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Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq Hardcover – October 21, 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Among Warriors in Iraq is hard-boiled and absorbing.Mike Tucker

also has Hemingway's eye for description, particularly of warriors."



 “In Hell Is Over: Voices of the Kurds after Saddam, Mike Tucker

tells a story we should know, but would not except for his bravery.”

Senator Bob Kerrey, member of 9/11 Commission.

From the Inside Flap

The Iraq War most of us know began on March 20, 2003, with the U.S.-led invasion. In fact, it began more than eight months earlier—on July 10, 2002—when eight Americans crossed the Harburr River from Turkey into Kurdistan. Carrying side arms and assault rifles, the CIA counterterrorist team soon linked up with Kurdish peshmerga to commence their mission: strike and kill Al-Qaeda, and take down Saddam Hussein’s Baathist dictatorship.

They endured almost a year of being denied food, weapons, and ammunition by a NATO ally, Turkey, as they carried out a covert operation with profound consequences on the War on Terror, the Iraq War, and U.S. foreign policy: Operation Hotel California.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with the man who led the CIA team, Operation Hotel California tells the story of the dangerous mission that paved the way for the invasion of Iraq. In a riveting narrative, much of it in the words of the operation’s leader—publicly identified here for the first time as Charles S. “Sam” Faddis—Mike Tucker chronicles a staggering trail of corruption and incompetence by the Bush White House, from pursuing federal tax cuts rather than Al-Qaeda in spring 2001, to pandering to Turkey at the expense of America’s fight against Saddam and Islamic terrorists.

With compelling portrayals of the courageous men on Faddis’s team and first-hand accounts of how America’s finest tracked and took down the Mukhabarat assassination squads Saddam had sent to kill them, Operation Hotel California captures fully the thrills and frustrations of hunting the nation’s most fanatical enemies. And—as the most blistering indictment to date by any American counterterrorism officer of the national security blunders vis-à-vis Iraq and Al-Qaeda—it carries lessons that will reverberate in Washington and beyond for years to come.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599213664
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599213668
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William Layman on November 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
OPERATION HOTEL CALIFORNIA is a unique and riveting book about war. The reviews here run hot and cold, and that's to be expected -- this is a war book like few others.

Mike Tucker and his interview subject, the US counter-terrorist soldier Charles Faddis, combine their voices in counterpoint here. Tucker frames and story in both historic and mythic terms, while Faddis provides direct commentary on what happened when he and his team were ordered to enter Iraq in mid-2002 before the US invasion. This fugue of voice and view does not pretend to be the final word on US Iraq policy or on the events that preceded the US invasion, but it provides essential insight in two areas: (1) the egregious lack of coordination between the Bush administration and its own soldiers and allies, and (2) the way counter-terrorist teams operate and think in real time and real situations.

Faddis's accounts of action on the ground mix heroism, frustration and wit. I love the account of his team playing "Grand Theft Auto" and watching the film "Sideways" in-country, but I also love the explanations of how the team managed to take out rail lines essential to the Iraqi army in coordination with the Kurds. Faddis does not skimp on expressing his frustration: with inaccuracies in Bob Woodward's recent book, with the unwillingness of Bush administration figures to listen to the military, with failures of nerve and intelligence generally in how the administration failed to trust its own officers and troops.

Tucker's commentary -- and his policy recommendations in the book's epilogue -- strongly credits the Kurds with being the best allies of he US in the region.
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Format: Hardcover
I wish I had read the reviews here before I bought this book. A few pages into the book, I began to notice the word and idea repetition. Annoyed, I continued on, hoping that things would smooth out and the real story would begin. Unfortunately, it only got worse and by the time I got through the first chapter, I could take no more. Like another reviewer noted, I'll be selling my copy to a used book store. This book should have been edited by a competent editor before it was published. It was not and now I feel taken for $17.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all I'd like to say the book was interesting. However, I was disappointed in that it is mostly written like a transcript from Mike Tucker's interviews with Mr. Faddis. There's alot of repetitiveness in what Mr. Faddis says and frankly, he comes across as a hot-headed, teenage Lee Marvin character. Makes one wonder if his personality affects his credibility and trustworthiness. I would not pay full price for this book but if you can borrow it from someone, sign it out from a library, or get real cheap, then go ahead and read it. I hope a better organized and written account comes out on this topic in the near future.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very serious book, tells a lot about how bad our politics are and how our leaders rather listen to someone in it for money rather than true info from intel on the ground and how bad we've treated our friends; the Kurdish People and I hope we finally deliver and get them their gear they need and rebuild our friendship with them and help them any way we can. I thought Bush was a good leader, but the people around him really hurt him and their names are listed in this book. If we listened to the intel on the ground and sent them their equipment and soldiers requested, this war in Iraq and Afghanistan would be over; would of been over a few months after 9/11
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Format: Hardcover
I suffered through every page of this book, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. There were nuggets of interesting information, but, and I say this as someone who never took any of my English classes seriously, the people responsible for ensuring high-quality editing at Lyons Press should be taken out and beaten to a pulp. Many parts of this book reminded me of being in a conversation with a drunk, who repeats himself over and again, and likes to impress you with what he has to say. There are other literary devices that the authors use repeatedly that become comical in their employment (the description of the scenes in which the stories are retold, for instance.)

As a military officer, I can empathize with the obstacles he and his team faced in accomplishing the mission, but his assessment of the reasons for such obstacles is tainted by his blatant hatred of all things associated with President G.W. Bush. Even if there is some validity to certain points he makes, the over-the-top ranting calls into question the credibility of his perspective. Yes, I'm sure that there were personal agendas involved in the conduct in the war, and anyone who has ever been in that position knows that you almost never have all the resources you want nor do things usually break your way.

As a student and teacher of history, this book is of some use, hence my bumping my review up to two. The accounts of operating in Northern Iraq are interesting an a different perspective from what is offered in more popular accounts of the war like "Generation Kill." Despite the incessant complaining, the book is worth your time. The "story" 186 pages, but it's really not that long, when you take into account the wide margins and bouts of repetition.
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