Fiasco

  • by Thomas E. Ricks
  • Narrated by James Lurie
  • 10 hrs and 18 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post senior Pentagon correspondant Thomas E. Ricks' Fiasco is masterful and explosive reckoning with the planning and execution of the American military invasion and occupation of Iraq, based on the unprecedented candor of key participants. The American military is a tightly sealed community, and few outsiders have reason to know that a great many senior officers view the Iraq war with incredulity and dismay. But many officers have shared their anger with renowned military reporter Thomas E. Ricks, and in Fiasco, Ricks combines these astonishing on-the-record military accounts with his own extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to create a spellbinding account of an epic disaster. As many in the military publicly acknowledge here for the first time, the guerrilla insurgency that exploded several months after Saddam's fall was not foreordained. In fact, to a shocking degree, it was created by the folly of the war's architects. But the officers who did raise their voices against the miscalculations, shortsightedness, and general failure of the war effort were generally crushed, their careers often ended. A willful blindness gripped political and military leaders, and dissent was not tolerated. There are a number of heroes in Fiasco; inspiring leaders from the highest levels of the Army and Marine hierarchies to the men and women whose skill and bravery led to battlefield success in towns from Fallujah to Tall Afar, but again and again, strategic incoherence rendered tactical success meaningless. There was never any question that the U.S. military would topple Saddam Hussein, but as Fiasco shows, there was also never any real thought about what would come next. This blindness has ensured the Iraq war a place in history as nothing less than a fiasco. Fair, vivid, and devastating, Fiasco is an audiobook whose tragic verdict feels definitive.

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What the Critics Say

"A wealth of detail and evidence that is both staggeringly vivid and persuasive....Fiasco is absolutely essential reading." (The New York Times)
"A comprehensive and illuminating portrait of the willful blindness of the Bush administration to Iraqi realities." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Solid reporting, deep knowledge of the U.S. military and willingness to name names make this account the most complete, incisive analysis yet of the Iraq quagmire." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

History not Politics

Given the number of books designed for conservatives or liberals this book is refreshing in that it is not a bunch of political cheap shots - despite its harsh title. Anyone, who is truly familiar with the current military situation in Iraq and regardless of party affiliation must conclude that things are very bad for our troops. This book explains with the dispassionate tones of a history book (like "1776" which I also downloaded) relies on quotes, e-mails, interviews, newspaper columns/articles to relate the facts & opinions that brought us to this unfortunate point. I noted that President H.W.Bush is not mentioned in an inflammatory manner. Tellingly several people refused to make any comments to the author in defense of their actions. My favorite quote from the book was, "I don't want to be a Guinea pig for Rumsfield's new kind of war!" This book explains how war planners ended up making more enemies than friends by making assumptions, their lack of understanding of Iraqi culture, and having no plan to win and keep the peace. You come to realize that war is not easily won even by pros. I thought officers who could quote verbatim from ancient & modern war books was a figment of fiction writers, but they exist in our forces! There is also common sense. "Sir, what is the battleground?" asked one insightful soldier after the insurgency was in full swing. I won't spoil your listening by giving you the answers both by the officer or by the soldier. Expect many negative reviews by the very conservative due personal political agendas. I support our troops 100%. I only wish that they were not in this mess due to poor judgement, lack of a *complete* plan, and the plain ol' hubris outlined by the author of those who sent our beloved soldiers into harm's way with no plan to lead them back out. We have now rotated a total of about 300,000 troops in & out of Iraq. If we had gone IN with 300,000 the outcome might have been different.
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- Scott "Don't you just love a great story well told?"

interesting but flawed

An excellent read/listen, which describes in great detail many of the mistakes that we made in our early days in Iraq...I served as Chief of Operations for the Baghdad CJTF-7 Headquarters in 2003 and early 2004. Unfortunately, Ricks relies far too heavily on criticisms from BG Janis Karpinsky and MG Chuck Swannack, quoting both extensively throughout the book. Both Karpinski's and Swannack's opinions are far from objective, so to base many of his findings on their comments is not honest journalism. As CJTF-7 Commanding General, LTG Sanchez held what could arguably be the toughest job in recent history of our Military. Ricks' slanderous characterization of Sanchez is unfair, way off base, and discredits what is otherwise an interesting and important book.
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- Rand Vollmer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-25-2006
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio