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Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq First Edition Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0375422621
ISBN-10: 0375422625
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On one level, narrator Wasson's mostly neutral delivery is apt. The authors' dispassionate prose imparts their impeccably researched story of the 2003 Iraq invasion—from concept to insurgency. Sourced at the highest levels, Cobra II captures the fog of war and war planning. But Wasson's read too often feels routine, as if recounting a local board meeting. Because he renders the numerous players and backdrops with equal tones, differentiating between them can be a challenge. This style of narration creates an anti-tension when juxtaposed with the book's revelations that an invasion plan was being formed not long after September 11, despite administration denials. Strictly supervising the plan was defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was intent on transforming the military into a lighter, leaner force. False assumptions, faulty intelligence, willful ignorance, personal politics and a lack of foresight all fed into the invasion strategy and subsequent messy outcome. During the audiobook's second half, which documents the march to Baghdad and enemy engagements, Wasson's energy picks up and he paints some impressive scenes of war. But in the end, a more vibrant read would have better complemented the significance of this penetrating work. Gordon reads the introduction and epilogue.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A work of prodigious research, Cobra II will likely become the benchmark by which other histories of the Iraq invasion are measured.”—The New York Times “Magisterial . . . With mountains of fresh detail on the war’s planning and progress with judicious analysis, Cobra II . . . will be hard to improve upon.” —The Economist“Stands as the best account of the war to dateÉoffers an instructive lesson on the consequences of inadequate strategic planning.”—The Washington Post Book World“ExcellentÉ Cobra II is everything that the Bush administration's plan for the war was not. It is meticulously organized, shuns bluff and bombast for lapidary statements, and is largely impervious to attack.”—The New York Times Book Review“RemarkableÉ a classic military history of the blow-by-blow fighting to Baghdad. Cobra II makes an irrefutable case for where the laurels lay for the victors and where the blame lies for the defeats.”—The Portland Oregonian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375422625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375422621
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I must say that having almost completed Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq that I'm relieved by the fairness of the book. While it does point up an abundant list of mistakes in judgement by those at the highest levels of the command structure, it also makes clear that war is a foggy business at best. It is my opinion only that Cobra II avoids the pitfalls and traps by staying as impartial as possible. I found no axex being ground for either the right or the left.

I am also impressed by the degree of access to materials that Gordon must have had access to. I know that the prepub releases mentioned that Gordon had unprecedented access to both reports and personnel in researching this book. That is even more apparent as you read through the content. Gordon, who is chief military correspondent for the New York Times does a masterful job of telling the story of the Iraq War. Retired General Trainor, a Marines Marine, lends his insight and expertise and I'm sure made sure that Gordon stayed on task.

All together, Cobra II is a masterful book, written by two experienced individuals....experts in their respective fields. I think you will feel informed in a way that perhaps you haven't felt in the past after reading this book. You'll want to read this one.
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Format: Hardcover
When it comes to writing a book about the inner workings of the war plan in Iraq and its execution, one can hardly think of a better suited team than Michael Gordon, the chief military correspondent for the NY Times and General Bernard Trainor, formerly of the Marines and now a noted academic. This teams first work, a history of the first Gulf War, is the definitive work on the subject. With unparalleled sources and careful analysis, these two men bring the readers a front seat view of the Iraq War. What they find, to put it bluntly, is not pretty.

Far from a well coordinated strategy, their work paints a portrait of a war plan almost entirely driven by twin ideological beliefs, the first being that a military victory could be won by a small agile army of fewer than 100,000 men and the second that their would be no need for a long term American presence. The reason for the last belief, so tragically mistaken in retrospect, was the idea that the Iraqis would quickly and peacefully form a civil society and, to the degree it was needed the international community would pick up the slack. The holders of these two beliefs? Vice President Dick Cheney and Sec. Def. Rumsfeld, to whom President Bush gave full authority to run the war as they saw fit. As this work demonstrates with a shocking degree of detail, all those who opposed this world view found themselves sidelined in the lead up and the execution of the war.

Gordon and Trainor offer examples such as the State Department and Sec. Powell who warned the President, the VP, and the Sec. Def of the near certainty of a break down of civil society following the conflict. They were ignored. Military officers with experience in Bosnia and Haiti made raised similar warnings. They too were ignored.
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Format: Hardcover
"Cobra II" provides a detailed accounting of the planning and execution of the Iraq War. The heroism and bravery of American troops under fire was well-documented and moving; unfortunately, there was also much to report about many at the top - how their incompetence and arrogance bungled the handling of post-war Iraq, has thrown the entire outcome into chaos, and has cost innumerable lives.

Bush II, prior to his election, signaled that he wanted to overhaul the U.S. military - Gulf I had taken too long to plan and execute. Bush also did not see the need for lengthy peacekeeping and nation-building, such as the U.S. had undertaken in the Balkans. These viewpoints were presumably major factors in selecting Donald Rumsfeld, who shared them, as Secretary of Defense.

From the very beginning military leaders recommended close to 500,000 troops for Iraq, especially for the post-war phase. Rumsfeld, showing irritation at the first presentation of such a plan, was asked by Chief of Staff "How many did he thought might be needed?" Rumsfeld's reply was 125,000, "and even that was probably too many." The military's plan reflected long-standing military principles about force levels needed to defeat Iraq, control a population greater than 24 million, and secure a nation that size of California, with porous borders. Rumsfeld's numbers, in contrast, seemed to be pulled out of thin air.

Many planning iterations and about 1.5 years later, the U.S. attacked Iraq with the number of troops Rumsfeld initially fixed on. The U.S., however, was not alone in making major miscalculations. Saddam's top priority was internal threats and Iran - the U.S. was a distant third. According to Saddam, the Republican Guard had stopped the U.S.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is well written and well organized. It provides a useful big picture sense of how the war was planned, the internal friction between different governmental and military constituencies, and the failure of Franks and the NSC to provide a useful counterweight to Rumsfeld's attempt to turn the Iraq campaign into a showcase for "transformation."

The book is also strong insofar as it details at a very high level of detail the fighting from March to June of 2003. "Fiasco" and other Iraq books have tended to treat this phase of the war as uninteresting, but we should not forget at the time that we were warned of a Stalingrad-like conventional campaign. Instead, the US soundly defeated the Iraqi conventional military, just as it did in the first Gulf War.

The book has a number of important flaws. First, it has little on the failures of international diplomacy to secure allies before the war, Turkish land routes, or European contributions to the post-war planning. It also gives short shrift to allies in its history of Cobra II, omitting even a detailed discussion of the British campaign in Basra.

Second, like "Fiasco" and Bob Woodward's new book, it often has unverifiable sources. A reader or scholar cannot really weigh evidence from an unnamed senior military official giving his information on an unknown date. The authors also fail to disclose any plans to keep their data in archival format or otherwise make it available to scholars. This book is merely the simulation of a scholarly history; it is, instead, simply a lengthy piece of journalism, with all of the flaws of that idiom.
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