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A Chance in Hell: The Men Who Triumphed Over Iraq's Deadliest City and Turned the Tide of War Hardcover – June 22, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312587465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312587468
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Michaels...deftly explains how the so-called Anbar Awakening emerged from this seemingly hopeless set of circumstances...."
-- The Wall Street Journal

"Michaels shows that ideas can win wars or lose them, often by the narrowest of margins."
-- Ken Allard in New York Journal of Books

"Many of the events in the book...will captivate readers...."
-- Army Times

"A Chance in Hell is one of the most important books written thus far on Army operations in Iraq."
-- Lou DiMarco in the blog, A Horse Soldier's Thoughts

"It is one helluve story that has been told brilliantly by Jim Michaels."
--Jim Lehrer, author and anchor of PBS Newshour

“Anbar province was the place where the Iraq war began to turn around, and in this book Jim Michaels captures that time and place. He also brings to this story a fine feel for how the U.S. military thinks and operates.”
--Thomas E. Ricks, bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble, and of ForeignPolicy.com’s “Best Defense” blog

Review

"Many of the events in the book…will captivate readers." --Army Times

"Ramadi was the place where the Iraq war made its real turn toward success. A group of smart, courageous Americans--mostly Army and Marine officers on the ground, not in Washington--worked with Iraqi tribal leaders to make it happen. It is one helluva story that has been told brilliantly by Jim Michaels." --Jim Lehrer, author and anchor of PBS Newshour

“Anbar province was the place where the Iraq war began to turn around, and in this book Jim Michaels captures that time and place. He also brings to this story a fine feel for how the U.S. military thinks and operates.”
--Thomas E. Ricks, bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble, and of ForeignPolicy.com’s “The Best Defense” blog

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Jim Michaels, thank you for writing this book.
Pnut and Banana
If you want to read about the battle for Ramadi 2006 and the struggles of our company id definately reccomed it.
Hon. Wilson P Macgilicuty
We see the Battle of Ramadi from the ground troop level - good and bad.
Robert A. Bajema

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert McDonald on July 14, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow, this author really rips apart the National Guard....So let me tell you what we did there. I was stationed at Corregidor with Animal Company 3/103rd. There were no "blind" old guys there....I am truly saddened that the author failed to interview the troops themselves. Maybe he would have learned a thing or two. For example, McFarland was not responsible for the awakening. We had already made contact with the leaders in the Sufia district and they were fighting the insurgents BEFORE the "Ready First" brigade arrived. The 2nd Brigade's officers may not have had a grasp of "conditions on the ground" but 1/506th's LTC Clark was on the ball and everyone on Corregidor knew the deal. Camp Ramadi was a different world. They had intermural sports leagues, we had mortar and rocket showers. If the author wants the truth, he can contact me and I will share my journal with him. There was alot of progress made BEFORE the SEALS and Ready First. When we arrived there, the 2nd Inf Div was in desperate need of replacement. Animal Company and 2-69 Armor (3rd ID) did what we could to the best of our abilities. We did not perform like the stereotypical part time soldiers portrayed by the author in this book. I respect all the units that had to survive Ramadi. It truly was hell and the book does a great job describing life there...I just wish people respected the job we did and give us some damn credit.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Bajema on June 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michaels has done the hard job of a top-flight professional journalist. No agenda; just did the primary source research to report unbiased facts. We see the Battle of Ramadi from the ground troop level - good and bad. He understood the strategy and tactics, and interpreted the results intelligently and fairly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gary Schreckengost on May 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an Iraqi Army advisor in the Fallujah AO from 2005-06, serving just before and during the time covered in this great book, I highly recommend it along with many other books from Amazon about the war. In reading this book, I was better able to understand what was going on "next door" (we rarely, if ever left our battle spaces)and it solidified what I was hearing. A couple of points: most of us, by 05, were against the general strategy from "way up" to work through the gov't channels that Bremer, etc. had established and to some extent, we were all trying to do what occurred in Ramadi. I also liked the angle of joint operations that was stressed in the book: Marines working with Army, etc. This paradigm shift, I hope, will last from here on out. Both services benefitted and learned a lot from the other. I also liked the angle of working with the locals and the temperment that is needed. It was dead on. The first time I saw Patriquin's PPT from an SF colonel at the War College (where I was posted after I got home) I LOL, jealous that I or someone on my team didn't create it. Capt. P. is an inspiration to us all and he verbalized what we were all thinking. Down load it from the web. To all my brothers and sisters from Al Anbar: Salaam Malechum!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael P Brown on September 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
A very narrow account of the fight for Ramadi, focusing on just the 1st BCT...a passing mention is made of the 1-506 IN that was responsible for the entire eastern half of the city, nor of the two task forces from the 2BCT, 1st Armored that were sent to Ramadi with the 1st BCt...and the PA Guard was painted in such a horrible light I feel the author owes that brigade an apology...the platoon we replaced (from the 876 Engineers, PA Guard) were some of the best engineers I have ever met...the author doesn't understand the basic flaw with Iraq was we didn't have near enough troops to completely control our battlespace, and seeing as the Guard brigade brought 7 battalions with them, I do not understand how the author claims that 1BCT brought more troops than the Guard had....basically this book is homage to Colonel MacFarland and his staff, and they should be given kudos for helping get the Awakening rolling, but that is a process that had already started, and to give all the credit to just one unit is to dishonor all of us that fought, sweated, bled, and died in Ramadi...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas L. VanDerslice on August 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jim Michaels book, "Chance in Hell", will rank with the best military naratives ever. It is informative, easily read, and highly emotional. Michaels captures the courage, selflessness, dedication, and deaths of our soldiers in Iraq. At the same time, Michaels skillfully chronicles the "Awakening", i.e., the Sunni uprising against al qaeda. The reader will be heartened to see the ingenuiity and "can do" spirit of many of our unit combat leaders in supporting that effort. Michaels should be applauded for telling a great story that, hopefully, will become a movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Swikart on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought A Chance in Hell after reading Bing West's The Strongest Tribe and although I didn't read it for several months, I'm definitely glad I did. Jim Michaels, a former USMC infantry officer, does an excellent job covering the events that led to the rout of al-Qaeda from Ramadi, a city that was once considered one of the most dangerous in Iraq, if not the entire world. A great deal of Michaels's material is drawn from interviews conducted in Iraq and he details the unconventional measures the U.S. Marines, Army and Special Ops personnel employed to turn the local population against al-Qaeda.

Much of the credit for this has to go to Col. Sean McFarland, commanding officer of First Brigade, First Armored division. McFarland was an unconventional officer, to say the least, and was lucky enough to have officers such as Arabic-speaking Capt. Travis Patriquin under his command that shared the same trait. They formed an alliance with Sheik Abdul Sattar Bezia al-Rishawi, a known smuggler and whiskey drinker, who opposed al-Qaeda from the start. Although Sattar was killed before he saw the end result of his efforts, the working relationship McFarland and his officers forged with the tribes of Ramadi helped deliver a crushing blow to al-Qaeda.

Needless to say, some of the things McFarland's troops did to help the tribes that aligned themselves with the U.S. would not have passed muster if it was done through official channels but in this case, it worked. They learned the intricacies of tribal politics and used it to win the battle for Ramadi, handing al-Qaeda a stinging defeat. A Chance in Hell should be read by anyone interested in learning how a successful counterinsurgency campaign in the Arabic-speaking world should be conducted.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Jim Michaels is an award-winning war correspondent and former Marine who has covered conflicts around the world for the past two decades. He he has made more than 20 trips to Iraq and Afghanistan for USA TODAY and has also covered wars in Libya, Israel, Haiti and Central America. His dispatches combine a keen eye for the world of the foot soldier with a shrewd insight into strategy and tactics.

Michaels' book, A Chance in Hell: The Men who Triumphed over Iraq's Deadliest City and Turned the Tide of War, is a compelling story of one of the most important -- but little known -- campaigns of the Iraq war.

Michaels has made frequent appearances on CNN, Fox and other cable news networks and has given numerous speeches to military and other audiences.

Prior to coming to USA TODAY, Michaels was city editor at the Times Union in Albany, New York, and was a military reporter and investigative journalist at the San Antonio Light and San Diego Tribune. He covered the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91 for the San Diego Tribune, embedding with elements of the 1st Marine Division.

Michaels was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1981 and served as a platoon commander for 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. In the reserves, he was a company commander for 4th Reconnaissance Battalion.

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