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Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sheikhs, and the Battle Against al Qaeda (Blue and Gold) Hardcover – May 15, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1612511283 ISBN-10: 1612511287 Edition: 1st

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Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sheikhs, and the Battle Against al Qaeda (Blue and Gold) + The Marines Take Anbar: The Four Year Fight Against al Qaeda + Fallujah Redux: The Anbar Awakening and the Struggle with Al-Qaeda
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press; 1 edition (May 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612511287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612511283
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"…A well reported, fast paced narrative of how Major Dan Whisnant's U.S. Marine Infantry Company and Sheikh Aifan Sadoun Aifan al-Issawi, who called himself "Dark", teamed up to fight Al Qaeda in what would become the Third Battle of Fallujah.

Using a non-fiction narrative style similar to Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down, Ardolino has crafted a gripping, page-turning adventure that is also a serious historical and military study of a slice of the Iraq War in 2006-2007."

-- Outsidethewire.com

"…A compelling account… an eminently readable book that describes tactical action clearly. The discussion of firefights are accompanied by simple map diagrams which help to explain the action in terms that are uncomplicated but not condescending to military readers…Fallujah Awakens is well worth the time of the small wars student looking to hone his craft, Iraq veterans still coming to terms with the totality of that conflict, and any other student of military history."

-- Marine Corps Gazette

"Arguably the book's most important contribution is the wealth of material telling the Iraqi side of the story. It provides a powerful counterpoint and, in some cases, mirror image of the Marine experience there. Ardolino cogently explains with rare and remarkable clarity intimate details of Iraqi tribal dynamics, a Gordian knot reality of contradictions and complexity so confusing to outsiders that Western writers often glossed over it with the oversimplified and unhelpful label 'tribal politics.' … A must-read reference about how to conduct a successful counterinsurgency operation."

-- Defense Media Network

"Bill Ardolino goes beyond where others have left off after the first and second battles to subdue the 'City of Mosques' and examines the crucial role played by Fallujah in the fight against al Qaeda. His vivid account fills a gap in our understanding of the counterinsurgency strategy that turned the tide against al Qaeda terrorists. In this engrossing book, Ardolino demonstrates that personalities mattered, not just abstract principles of war. His volume is essential reading for students of COIN and the Iraq War."

-- Thomas H. Henriksen, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution and the U.S. Joint Special Operations University

"…Superb book….A fine writer….One of the better books on Marine COIN published to date. It's the book to read to understand how to work with the locals and having them 'choose us.'"

-- Leatherneck

"The accounts of events--usefully shaped by research and interviews with Iraqi and American individuals--illuminates the work of the Marines and grants readers a window into the incredibly delicate decisions made by the involved parties. Much like the work of T.E Lawrence and other authors who spent considerable time operating in a foreign country and seeking to develop alliances--and whose works proved informative decades after their publication--Fallujah Awakens may serve the same purpose as an extended case study displaying the nuances of applying counterinsurgency or, more broadly, the requirement for considered policies in post-conflict zones with complicated social and political undercurrents."

-- Australian Defence Force Journal (online)

"Bill Ardolino masterfully crafts a narrative that illustrates the challenges faced by U.S. Marines during one of the most dangerous battles in the Iraq War. Fallujah Awakens captures their struggle to be both warriors, and sometimes social workers, while combating a cagey and elusive enemy. Their strategy in Fallujah--both its successes and failures--will be studied by military leaders and war history enthusiasts for generations to come."

--Carmen Gentile, conflict correspondent for USA Today

"A powerful account of courageous decisions and bold actions made by Americans and Iraqis alike in Anbar's darkest city at the most uncertain and critical time in the entire campaign. His writing took me back to the nervous emotions experienced even only while driving through the city's infamous 'cloverleaf' en route to engage al Qaeda in the deeper province. The author takes you on patrol throughout the most dangerous peninsula and artfully weaves in Iraq's tribal complexities, cultural nuances, and our own political theater in a way that I have never before encountered. This should be required reading for anyone tasked with fighting, or studying, a war of counterinsurgency--or any reader interested in a tale of war hard fought, told incredibly well."

--Capt. Alexander S. Martin, USMCR, USNA Class of 2004, is an infantry officer who has served as a platoon commander in infantry, recon and force recon units; Founder and CEO of Arbroath Capital

About the Author

Bill Ardolino is an associate editor of THE LONG WAR JOURNAL. He was embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, the Iraqi Army, and the Iraqi Police in Fallujah, Habbaniyah, and Baghdad in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and later with U.S. and Afghan forces in Kabul, Helmand and Khost provinces in Afghanistan. His reports, columns, and photographs have received wide media exposure and have been cited in a number of academic publications. He lives in Washington, DC.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
Those is a very well written book.
Kelly Todd
If you want to get the real story on thr successes our military had in Iraq then read this book.
betty whisnant
The stories are deeply personal which gives it a unique perspective.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ron Jansen II on May 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was first interviewed by Bill Ardolino several years ago when he was doing initial research for this book. After speaking to him it quickly became clear that he wasn't the stereotypical battlefield journalist trying to sum up a complicated situation into a simple 60 second story. Now that I've read the finished book I've been impressed with his attention to detail and willingness to uncover the complex truth even when simpler but less accurate narratives where widely believed.

Ardolino did a great job of highlighting some of the unsung heroes of the Fallujah peninsula. Marines like these were the backbone of our efforts and explaining their thoughts and actions give the book a credibility that a lot of others lack. The Marines detailed weren't the most outspoken, the most likely to speak to a journalist or even the most likely to be recognized by their superiors for their efforts. They represented a sample of all of us who were there and their stories speak for all the others who weren't named specifically.

I acknowledge I have a biased point of view on this subject. However, from my perspective this is an excellent book and should be read by anyone interested in military tactics or just in search of a great story.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Luke on May 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is well written, researched and accurate. It's a must read if you have an interest in the military, the Middle East or the United States, you should read this book. This book portrays a balanced and objective view of the significant events that took place in Fallujah in 2006 and 2007.

I found the book incredibly enjoyable, a fast read and and enlightening. As one of the Marines that experienced the events and one that was interviewed for this book, I still learned a great deal of the politics, emotions and thoughts of other Marines ,and viewpoints of the Iraqis.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Lubin on May 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Fallujah; a city remembered for the slaughtered contractors and Marines and insurgents fighting house-to-house in November 2004's Operation Phantom Fury. But although the conventional fight had ended, the violence worsened and by summer 2006 a Marine intelligence officer submitted his widely-reported analysis that Anbar Province was on the verge of being `lost.'

The US-vs-Iraqi fighting in Fallujah was matched by such Iraqi-vs-Iraqi bloodshed that from winter 2006 through early spring 2007 the sheer number of attacks reached the highest level since the March 2003 invasion. This was the climate in which Alpha Company 1st Bn, 24th Marines found themselves as they arrived in October 2006, tasked to `improve security' and hopefully defeat the Fallujah elements of Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq.

It's their story that first-time author Bill Ardolino tells in his superb book "Fallujah Awakens: Marines Sheiks, and the battle against Al Qaeda;" of how these Grand Rapids, Mi reservists partnered with Fallujah's Albu-Issa tribe and spearheaded the `turn' away from Al-Qaeda Iraq.

It's also the story of how COIN - as practiced by the Marines - is driven by personality, events, and the guts to take advantage and build on whatever opportunities are presented.

A respected journalist with multiple embeds with Marines and US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan including Fallujah, Ardolino `gets' COIN, and "Fallujah Awakens" focuses on how the relations between the Marines and their Albu Issa counterparts became such an important part of the fight.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marty5220 on May 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Regardless of how you feel about the Iraq war, the story of the men and women in uniform, from Navy corpsman to Civil Affairs Units and Marines in particular, is one that needed to be told. The Americans in this book are not heroes in the kick-down-doors-shoot-Osama-in-the-head sense. They're regular Marines, going about their business, performing their duty with resilience and honor. They are ordinary and extraordinary at the same time, heroes just the same. To be clear, they do kick plenty of insurgent ass in this book, if that's what you are looking for.

The author does a nice job of first explaining the background tribal and political situation in Fallujah 2006-2007, and helps distill complex and nuanced concepts into simple reading. One minute is policy and the next is action filled. Ardolino lays out the scope of the book early on, so even if you have read other books on Fallujah, you will learn something new here. I think this is the strength of the book. Through personal first-hand interviews with Iraqis and Marines, he managed to document the pivot point that allowed the US to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. While success has many fathers, the author chose 1 Iraqi tribe and 1 Marine Corp unit to document, which keeps the book compact and moving at a pace that is comfortable and easy to digest.

This is a micro view of the events in Iraq as opposed to the macro. The stories are deeply personal which gives it a unique perspective. You get to see how all phases of the strategy form together, including census taking, intelligence gathering, patrols, interrogation, combat, and most importantly - relationship building.

I found the book well written and heavily researched.
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