From Publishers Weekly
On one level, narrator Wasson's mostly neutral delivery is apt. The authors' dispassionate prose imparts their impeccably researched story of the 2003 Iraq invasion—from concept to insurgency. Sourced at the highest levels, Cobra II
captures the fog of war and war planning. But Wasson's read too often feels routine, as if recounting a local board meeting. Because he renders the numerous players and backdrops with equal tones, differentiating between them can be a challenge. This style of narration creates an anti-tension when juxtaposed with the book's revelations that an invasion plan was being formed not long after September 11, despite administration denials. Strictly supervising the plan was defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was intent on transforming the military into a lighter, leaner force. False assumptions, faulty intelligence, willful ignorance, personal politics and a lack of foresight all fed into the invasion strategy and subsequent messy outcome. During the audiobook's second half, which documents the march to Baghdad and enemy engagements, Wasson's energy picks up and he paints some impressive scenes of war. But in the end, a more vibrant read would have better complemented the significance of this penetrating work. Gordon reads the introduction and epilogue.
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“A work of prodigious research, Cobra II
will likely become the benchmark by which other histories of the Iraq invasion are measured.”—The New York Times
“Magisterial . . . With mountains of fresh detail on the war’s planning and progress with judicious analysis, Cobra II
. . .
will be hard to improve upon.” —The Economist
“Stands as the best account of the war to dateÉoffers an instructive lesson on the consequences of inadequate strategic planning.”—The Washington Post Book World
“ExcellentÉ Cobra II
is everything that the Bush administration's plan for the war was not. It is meticulously organized, shuns bluff and bombast for lapidary statements, and is largely impervious to attack.”—The New York Times Book Review
“RemarkableÉ a classic military history of the blow-by-blow fighting to Baghdad. Cobra II
makes an irrefutable case for where the laurels lay for the victors and where the blame lies for the defeats.”—The Portland Oregonian