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The Iraq War: A Military History Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0674012806 ISBN-10: 0674012801

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (October 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674012801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674012806
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,709,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The practice of "embedding" journalists in combat units provided a good deal of spectacular, timely footage, but tended to restrict insight to the frontline perspective of riflemen and vehicle crews. Murray and Scales provide a lucid and leavened look at the larger-scale forces shaping the war. Murray (A War to Be Won), currently a fellow at the Institute of Defense Analysis, is an eminent military historian, and Scales (Yellow Smoke), a retired major general and former commandant of the Army War College, is a familiar commentator on security issues. In this operational history, they eschew discussion of such abstractions as whether the war was a "revolution in military affairs." Instead, they show how, since the Gulf War of 1991, each of the services (army, air force, navy and marines) improved its mastery of the craft of war: individually integrating technology, training, and doctrine while at the same time cultivating a "jointness" that eroded, if it did not quite eliminate, traditional rivalries at the operational level. The result, they argue, was a virtuoso performance in 2003 that did not depend on Iraqi ineffectiveness, a model exercise in maneuver warfare at the operational level that stands comparison with any large-scale operation in terms of effectiveness and economy. The authors complement their work with competent surveys of Iraq's history and of how the U.S. armed forces recovered from the Vietnam debacle, and with an excellent appendix describing the weapons systems that dominated America's television screens. While the short duration of the war's main push-three weeks from start to finish-works against systematic analysis, and there will be much more material to surface and be sifted in the coming years, Murray and Scales set the standard for future works.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

In their coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom...embedded reporters provided vertical depth but little horizontal scope. Profound portraits of individual soldiers and units were rarely complemented by competent narratives placing the various military operations in the context of a grand strategic view. That is the job not of war correspondents but of military historians. Williamson Murray, a senior fellow at the Institute of Defense Analysis, and Major General Robert H. Scales Jr., a former commandant of the Army War College, fill the void. (Robert D. Kaplan The Atlantic 2003-11-01)

Murray and Scales provide a lucid and leavened look at the larger-scale forces shaping the war. (Publishers Weekly 2003-09-29)

Williamson Murray and Robert Scales, both American military academics, have produced a superlative record of the invasion--part history, part critique and part doctrinal template for the future. Technical and operational aspects are explained clearly without losing the depth required to make this a serious study. (The Economist 2003-11-29)

For those wanting a detailed analysis of the strategic and operational dimensions of the recent war, this is the book. (Tim Dunne Times Higher Education Supplement 2003-11-28)

The academic depth of Williamson Murray and the professional experience of Major General Robert Scales ensure that their lively account of the war against Iraq is a superior, authoritative product. Its focus is operational (neither Donald Rumsfeld nor Paul Wolfowitz appears in the index), but the authors acknowledge the importance of political context, especially the 'sustaining power of tyranny' even in the face of a 'shock and awe' air assault. (Lawrence D. Freedman Foreign Affairs 2004-01-01)

Murray and Scales offer plenty of detailed combat accounts. But largely, their book seeks to step back and put the war in a larger frame. (Harry Levins St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2003-12-14)

Military historians Murray and Scales have written an enormously detailed description and analysis of the U.S.-led campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in March-April 2003. Their book's value lies in its step-by-step report on the invasion. (W. Spencer Choice 2004-03-01)

The authors clearly had access to major military decision-makers and after-action reports. But as seasoned military historians, they go far beyond mere reportage, offering concise judgements about both the planning and the conduct of the campaign...Mr. Murray and Mr. Scales provide an illuminating look at the ground campaign that culminated in the capture of Baghdad...The authors' discussion of the war's ramifications is excellent and alone is worth the price of the book...More detailed analyses of the war will follow this book. By all means, read them. But the insights and judgments of Williamson Murray and Robert Scales make The Iraq War a book that will stand the test of time. (Mackubin Thomas Owens Washington Times 2004-03-21)

Murrayand Scales, both American military academics, have produced a superlative record of the invasion--part history, part critique and part doctrinal template for the future (Lawrence D. Freedman The Economist)

Murray and Scales are serious military historians [and] have a knack for integrating tactical vignettes into their operational narrative . . . Details like these give the reader a bit of the taste and smell of the fighting. More important, [the authors] use them adroitly to highlight factors that shaped the thinking of American military commanders at key stages and to point out critical lessons about the conduct of modern war . . . What emerges from their book is a far more comprehensive view of a far more complicated war than the vast majority of readers may have gleaned from the snapshots provided by the news media during the 23 days of major combat operations. (Kenneth M. Pollack New York Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

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This book is a good summary of our war for freedom in Iraq.
Albert Lee
The ultimate lessons from this book include future benchmarks such as independent forces that are capable to move as ad hoc units, with precision.
Jason Greer
If you're looking for a good objective overview of the invasion of Iraq I'd highly recommend this book.
Terry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Orome on December 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are already too many books on the Iraq War, but this compact and mostly objective history is the best of the bunch if you are looking for a quick and factual overview from the purely military perspective. Other books treat individual events in greater depth, or take stronger (often controversial) positions on the issues, or provide deeper analysis of the thicket of surrounding issues. But none does as good a job at covering the basic facts of the military operations.
If you are looking for an informed and clear-headed account of the military operations of the Iraq War without the encumbrance of ideology or political agendas start here. What analysis this book does contain is provided in a separate chapter at the end of the book and consists exclusively of clear-headed and balanced insights into the military lessons (many of which are bitter pills) of the war.
The only real shortcoming of this book is that it is so understated. Events that loomed large in the hysterical real-time media coverage of the war (the firefight at the overpasses on the approach to Baghdad, the Jessica Lynch "rescue") are all given their proper place in the context of the overall strategic situation. As a result, it is easy to miss important clarifications (e.g. the extent to which the disorientation of the maintenance convoy that was attacked at An Nasiriyah was an almost inevitable consequence of the Coalition plan and the speed with which it was executed), though the implications are clearly spelled out (support units need better close-combat training).
Like many history books published by non-specialty presses, this one suffers from a lack of maps and diagrams. The few maps that are provided, though colorful, are not tied to the text and convey very little information.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Armstrong on September 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this descriptive military history of the Iraq War to be balanced, fluid, and comprehensive--in the various fields of battle, armed forces staff and theater organization, and the cooperation between services and allies. I am not really a military history buff, but I found this book to be filled with information that somehow had not reached me through the newspapers or television accounts of the War. I found myself grateful to, and admiring the ingenuity and adaptability of, the soldiers, sailors, and airmen (and women) of the United States. I also found the chapters on the political organization and terror of Saddam's Iraq to be very informataive.

I also liked John Keegan's account of the Iraq War (also available on Amazon). Each book has different strengths. This book seemed to capture the "theater"-eye view very well.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Catherwood on October 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a definitive book by two outstanding authors, and should therefore be on everyone's reading list. I agree with Publisher's Weekly - this is going to be essential reading for those who want to stay informed in today's increasingly troubled world. Christopher Catherwood, author of CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS AND ISLAMIC RAGE (Zondervan, 2003) ...
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36 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Newt Gingrich THE on March 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This novel is a solid and very informative overview of the war with Iraq, including a review of the earlier Desert Storm campaign and some reflections on the 12 years of containment and attrition the U.S. and the United Kingdom engaged in against Saddam Hussein.
Murray, one of the best military historians of our generation, and Scales, a retired Army major general and one of the leading intellectuals on the art of war and technological change, combine to give this book an enormous chronicle of warfare contemplation. A wide range of personal relationships also allowed the authors to interview many of the key participants immediately following the battles.
The Iraq War captures the audacity and daring of General Franks' campaign plan and the persistent boldness with which it was executed. Also emphasized is the fact that the component commanders truly understood Franks' intent and, when in doubt, took risks and kept pushing the envelope for more speed and more surprise.
There are no gigantic revelations in the authors' account of Operation Iraqi Freedom and their assessment of what worked and what didn't; however, they highlight some principles that every sophisticated American should reflect upon when thinking about our future national security policies. Several of these principles are covered in the remainder of this review.
Murray and Scales signify the human element in war and the stunning mismatch in technology, training, experience, and professionalism between the coalition and the Iraqis. But once the fighting shifted into the existing guerilla phase, most of those advantages lost much of their force.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sean Tomlinson on August 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I was very pleased to pick this book up and give it a read. I didn't follow the invasion closely when it occurred (I saw more coverage of the protests than of the war itself as I was in Australia) and I had been curious ever since.

The book is very well written, informative and the photos are terrific. It was a good read.

I do have two quibbles however. The first, that the book was published in August of 2003 (when the invasion was in March-April) gives me doubts about some of the lessons written of in the book. I just think it was too close to the invasion to really give a good retrospective. The second are the maps. While yes, I love that this book has maps, and they're reasonably easy to read, I wish they were more informative.

However, I really enjoyed this book and I think it is a good pick up for anyone interested in the invasion and also the state of the US military before and during the 2003 invasion.
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