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Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq (Yale Library of Military History) Hardcover – September 16, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This is a unique contribution to the burgeoning literature on the Iraq war, analyzing the day-to-day performance of a U.S. brigade in Baghdad during 2004-2005. Mansoor uses a broad spectrum of sources to address the military, political and cultural aspects of an operation undertaken with almost no relevant preparation, which tested officers and men to their limits and generated mistakes and misjudgments on a daily basis. The critique is balanced, perceptive and merciless—and Mansoor was the brigade commander. Military history is replete with command memoirs. Most are more or less self-exculpatory. Even the honest ones rarely achieve this level of analysis. The effect is like watching a surgeon perform an operation on himself. Mansoor has been simultaneously a soldier and a scholar, able to synergize directly his military and academic experiences. He presents an eloquent critique of the armed forces' post-Vietnam neglect of counterinsurgency and makes a strong case for integrating military forces with civilian experts who can aid reconstruction in counterinsurgency operations. Above all, Mansoor reasserts the enduring impact of fog and friction on war. There is never an easy solution, he says—or an easy exit. Maps. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 2004, Mansoor stirred controversy by sending scores of correspondents a lengthy e-mail challenging media representations of the Iraq War with his own personal experience as an on-the-ground soldier. This compelling narrative goes much further, offering not only factual corrections of published accounts of battlefield events but also incisive analysis of overall American strategy. In reportage that crackles with the gunfire of street fighting, then segues into candid reflections on America’s military doctrines and policies, Mansoor draws readers directly into the tension of the Iraqi conflict. Readers feel the frustrations of American military leaders as victory over Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime unexpectedly lets loose a bloody cycle of sectarian violence. Those planning to establish a unified Iraqi democracy thus find themselves trying to defuse the lethal animosities dividing Ba’athists, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and Syrian Catholics. Mansoor frankly confronts American errors—highlighting the wholesale disbanding of the Iraqi army, the initial deployment of American troops far from urban centers, and the abuse of Iraqi detainees—and he exposes serious deficiencies in American military training. But he strongly affirms the valor and resourcefulness of the American soldier, and he defends a cautiously optimistic assessment of the “surge” of U.S. troops in Baghdad. A sober and balanced perspective. --Bryce Christensen

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Product Details

  • Series: Yale Library of Military History
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1St Edition edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030014069X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300140699
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #889,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am an Army historian who has accessed many, if not most, of the existing (and they are relatively few) records pertaining to the Ready First Brigade Combat Team's operations in Iraq during the period discussed in this book. Therefore, I can set the "bar" a bit higher when it comes to informed analysis of the book's value. I am also acquainted with an extremely candid and capable senior non-commissioned officer from Colonel Mansoor's Brigade Reconnaissance Troop who interacted with the author on a daily basis during the 1st BCT's deployment in Iraq. If my friend did not believe that Colonel Mansoor was an effective combat leader, he would have told me so in no uncertain terms. Quite the contrary, Colonel Mansoor was a well-respected and credible leader who "figured out" what was happening long before other commanders.

All professional affilitations aside, this review represents my personal opinion. That said, I believe Colonel Mansoor has produced a forthright, factual, and valuable narrative of his experiences in the tumultuous months following the fall of Sadaam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

A respected historian prior to assuming brigade command, Colonel Mansoor took it upon himself to record each day's events in a notebook for posterity's sake. He does not rely solely on his memory, media reports, or the recollections of others. This fact alone sets his account apart from other OIF related personal accounts. His book is even more important given the relative lack of historical material, when compared to later OIF deployments, on the operations conducted by 1st Armored Division during the period 2003 - 2004.

If Mansoor has an unstated agenda, it is a subtle one focused on educating our nation's future political and military leadership.
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Format: Hardcover
My father-in-law received an advanced copy of Baghdad at Sunrise as a gift from the author. I began reading it with many questions about the handling of the Iraq War mixed with extreme respect for our nation's armed services. I am a lifetime civilian with very little exposure to military history and tactics, yet couldn't put the book down while learning a ton about what are servicemen and women have accomplished in their time in Iraq.

Col. Mansoor's book is a great mixture of military theory, Islamic history and cultural anthropology, all thrown into a personal account of his personal goals and associated challenges. I can't began to list off everything I learned and truthfully believe it would be great for everyone from military historians to those with no knowledge of military tactics and jargon (like yours truly).

On a separate note, I just finished two years of business school with a number of former officers who served in our nation's War on Terror. Reading this book left me with a clear picture of what life on the frontlines is really like, as well as a new appreciation for their hard work and sacrifice. I will hopefully be at the USMA in a few weeks to see a classmate and close friend of mine who is now a West Point professor. Although it may embarrass him in front of new colleagues, he will be getting a hug and a sincere 'thank you' from a friend whose freedom and safety he risked so much for.

Colonel Mansoor, thank you for such an enlightening read. My best for you and your family (Jana, the children and even the dogs) in the future.
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Format: Hardcover
Awesome book by an excellent Commander. Ready 6 takes the reader in a journey through the BCT's intense and extended deployment to Baghdad during the crawling stages of the war (2003-2004). The historical facts in this book help you understand the complexity of the situation, both leaders and Soldiers were faced with on a daily basis. His detailed narrative portrays without a doubt, the BCT's combat and civil operations. Colonel Mansoor also addresses full spectrum operations and the reorganization of the armed forces to better suit its current and future counterinsurgency operations abroad. As an OIF veteran and a proud member of this fine Brigade Combat Team during this and its subsequent deployment (2006-2007), I recommend this book, especially to fellow veterans and deployed service members.

T.H. Berrios
Provider One November (2003-2007)
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Format: Hardcover
As other reviewers have noted, this is unapologetically the narrative of Colonel Peter Mansoor. This is not a book about the 1st Armor Division's 1st "Ready" Brigade Combat Team. This is not a book about the American occupation of Iraq. Anyone looking to further existing knowledge of either will be disappointed - however, this is an excellent entry point for someone beginning to explore the complex nature of Iraq.

Colonel Mansoor has given a very honest account of his service during one of the darkest periods of Iraq; the beginning of not only the insurgency, but also the disillusionment with Operation Iraqi Freedom in the eyes of the American public. Undoubtedly, this book will serve as an often cited source for future analysis.

However, the book makes no apologies about its perspective. This is the war as seen by a Brigade Commander. Notably, one who is well educated, experienced and with the best of intentions. And there in lies the flaw - how reliable is the narrative as a first person source? At times, the memoir of Peter Mansoor becomes the epic of Ready 6. A characteristic that distinguishes the best of military memoirs is the ability to divorce the individual from his position; being a witness instead of a biographer. This memoir gives descriptions in spades, but the analysis is sparse.

There is a lot of "I" and "me" in this book - something that will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows. This becomes problematic if you intend to use this book for military scholarship rather than general information. The Brigade Staff is relegated to the role of comic relief; their only mention comes from quips and gallows humor. The Division Headquarters is always the foil, the subordinate commanders are always students.
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