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The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama Hardcover – September 25, 2012
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Praise for Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor's The Endgame:
“Likely to stand for decades as the definitive account of the Iraq war. . . . [A] tour de force of contemporary history. . . . The best tribute we can pay to the Iraq veterans is to remember what they did, and that is precisely the achievement of [The Endgame].”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Meticulous. . . . Persuasive. . . . Should be required reading. . . . Thanks to the authors’ extraordinary research and sobriety, the accumulation of one well-documented fact after another is compelling. . . . ‘Regime change’ means not only getting rid of a bad regime but also finding a way to replace it with something better. The Endgame shows just how hard that process can be—and, by implication, how crazy it is to start a war without good plans for how to finish it”
—The New York Times
“Ambitious. . . . A well-researched, highly critical look at U.S. policy in Iraq. . . . Ultimately, The Endgame invites the question whether President Obama threw his support behind the wrong war.”
—Newsweek/The Daily Beast
“The devil of the story is in the details, and the authors do a superb job of providing them. . . . Likely to be considered definitive for some time to come.”
—The Washington Times
“A solid chronicle of the Iraq War, emphasizing military maneuvers and Iraqi participation at all levels. . . . A deliberate, chronological construction of events. . . . A straightforward, evenhanded account of the nine-year slog that began as a ‘war of choice’ and became ‘a war of necessity.’“
“A fantastic book . . . highly anticipated and a must-read on this subject.”
—Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”
“Gordon is considered by many to be the best reporter on the Iraq war . . . his long-awaited book is likely to shed new light particularly on the last half-decade of U.S. involvement.”
“An epic piece of work.”
—Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC
“What Michael Gordon has written is correct.”
—Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
“If you want to know about this painful and critical episode of American history, you have to read these books.”
—James Rosen, Fox News
“Gordon and Trainor’s most ambitious and news-breaking book to date. A peerless work of investigative journalism and historical recreation ranging from 2003 to 2012, it gives us the first comprehensive, inside account of arguably the most widely reported yet least understood war in American history.”
—Frogen Yozurt Online Magazine
About the Author
Michael R. Gordon is the chief military correspondent for The New York Times, where he has worked since 1985. He is the coauthor, with Lieutenant General Bernard E. Trainor, of The Generals’ War and Cobra II. He has covered the Iraq and Afghan wars, the Kosovo conflict, the Russian war in Chechnya, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and the American invasion of Panama. Gordon lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
Bernard E. Trainor, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general, was a military correspondent for The New York Times from 1986 to 1990. He was director of the National Security Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government from 1990 to 1996 and was a military analyst for NBC during the Iraq War. Trainor lives in Potomac Falls, Virginia.
Top customer reviews
Title notwithstanding, The End Game starts from the beginning. The early stuff has been covered elsewhere before, but is appreciated nonetheless. In particular, The End Game is focused on the colonels and generals, rather than, as most of the books on the subject I’ve read, the highest military brass and civilian leadership.
We get the disaster of Bremer (he basically scuttled the entire Iraqi infrastructure, but never seriously invested in replacing it). In fact, the entire early war effort is a tragedy of errors. Casey was another disaster. He completely focused on a drawdown, when more and more evidence was pointing to its futility and the potential of counterinsurgency (a counterinsurgency strategy (under the guise of an “ink blot” strategy) was put forward as many as 16 months before the surge). Gordon and Trainor make a convincing case that our strategy was a failure even before Samarra blew the powder keg.
We faced two serious problems. Suuni insurgent attacks led to Shiite Iraqis terrorizing Sunni Iraqis, often using the arm of the state. That opened the door for Al Qaeda to wage war directly against the Americans in Iraq.
It’s always been fascinating to the see the slow progress from virtually full support for a drawdown to the conclusion that the full surge, not simply a small increase. Petraeus had been pushing counterinsurgency, but it was viewed with great skepticism by his superiors. President Bush may have boldly accepted a large surge, but it was the generals on the ground who set the strategy for how the additional battalions would be used.
The Sunni Awakening was one of the great surprises of the Iraq War. For all the arguments for the Surge, the effect of the Surge on the Awakening was not fully appreciated. The Awakening may have preceded the Surge, but the counterinsurgency tactics of the Surge took the Awakening out of Anbar. The Awakening started as “a bottom-up phenomenon driven by local Iraqis and the American units they encountered in the field. It was not something the generals . . . had organized from on high.” But recognized and appreciated, they were complementary and fed off each other.
Sadly, this isn’t a story with a happy ending. We see the political tail wagging the policy dog in an administration dominated by former Senators. Both militaries wanted a continued US military presence, but the politics for the politicians were much trickier on both sides. It was a fundamental error by both the Bush and Obama administrations to allow the Office of the Vice President greater influence than the State Department. The Office of the VP can never bring the kind of resources and infrastructure to bear that the State Department can. Despite the success of the surge, feckless decision making is leaving us back where we started before the surge. But then, I question whether, whatever the military success of the surge, we ever did the other things necessary to “win.”
This review is of the Kindle edition. Just over 20% of the Kindle edition is devoted to reference material, etc., including acknowledgments, notes (hyperlinked both ways, and taking up 12% of the Kindle edition itself), index (hyperlinked), short bios of the authors, illustrations, maps and charts, and an ‘also by.’
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