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Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II [Hardcover]

by United States Army, John A. Nagl
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1, 2007 0226841707 978-0226841700 Facsimile Ed
“American success or failure in Iraq may well depend on whether the Iraqis like American soldiers or not.”
 
The U.S. military could certainly have used that bit of wisdom in 2003, as violence began to eclipse the Iraq War’s early successes. Ironically, had the Army only looked in its own archives, they would have found it—that piece of advice is from a manual the U.S. War Department handed out to American servicemen posted in Iraq back in 1943.

The advice in Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II, presented here in a new facsimile edition, retains a surprising, even haunting, relevance in light of today’s muddled efforts to win Iraqi hearts and minds. Designed to help American soldiers understand and cope with what was at the time an utterly unfamiliar culture—the manual explains how to pronounce the word Iraq, for instance—this brief, accessible handbook  mixes do-and-don’t-style tips (“Always respect the Moslem women.” “Talk Arabic if you can to the people. No matter how badly you do it, they will like it.”) with general observations on Iraqi history and society. The book’s overall message still rings true—dramatically so—more than sixty years later: treat an Iraqi and his family with honor and respect, and you will have a strong ally; treat him with disrespect and you will create an unyielding enemy.

With a foreword by Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl reflecting on the manual’s continuing applicability—and lamenting that it was unknown at the start of the invasion—this new edition of Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq will be essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of Iraq and the fate of the American soldiers serving there.

Frequently Bought Together

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 Australia, 1942 (Instructions for Servicemen)
Price for all three: $26.85

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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.


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: 6.3 x 4.7 x 0.4 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: #779,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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
(10)
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rhymes of History 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Minding your Ps & Qs in Iraq 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely still relevant December 16, 2008
By W. Fox
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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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you should know about Iraq September 9, 2007
Format:Hardcover
This book was meant for WWII but it could have been written for the Troops in Iraq today, and it is a must read for all those who support our Troops in Iraq right now!!!
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