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The Surge: A Military History (Encounter Broadsides) Hardcover – October 25, 2008
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While overall Kagan does provide a detailed account of the surge, it's important to note a few caveats. First, her husband, Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, was one of the surge's architects. Therefore, Kim Kagan is hardly an objective or dispassionate analyst. Second, although extensively footnoted, a large proportion of her citations come from military press briefings. In other words, the organization tasked with implementing the surge is also the organization she relies on for much of her data.
It is extensively researched and rich with detail. At times it slips into a dry chronicle of events and places emphasis on exposition over interpretation. There is also a strong (and successful) effort to organize the information so that it presents a bigger picture, which came at the expense of more human anecdotes. This is clearly a work by a historian, not a journalist, and so it may be of more interest to the professional rather than general reader. The information is quite current as of publication, and one senses that the publication schedule may have emphasized timeliness over more careful analysis and organization.
The author brings a special perspective to the events detailed, as a professional historian, a teacher and colleague to many of those who fought in it, an adviser to those who planned it, and as one of its more visible advocates on the American political scene. Many of the conclusions to be drawn from it are startling and at variance with the comfortable cliches of our domestic debates. The discussion on the role of Iran, and the role of Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish-al-Mahdi, was particularly illuminating on certain aspects which have been underreported in other venues.