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.