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Battle Ready (Study in Command) Hardcover – May 24, 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"In the lead-up to the Iraq War and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption." So says former U.S. Central Command commander in chief Zinni, who retired in September 2000 and has been outspoken ever since regarding the uses and abuses of the U.S. military. This book is the latest of Clancy's nonfiction Commanders series, which has previously featured collaborations with Gen. Fred Franks Jr. of the army, Gen. Chuck Horner of the air force and Gen. Carl Stiner, formerly U.S. Special Operations commander. As in those books, Clancy gives adequate background on his subject and his subject's context, then quotes him liberally, consigning tens of pages at a time to Zinni's italicized first-person reflections. Beginning the book with the 1998 CentCom-coordinated attack on Saddam Hussein (the unfortunately named Operation Desert Fox), Clancy and Zinni next move through 150 or so pages of Zinni's service as a Philadelphia-born (in 1947) Marine infantry officer during Vietnam and his racially charged Headquarters and Service stint on Okinawa in the early '70s. The book then flashes forward to the end of the Cold War and steams along from there, with details on Zinni's European command service, including 1990 meetings with a recently de-Sovietized Russian army and support operations during the Persian Gulf War. Zinni joined CentCom just in time for the Somalia debacle, and he is candid about its failings. Over the next years, Zinni traveled widely in parts of the world that were obscure to the U.S. then (Pakistan, Central Asia), but are central now, and played cat-and-mouse with Saddam regarding weapons inspections all through the late '90s. But it is Zinni's 24-page closing statement, "The Calling," that will sell the book to nonbuff civilians, summing up his service and the ways in which he feels his generation's legacy is in jeopardy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This is the fourth book in Clancy's nonfiction Commanders series; all have been cowritten with generals. This one chronicles the 40-year career of the now-retired Zinni, which includes two tours in Vietnam, two years as an instructor at the Basic School in the U.S., and his role as head of the U.S. Central Command. He also served in posts in Okinawa, Vieques Island, Germany, Turkey, and Somalia. Zinni reflects on the Vietnam War, saying, "Today we are seeing a stream of apologetic books by the policymakers and military leaders of that era--as though saying mea culpa enough will absolve them of the terrible responsibility they bear." On Operation Desert Storm, he says, "The only reason [that campaign] worked was because we managed to go up against the only jerk on the planet who was stupid enough to challenge us to refight World War II." On the Iraq war, he insists, "False rationales presented as justification, a flawed strategy, lack of planning, the unnecessary distraction from real threats, and the unbearable strain dumped on our overstretched military, all of these caused me to speak out." He warns that military conflict has changed in the twenty-first century and we have been reluctant to recognize it or to acknowledge it. Whether or not readers agree with Zinni, this is a book that demands our attention. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Study in Command
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (May 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399151761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399151767
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAME on June 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For the serious, this book absolutely merits a careful reading, together with Dana Priest's "The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military," and--for a fuller and free overview--my varioius reviews on emerging threats, strategy and force structure, and why our current "military only" approach to foreign policy is ineffective.
There are some tremendous gems in this book, some of which I summarize here.
1) Zinni is mpressive in his grasp of grand strategy, of the urgency of understanding the threat, devising a full approach that mixes and matches *all* instruments of national strategy, and that focuses--as Zinni learned to focus in Viet-Nam, on the hearts and minds of the people rather than the force on force battles (a means to an end, not an end in themselves).
2) Zinni's understanding of war comes across very early in the book when he describes the six completely different wars that took place in South Viet-Nam, each with its own lessons, tactics, and sometimes equipment differences--nuances that conventional military policy, doctine, and acquisition managers back in the US still do not understand: a) Swamp War, b) Paddy War, c) Jungle War, d) Plains War, e) Saigon War, and f) DMZ War.
3) Zinni has read SLA Marshall on "The Soldier's Load", and he notes that the equipment that the South Vietnamese carried was lighter and better for their needs--the US military-industrial complex burdens our Armed Forces with overly heavy things, too many of them, that actually impair our ability to fight. Perhaps even more fascinating, Zinni sees that buying equipment for our troops locally cuts the cost by 4/5th.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a fascinating look at the life of a great General. However it is General Zinni's criticism of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that has people lining up to praise or attack this book on purely ideological grounds. I've got to tell you, that is foolish no matter what "party" you subscribe to.
Look Tom Clancy is a die-hard Republican and a friend to Ronald Reagan. Zinni is a retired Marine general and former CentCom commander (which covers Iraq along with the rest of the middle-east). Zinni was highly regarded in the Bush administration who appointed him to several key jobs, including a role as special envoy to the President to the middle-east. If President Bush trusted Zinni enough to have him speak on his behalf to the leaders of key middle-eastern countries, he's clearly somebody Bush respected.
If these two guys are so moved by what Rumsfeld has done that they will criticize him publicly - maybe we should listen. If we disagree, we had better understand why, because we are disagreeing with two highly respected men with a deep understanding of military affairs. Forget all the trashy "anti-Bush" books being written out there. This isn't anti-Bush, these are two voices that Americans can trust who (in their minds at least) are trying to save the United States military from a disaster in Iraq. If anything it is anti-Rumsfeld in places, but they certainly have well qualified criticism.
I'm not sure I entirely agree with them (I supported going to war in Iraq) but so far Zinni's predictions on what would happen in Iraq have been dead on. It is his success in seeing what was coming that leads me to take a second look at what he has to say. I know personally I've been pretty wrong about what I thought would happen, and Zinni's been pretty right.
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Format: Hardcover
General Zinni is simply stating publicly what our present military leaders have been fuming about in private for months. They are furious that the iraq occupation has turned into a fiasco, and that detailed and common sense proposals for post-war iraq were pointedly ignored by Rumsfeld et al., even though they were coming from the top brass in the military and the state department.
Also, to say that Zinni is simply just another left-wing propogandist is laughable. He supported and voted for George Bush in 2000, and like a growing number of republicans, he now regrets that support.
That a former CENTCOM commander should be making these criticisms of our current commander-in-chief should give every conservative in this country pause for thought.
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Format: Hardcover
Tom Clancy lives up to his reputation...he has chalked up another best seller. "Battle Ready," is a stirring narrative of Anthony Zinni's legendary 40-year Marine Corps career.
Clancy's eloquent certification of Major General Zinni's military credentials provides a formidable platform for a very tough critque of the intellecutual authors of the United States invasion of Iraq. Moreover, Clancy's well-known hawkish convictions adds volume to Zinni's powerful charge that the Bush administration failed the American people.
The former United States Central Command Commander in Chief points many fingers...and backs it up with solid facts. Zinni is a classic gentleman and officer and like many other Marines I know from Philadelphia...he tells it like it is. To this end, Zinni has articulated the most powerful charges I have ever seen a retired Marine Corps officer use against an administration at war. Highly recommended.
Bert Ruiz
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