Tenet, George J., with Bill Harlow. At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.
Click for comments and reviews.
Tucker, Mike, and Charles Faddis. Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq. Guildford, CT: Lyons, 2008.
Clark comment: In terms of operational detail, this work cannot compete with Schroen's First In (2005) or Berntsen's Jawbreaker (2005) on the intital operations in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. Whether this is the fault of the brave and dedicated Faddis, who led the CIA team into northern Iraq, or his journalist co-author Tucker is difficult to ascertain. In some ways, this book reads as though the journalist just turned on his pocket recorder and let Faddis take the lead in the conversation; and that Faddis too often simply vented his deeply felt frustration over the way things played out in his assignment. Were there no challenging questions? Was there no seeking for greater depth of understanding? Other than a few brief quotes from a handful of other opinionated individuals, there is no research to back up Faddis's arguments. That Faddis clearly believes Washington (he ultimately blames President Bush as the person in charge but both DCI Tenet and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are heaped with scorn as well) dropped the ball in its failure to use the CIA assets in Iraqi Kurdistan to carry the war to Saddam's forces in the north. Washington's failure to deal with Turkey's intransigence on the movement of men and supplies through Turkish territory undoubtedly hampered the team's efforts (and ultimately the entire war effort) and placed its members and their Kurdish partners at even greater risk. Rumsfeld's refusal to allow the team to be the lead operational unit in the north when the war started reeks of CIA envy. Faddis may well be correct in his appraisal of these and other matters, but it is impossible to validate on the basis of this book alone. I would have preferred to read more first-hand information about the organization and conduct of operational activities than constant (and repetitive) rants about how this effort was screwed up by Washington.
Keiser, Proceedings 135.1 (Jan. 2009), calls this an "engaging account" of the activities of an eight-man, CIA-led counterterrorist team in Iraqi Kurdistan prior to and during the formal invasion of Iraq in March 2003. However, "the book's epilogue is disappointing because it detracts from impressive combat actions by lurching into a largely unrelated agenda."
For Matt P., Studies 54.2 (Jun. 2010), Faddis "provides a litany of alleged US strategic mistakes in the preamble to the war." He is also "crudely critical of the Scorpions, the CIA-trained Iraqi-Arab force charged with conducting sabotage inside regime-controlled Iraq.... This book has limitations. The interviews with Faddis reflect one point of view, sometimes leaving the book thin on context"; and Tucker "misses opportunities to put Faddis's insights into perspective." Although it "is little more than an edited interview with one former CIA officer," the book is still "a relevant addition to intelligence discourse."
Urban, Mark. Task Force Black: The Explosive True Story of the Secret Special Forces War in Iraq. New York: St. Martin's, 2011.
Martin, Proceedings 137.9 (Sep. 2011), finds that this "stirring history" takes "the reader inside the culture of the British and U.S. Special Forces units that performed 'black' or covert operations during the Iraq war." Urban "tracks British Special Air Service and Special Boat Service operators as they work alongside their American Delta Force counterparts." This is "a gritty tale of the war."
1. The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq. New York: Random House, 2008.
Freedman, FA 88.1 (Jan.-Feb. 2009), says that the author "provides a full account of how the war has appeared to those doing the fighting."
2 And Ray L. Smith. The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division. New York: Bantam, 2003.
Warner, Studies 48.1, finds that "[t]his book is a reflection on the nature of war, and a well-told story."
Woodward, Bob. Plan of Attack. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
Series of five articles adapted from Plan of Attack, "a behind-the-scenes account of how and why President Bush decided to go to war against Iraq." [http://www.washingtonpost.com]
1. "Behind Diplomatic Moves, Military Plan Was Launched: 'We're Going to Have to Go to War,' Bush Said to Rice." Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2004, A1.
2. "With CIA Push, Movement to War Accelerated: Agency's Estimate of Saddam Hussein's Arsenal Became the White House's Rationale for Invasion." Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2004, A1.
3. "Cheney Was Unwavering in Desire to Go to War: Tension Between Vice President and Powell Grew Deeper as Both Tried to Guide Bush's Decision." Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2004, A1.
4. "Blair Steady in Support: 'I'm There to the Very End,' Prime Minister Told Bush." Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2004, A1.
5. "U.S. Aimed For Hussein As War Began: CIA Informants Told of His Suspected Whereabouts." Washington Post, 22 Apr. 2004, A1.
Wright, Evan. Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the New Face of American War. New York: Putnam, 2004. New York: Berkley, 2005. [pb]
The author was an embedded journalist with a platoon of First Reconnaissance Battalion Marines in the invasion of Iraq. This book is an expanded version of a three-part series in Rolling Stone magazine.
Zinni, Tony [GEN/USA (Ret.)], and Tony Koltz. The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Borene, Intelligencer 15.2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007), refers to this work as "a stinging criticism of the White House handling of Operation Iraqi Freedom and of our 'stove-piped' national security infrastructure. Acting constructively, Zinni also presents fresh ideas to improve the defiiencies he sees.... Zinni delivers a reformation plan to enhance interagency unity of effort and provide an expeditionary capability for the civil component of civil-military operations."
Zinsmeister, Karl. Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq. New York: St. Martin's, 2003.
Warner, Studies 48.1, finds that the author tells "a fast-paced story of urban fighting," as the 82nd cleared the southern city of Samawah. The "book is a travelogue with no index or maps -- and some gratuitous political asides."
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