A solid chronicle of the Iraq War, emphasizing military maneuvers and Iraqi participation at all levels.
Co-authors of previous military histories (Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, 2006, etc.), chief military correspondent Gordon and former Marine Corps lieutenant general Trainor fashion a meticulous record of the nine years of conflict between the “inside-out” versus “outside-in” strategies of the U.S. government in dealing with Iraqi intransigence and conversion to democracy. The authors build a deliberate, chronological construction of events. From 2003, when President George W. Bush’s administration embraced the invasion of Iraq as part of a multipronged “freedom agenda,” to 2011, when President Barack Obama resolved to extricate the U.S. from the unpopular military exigencies, the government grappled with balancing the urgency for stability by military means and the need to bolster the Iraqis’ own system of government and security. Despite the wealth of resources, materiel and advisers injected into the invasion effort, the provisional government that Jerry Bremer III put in place was not functioning within a few weeks and an insurgency was gaining hold, often killing American troops. The authors take great pains to delineate the makeup of the Iraqi government in the prickly transition to sovereignty. For generals from Casey to Petraeus, one fixer to the next, “the specter of Vietnam had haunted the American military for so long that it was hard to imagine that anything good might have come out of the war.” The authors, with their combined military experience, try to find those salvaging glimmers.
A straightforward, evenhanded account of the nine-year slog that began as a “war of choice” and became “a war of necessity.”