Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize One of the Washington Post Book World’s 10 Best Books of the Year One of Time’s 10 Best Books of the Year USA Today’s. This is the Story of The American Military Adventure in Iraq. The Heart of the story Fiasco has to tell, which has never been told before, is that of a Military. But many officers have shared their anger with renowned military reporter Thomas E. Ricks, and in ‘Fiasco’, Ricks combines these astonishing on-the- record.

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T he big story has long been told.

We know that the Iraq war was, from the original deceptions to the lamentable “nation building”, one of the great disasters of modern international relations. Less chronicled is the small story: Thomas Ricks provides ample narrative to help us find out more. The Gamble, the sequel to Ricks’s acclaimed first account, Fiasco, tells the story of how General David Petraeus and his allies in Washington convinced George Bush to change tack, to deploy a far greater contingent of soldiers and to use them more intelligently.

The result was a significant improvement in Iraq’s security, albeit from a dismal starting point.

Thomas Ricks’ Fiasco,reviewed.

The period from mid to mid had been the bloodiest in the conflict, with more than 1, US service personnel and many, many rickss Iraqi civilians dead. The Americans were mainly holed up in their bases, making the occasional and invariably bloody incursion, but largely leaving the militias to wreak havoc.


It is the details that captivate most in this account. Ricks tells us that the massacre at Haditha, in which marines opened fire on dozens of unarmed men, women and children, “provoked less reaction in Iraq” than it did around the world.

Fiasco by Thomas E. Ricks | : Books

But this was “not for reasons that were good for the American cause. Some Iraqis said they hadn’t heard rickw news because they lacked electricity”. Ricks’s tale is based around good access and on-the-record quotes, in the style of Bob Woodward but thankfully with less personality intruding. His heroes are Petraeus, a man who would “run up to eight miles a day fiaasco by rickz minutes working out despite having a pelvis that was smashed parachuting and a damaged lung from being shot through the chest”, and Lt General Raymond Odierno, an unsung figure who played a major part in turning things around.

There is a walk-on part for one Brit, Emma Sky, who was Odierno’s chief adviser, but the only mention of the broader UK role is brief and disparaging.

Ricks notes, before hearing from American military chiefs that the occupation of Basra “had been a miserable experience fiaaco the British”, who ended up hiding in the airport. The parts about the relationship between the commanders on the ground and their military masters in Washington rocks especially compelling.


Readers learn of the Saturday nights in the Green Zone in which the generals and their aides pored over their weekly report to the president. Ultimately, it was politics back home that paved the way for the change.

The congressional elections of November precipitated the “revolt of the generals”, the author says. Donald Rumsfeld, everyone’s favourite figure of hate, departed the scene. But even with a better class of defence secretary, Robert Gates, the surge could easily have failed. It was a huge gamble, even in its own terms of trying to improve an already desperate situation. Ricks concludes, as he should, with Barack Obama.

Fiascoo six years on, the occupation is only halfway fiasck, he says, predicting that US troops will be engaged in combat in Iraq at least until – a date longer than Obama has since stated. Topics Politics books The Observer.