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The Gamble: General Petraeus and the Untold Story of the American Surge in Iraq, 2006 - 2008: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 Hardcover – 26 Feb 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 26 Feb 2009
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (26 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846141451
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846141454
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 599,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'It would make a great film ... Ricks tells this story to shine a light through the veil of inscrutability that masks this singular US general, the pivot on which the book turns but by no means the only actor in the story of the surge.' -- Allan Mallinson, The Times

'Powerful and illuminating'
-- Michiko Kakutani, New York Times


'This is a terrific book, and the story that Ricks tells carries complete conviction'

'Powerful and illuminating'

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Gamble is Thomas Ricks' blow-by-blow account of the conception and execution of the "surge" in Iraq and is a sequel to his well-received "Fiasco" which documented the stages of the war prior to this putative turning point (and whose title speaks for itself). Ricks belongs to the Woodward school of history, providing detail of the protagonists' inner thoughts and conversations throughout based on triangulated interviews. Thus his narrative takes on the pace and tone at times of a novel. He tracks the genesis of the surge from the development of counterinsurgency doctrine at Fort Leavenworth through its reluctant adoption by the US Army and Marines in the field and its cooption by the President's men who were desperately seeking a face saving alternative to withdrawal. The story, necessarily, has a different balance from Bob Woodward's "The War Within", as Ricks points out.

The change in approach to the occupation in Iraq promoted by General David Petraeus and General Raymond Odierno has been termed the "Surge" because of the defiantly, counter tidal move by President Bush to commit more forces at a time when virtually everyone including most of the generals in place was demanding a stepdown. In fact, the change was more characterized by an entire shift in doctrine (which to be sure required more boots on the ground) radically resetting the mission from "kill and capture" insurgents to protect the Iraqi people. This shift in mental paradigm altered how the forces behaved and how they were received by the local population. Although there were many initial casualties it worked as a means of greatly reducing violence and creating a degree of what Petraeus calls "sustainable stability.
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By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
The travails of us policy and military engagement in Iraq have been dominating the news for the better part of five years since the invasion in 2003 until some time in 2008. The reason is quite obvious: what was supposed to be a very quick and decisive military operation that would turn Iraq into a free and peaceful society turned out to be a military and political disaster. And yet the news from Iraq stopped dominating the headlines some time in 2008. The reason for this dramatic turnaround is quite clear: it is the new US strategy that was designed to increase the number of US troops on the ground and engage with the Iraqi society on a much more direct basis. This strategy and the way that it came about is the theme of this book. Unlike many other books that have come out in recent years, this one is largely written from the military's point of view. If there is a single name that come to symbolize "The Surge" that would be the name of general Petraeus. Unjustifiably maligned by some war opponents early on in his new assignment of turning the situation in Iraq around, he has become a stellar example of professionalism and success with one of the most difficult military assignments ever. But Petraeus was not the only one in the military who contributed to the development of the new strategy. There are many others, either on active duty or as civilian advisers, who have helped shape and develop the new strategy. This book does a very good job of describing those contributions and giving credit to people who have largely labored behind the scenes. It features many combat commanders and their troops, and it gives many examples from the frontlines that help illustrate and affirm the main points.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
For those, like me, who enjoyed, "Fiasco", this is the next episode in the continuing saga of the US`s unhappy foray into Iraq. There is something of the air of redemption in this book - "Fiasco" left off with the US and coalition forces facing almost near disaster in Iraq and indeed this book kicks off with the bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra in Febriary 2006 and Iraq`s near descent into civil war, but due to the efforts of a group of officers, such as retired General Keane, General Petraeus takes over. He and other likeminded individuals such as Odierno, his deputy, employ classic counterinsurgency tactics such as the forces living among the Iraqis to improve security - "the populace are the prize", cutting deals with the Sunni and Shia insurgents to bring them over to the US side rather than the previous "commute to work" from large bases and "insurgency on two fronts", the decline was at least halted, if not reversed.
Some of this background has already been outlined in Bob Woodward`s book - the involvement of Bush and Cheney in effecting the senior personnel changes, and the politicking surrounding the decision to proceed with the "surge" of US forces. Some of the previous reviewer`s comments re Bush are correct although Hicks is very clear that he believes the personnel and tactical changes should have been made several years earlier and that this was Bush`s responsibility.
Despite the reductions in incidents, fatalities (both military and civilian),as a result of the revised senior military line up and tactics, the book`s conclusions on the "Gamble" make sober reading. Petraeus and his successor, Odierno, very much believe that this is a a 'long war' and that a US military presence will be likely for many more years yet - redemption is therefore "work in progress".
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