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Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II Hardcover – August 1, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0226841700 ISBN-10: 0226841707 Edition: Facsimile Ed

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Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II + Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain, 1942: Reproduced from the original typescript, War Department, Washington, DC (Instructions for Servicemen) + Instructions for American Servicemen in France during World War II
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Facsimile Ed edition (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226841707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226841700
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The University of Chicago Press has a hot book on its hands, with some solid advice for U.S. military in Iraq: .. . 'American success or failure in Iraq may well depend on whether the Iraqis . . . like American soldiers or not,' the book admonishes. The advice, which sounds like it could be lifted from a lesson book from the war on terror, was actually written 65 years ago during World War II."

(Greg Jaffe Wall Street Journal -- Washington Wire blog 2007-06-18)

"The University of Chicago Press has a hot book on its hands, with some solid advice for U.S. military in Iraq: .. . 'American success or failure in Iraq may well depend on whether the Iraqis . . . like American soldiers or not,' the book admonishes. The advice, which sounds like it could be lifted from a lesson book from the war on terror, was actually written 65 years ago during World War II."

(Jodi S. Cohen Chicago Tribune 2007-08-07)

“A historical oddity that sheds a certain unintended light upon our current woes.”
(David L. Ulin Los Angeles Times 2007-07-22)

“In 1943, the Army published this junior Baedeker to help U.S. grunts who were utterly unfamiliar with the land in which they were serving. In prose notable for its E.B. White economy (and Saturday Evening Post-style ingenuousness), the guidebook urges soldiers to respect the traditions and mores of their hosts. After all, says the anonymous author, ‘American success or failure in Iraq may well depend on whether the Iraqis (as the people are called) like American soldiers or not. It may not be quite that simple. But then again it could.’”

(Christopher Shea Boston Globe)



“The essential message is to show respect. . . . Why wasn’t this the ‘commander’s intent’ when Americans returned to Iraq sixty years later?”
(George Packer New Yorker online)

“The surprise hit book of the summer.”

(Al Kamen Washington Post)

"Those despairing of American policymakers' mistakes in Iraq . . . may find some solace in this amazing little booklet. . . . It's a treasure chest of information. And the bottom line for the piece couldn't be clearer: we didn't used to be so stupid."
(Scott Horton Harper's)

"Leaders, soldiers, and historians alike will be captivated by this simple yet so remarkable cultural guidebook."
(LTC Steve Leonard Military Review)

"If only U.S. military personnel from 2003 on had something similar. . . . The 44-page booklet is the most succinct summation of Iraqi culture for Americans anywhere anytime."
(World)

About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl commands the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor at Fort Riley, Kansas. He is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam, also published by the University of Chicago Press.


More About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl commands the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor at Fort Riley, Kansas. He led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Nagl earned his doctorate from Oxford University, taught national security studies at West Point, and served as Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. He is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and was on the writing team that produced the Army's new Counterinsurgency Field Manual.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steven M. Leonard on September 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
John Nagl's foreword strikes a familiar chord, opening with a metaphorical twist on an ages old debate: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes." As a fellow veteran of Iraq, I too saw the stark differences in those who possessed an inherent cultural understand and those who didn't. A basic understanding of a very complex culture can often earn significant dividends; this little book offers barely more than a broad brushstroke across the "birthplace of mankind," but that alone would have been sufficient enough to possibly alter the course of events.

The true value of this tome isn't just the simplistic discussions of culture, religion, or society. It isn't the well-written and conceived forward by a recognized expert on counterinsurgency. The greatest utility of this book comes with the quiet reminder that opens the book -- while history may not repeat itself, circumstances, situations, and even human nature tend to recur or remain fairly consistent. It rhymes.

This book is a reminder that while we may not have fielded a large force in Iraq in World War II, we still recognized the unique challenges presented by a culture so foreign from our own. Sixty years later, as we stood on the verge of war, we were looking beyond those simple lessons of the past to a future many believed was predetermined by our advanced weaponry and technological advantages. If those people had only listened closely for the echoes of our greatest generation, they might have avoided some of the mistakes that marked the first years of the war in Iraq.

"Instruction" is a quick, easy read and well worth the minimal expense. Readers will enjoy it as much for its "fireside chat" value as for its common sense approach to cultural understanding.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joseph L. Gattuso on January 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This little book is both a historical curiosity and of current relevance. I really wish I had seen it -- or something like it! -- before I went over to Iraq. It is exactly what the description says it is (thus the 5 stars). It's simply a reprint of an old Army pamphlet, though, so of course you can't expect too much.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. felsher on September 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A great reminder about cultural differences in Iraq. If you're stationed in Iraq this could really help you understand local population better. Great phrase section in the back.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Fox on December 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though over 60 years old, much of the general advice this small book puts forth still rings true. I have not had the opportunity to use many of the arabic phrases in the book, but the advice on etiquette is spot on. Also, the illustrations are a joy to behold... obviously produced by the same military that designed the chrome fueselaged B-29. You can almost imagine it being narrated by a character actor in a khaki uniform smoking a pipe and calling you 'son'.
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By Weesel on January 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It sounded interesting from a historic perspective. The advice is still largely current per folks who have served there recently, but IMO maybe it is a little too cartoonish in its presentation and I mean verbal cartoons.
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