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An epic history of the decline of American military leadership—from the bestselling author of Fiasco and Churchill and Orwell.
While history has been kind to the American generals of World War II—Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley—it has been less kind to the generals of the wars that followed, such as Koster, Franks, Sanchez, and Petraeus. In The Generals, Thomas E. Ricks sets out to explain why that is. In chronicling the widening gulf between performance and accountability among the top brass of the U.S. military, Ricks tells the stories of great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and generals who failed themselves and their soldiers. In Ricks’s hands, this story resounds with larger meaning: about the transmission of values, about strategic thinking, and about the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails.
"Staggeringly vivid and persuasive . . . absolutely essential reading." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"The best account yet of the entire war." —Vanity Fair
The definitive account of the American military's tragic experience in Iraq
Fiasco is a masterful reckoning with the planning and execution of the American military invasion and occupation of Iraq through mid-2006, now with a postscript on recent developments. Ricks draws on the exclusive cooperation of an extraordinary number of American personnel, including more than one hundred senior officers, and access to more than 30,000 pages of official documents, many of them never before made public. Tragically, it is an undeniable account—explosive, shocking, and authoritative—of unsurpassed tactical success combined with unsurpassed strategic failure that indicts some of America's most powerful and honored civilian and military leaders.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017
A dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who preserved democracy from the threats of authoritarianism, from the left and right alike.
Both George Orwell and Winston Churchill came close to death in the mid-1930's—Orwell shot in the neck in a trench line in the Spanish Civil War, and Churchill struck by a car in New York City. If they'd died then, history would scarcely remember them. At the time, Churchill was a politician on the outs, his loyalty to his class and party suspect. Orwell was a mildly successful novelist, to put it generously. No one would have predicted that by the end of the 20th century they would be considered two of the most important people in British history for having the vision and courage to campaign tirelessly, in words and in deeds, against the totalitarian threat from both the left and the right. In a crucial moment, they responded first by seeking the facts of the matter, seeing through the lies and obfuscations, and then they acted on their beliefs. Together, to an extent not sufficiently appreciated, they kept the West's compass set toward freedom as its due north.
It's not easy to recall now how lonely a position both men once occupied. By the late 1930's, democracy was discredited in many circles, and authoritarian rulers were everywhere in the ascent. There were some who decried the scourge of communism, but saw in Hitler and Mussolini "men we could do business with," if not in fact saviors. And there were others who saw the Nazi and fascist threat as malign, but tended to view communism as the path to salvation. Churchill and Orwell, on the other hand, had the foresight to see clearly that the issue was human freedom—that whatever its coloration, a government that denied its people basic freedoms was a totalitarian menace and had to be resisted.
In the end, Churchill and Orwell proved their age's necessary men. The glorious climax of Churchill and Orwell is the work they both did in the decade of the 1940's to triumph over freedom's enemies. And though Churchill played the larger role in the defeat of Hitler and the Axis, Orwell's reckoning with the menace of authoritarian rule in Animal Farm and 1984 would define the stakes of the Cold War for its 50-year course, and continues to give inspiration to fighters for freedom to this day. Taken together, in Thomas E. Ricks's masterful hands, their lives are a beautiful testament to the power of moral conviction, and to the courage it can take to stay true to it, through thick and thin.
Churchill and Orwell is a perfect gift for the holidays!
Thomas E. Ricks uses hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with top officers in Iraq and extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to document the inside story of the Iraq War since late 2005 as only he can, examining the events that took place as the military was forced to reckon with itself, the surge was launched, and a very different war began.
Since early 2007 a new military order has directed American strategy. Some top U.S. officials now in Iraq actually opposed the 2003 invasion, and almost all are severely critical of how the war was fought from then through 2006. At the core of the story is General David Petraeus, a military intellectual who has gathered around him an unprecedented number of officers with both combat experience and Ph.D.s. Underscoring his new and unorthodox approach, three of his key advisers are quirky foreigners—an Australian infantryman-turned- anthropologist, an antimilitary British woman who is an expert in the Middle East, and a Mennonite-educated Palestinian pacifist.
The Gamble offers news-breaking account, revealing behind-the-scenes disagreements between top commanders. We learn that almost every single officer in the chain of command fought the surge. Many of Petraeus’s closest advisers went to Iraq extremely pessimistic, doubting that the surge would have any effect, and his own boss was so skeptical that he dispatched an admiral to Baghdad in the summer of 2007 to come up with a strategy to replace Petraeus’s. That same boss later flew to Iraq to try to talk Petraeus out of his planned congressional testimony. The Gamble examines the congressional hearings through the eyes of Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and their views of the questions posed by the 2008 presidential candidates.
For Petraeus, prevailing in Iraq means extending the war. Thomas E. Ricks concludes that the war is likely to last another five to ten years—and that that outcome is a best case scenario. His stunning conclusion, stated in the last line of the book, is that “the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered by us and by the world have not yet happened.”
The United States Marine Corps, with its proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth. Making the Corps visits the front lines of boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina. Here, old values are stripped away and new Marine Corps values are forged. Bestselling author Thomas E. Ricks follows these men from their hometowns, through boot camp, and into their first year as Marines. As three fierce drill instructors fight a battle for the hearts and minds of this unforgettable group of young men, a larger picture emerges, brilliantly painted, of the growing gulf that divides the military from the rest of America.
Included in this edition is an all-new afterword from the author that examines the war in Iraq through the lens of the Marines from Platoon 3086, giving readers an on-the-ground view of the conflict from those who know it best.
Tanto George Orwell como Winston Churchill vieron peligrar su vida a mediados de la década de 1930: Orwell por un disparo en el cuello en la guerra civil española y Churchill en un accidente de coche en Nueva York. De haber muerto entonces, la historia apenas les recordaría. Churchill era un político acabado, sospechoso para su clase y para su propio partido, y Orwell era un novelista del que como mucho se habría podido decir que tenía un éxito moderado.
Ambos mantenían una actitud antitotalitaria que no contaba con demasiados partidarios en aquella época. La democracia había quedado desacreditada en muchos círculos y los dirigentes autoritarios, de uno y otro color, estaban, en cambio, al alza. Churchill y Orwell, cada uno por su lado, fueron capaces de ver que lo que se hallaba en peligro era la libertad del ser humano y que, ya fuera comunista o fascista, un Gobierno que negaba a la población sus derechos constituía una amenaza contra la que había que luchar.
Los dos, uno en la arena política y el otro en el campo de las letras, demostraron en los años siguientes estar a la altura de los tiempos. Y aunque Churchill jugó un papel mayor en la derrota de Hitler y el Eje, Orwell creó con Rebelión en la granja y 1984 dos metáforas inmortales sobre los peligros del totalitarismo cuya influencia llega hasta hoy. Sus vidas, las de ambos, fueron un canto al poder de las convicciones morales, y al valor que se requiere para mantenerse fiel a ellas, contra viento y marea.
Just as Sherman and Lewis ease into their jobs — and into a deepening romance — a secret pressure group of military officers called the Sons of Liberty begins to carry out covert protests, symbolic at first, against White House policy. It is with shock that Lewis comes to suspect the group’s leader is his own boss and hero, General B.Z. Ames, and that the man in the center of Ames’s target is Sherman’s boss, General John Shillingworth. As the White House keeps the army grinding through a miserable third-world brushfire war, the Sons of Liberty’s activities grow more treasonous, and their efforts to avoid detection more ruthless, until Majors Sherman and Lewis find themselves in a vicious game with life-and-death stakes and the future of the American military hanging in the balance.