some of his friends, the circle concept comes into play, e.g. the New York Times' Judith Miller is offered as a scapegoat, nicely diluting the equally unprofessional cheer-leading of Ricks' own paper.Secondly, the book assumes readers with ADD both in regard to external facts and to the text itself. An example of a non-mentioned fact: "This new emphasis (on the operational level) also was meant to address what the Army had decided was a major failing during the Vietnam War" (p. 131). It is beside the point that I do not agree with this analysis that Vietnam was an operational failure, the important fact is that this analysis leaves out what came to be known as the Powell Doctrine ("Do we have a clear attainable objective? Is there a plausible exit strategy?"), which itself was based on the Weinberger Doctrine compiling the lessons of the Vietnam War. If the US had made sure to answer the questions of either doctrine, the quagmire might never have happened."Petraeus, now at Fort Leavenworth, ... made the thousands of Army officers who were students there also begin to study this peculiar way of war (ie COIN), so unlike what the U.S. Army had studied for the previous three decades" (p. 414), conveniently ignoring all the published lessons of Somalia, Kosovo, ... (such as the vulnerability of helicopters in close terrain). Ricks' faulty memory approach lets the US military off the hook far too easily.Thirdly, this book, like so many others, plays down US war crimes. While Ricks presents many clear cases of war crimes, he hardly ever comments or discusses these cases. He simply notes that the US military justices sends the criminals home (fining them all of USD 5.000 for murder, if they prosecute at all) where they live happy lives as high school teachers. Remedial lessons about the Geneva conventions and the laws of war should be a high priority for any US unit. Can it really be a lessons learned that treating civilians with dignity is good?Fourth, the book establishes easy scapegoats in Rumsfeld, Chalabi and those Neo-Cons. The failure and incompetence of the military-industrial complex runs much deeper. Within Ricks' cherished Marine Corps, the Warrior ethos is to blame with its COIN-unsuitable world-view. Generals such as James "It's fun to shoot some people" Mattis are part of the problem and the destruction of Fallujah the consequence of their actions.If the book's purpose is to have the military-industrial complex rethink and refine its approach, it has failed. If entertainment and glorification of Ricks' circle of friends is its purpose, it succeeds.
Tullius22 on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Ricks describes the beginnings--the early years, you might say-- of the American military's tragic experience in Iraq with unmatched skill and insight. (10/10)
J.v.d.A. on LibraryThing 3 months ago
If this doesn't demonstrate the absolute criminality of the invasion and the utter failure and meaninglessness of the subsequent occupation then I don't know what will.
BigSix More than 1 year ago
Finishing up this book. Well researched, a good behind-the-scenes look the war from a DoD perspective. Lots of quotes from boots-on-the-ground generals frustrated with the way the government formulated it's (lack of) strategy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are truly prepared to be frustrated with knowing exactly how incompetent the Bush administration was then this is the book for you. Way before the invasion of Iraq was launched I knew it was going to be a terrible idea. This book only confirmed my belief of that time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ALL wars are full of mistakes. The greater tragedy is men pay with their lives. The author in his insatiable Bush derangement syndrome lists mistakes upon mistakes with no explanation why they occured, the conditions/that contributed to them or how toavoid them in the future. In short, long on facts and short on analysis. Not recommended for the individual trying to understand history or avoid mistakes. Absolute must read for those interested in scoring political points and sounding intelligent while bashing another party or individual.
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warpig3 More than 1 year ago
If one is to be honest, especially those in the military and the department of defence, we have to admit that we made mistakes in the beginning. Thomas E. Ricks, is an individual who has said things that many of us privately thought but never spoke up. There were a series of mistakes and miscalculations, from training and preparedness, to the realistic expectations of what would once we invaded and won. I'm usuually skeptical about topics like this and was looking for some bias or slant to support those against the war; but to my surprise it really spoke to more of the unspoken truth and say the things that needed to be said. I look forward to reading the follow up "The Gamble" about the surge written by Thomas E. Ricks as well.
History_buffRH More than 1 year ago
The book is mostly for learning purposes unless, like me, you find personal interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a 'must read' if you are going to understand the 'behind the scenes' working of the minds & people - what they thought, how they behaved and why we are where we are today. An example: A very highly ranked women said: "I knew there were 500 ways to do it wrong. Who knew they would go do all 500 of them" A fascinating, spellbinding, hugely researched account. Democrats and Republicans absolutely should read this if they are going know anything besides 'the spin'.. Susan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent history of the early invasion of Iraq. It is not very speciffic and focuses on a long period of time instead of individual events. I think everyone in the military should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Steve869 More than 1 year ago
As an Army veteran of the war in Iraq (2004-2005) I can say I was very impressed with this book, very accurate in it's description of the combat that took place and it is a scathing look at the incompetance and lack of planning by the Bush administration and the Pentagon, all Americans should read this book if they want a real version of what happened during the first part of the war, it will change a lot of minds and prove that Bush/Cheney/ Rumsfeld had no idea what they were getting into or even what they were doing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's fascinating that one can walk into a B&N today and buy a 'counterinsurgency' manual, as if we too, can become instant armchair experts in what's really counterintuitive warfare - that for hearts and minds rather than merely blood. Though a non-military combat reporter, Ricks understands far better than anyone in Washington the subtle differences. Another who understood is General Petraeus, who for better or worse, was originally sent back from Iraq to Leavenworth to reacquaint Army leadership with counterinsurgency doctrine. Among other things, Ricks discusses how various ground units fared, and how Petraeus' tactics and local politics differed from the sheer brute-force employed by other commanders. This book hit the shelves at about the same time military personnel, through their own service newspapers, began expressing disgust with the politicians' campaign. While 'counterinsurgency' became the media's new buzzword, Rumsfeld was soon out at the Pentagon, and Petraeus in command Over There. Bush's 'surge' may be working, or at temporarily alleviating the situation, but it's not merely because of numbers. A leader who told the media years earlier, 'I like Iraqis, I really do,' is finally where he should be and those who could only do further harm to our troops now have careers elsewhere. Together with our service men and women speaking up, I believe Fiasco was one of the last straws that accomplished some necessary regime change at home. Though still horrific, the levels of violence and casualties in Iraq has ebbed, and though we won't know which, there will be Americans coming home, with their eyes and limbs, and Iraqis surviving to hopefully shape their country, thanks in part to Ricks' work.