Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
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Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  997 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Written by the chief military correspondent of the New York Times and a prominent retired Marine general, this is the definitive account of the invasion of Iraq.A stunning work of investigative journalism, Cobra II describes in riveting detail how the American rush to Baghdad provided the opportunity for the virulent insurgency that followed. As Gordon and Trainor show, th...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2006)
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First and last several chapters cover politics and planning -- the latter mostly lacking unless supplied by Don Rumsfeld. In between is an extended account of the conflict and US forces moved north to Baghdad and beyond.

Pages 82-83 and 501: Had there been any WMD, Rumsfeld's plan to make war with a light mobile force would have resulted in the most feared counter-measure: the spread of WMD to terrorists before enough troops could find and control the WMD and prevent it falling into the hands of...more
starts a little slow with pages filled with acronyms and then becomes flowing military history with true 'Bradley Fighting Vehicle's eye view' of the combat onslaught of US forces into Iraq. contains both air and land military activities and information about the political situation surrounding the invasion and subsequent occupation. thoughtful quotations and clear benefit from the teamwork between the New York Times editor and the Marine general, and the Marines' slightly less coverage compared...more
This is the very disturbing story of how a handful of politicos can lead a nation into a war in which the rationale for going to war was completely flawed. The same people who were so gung ho for going to war also gave almost no thought to what was going to happen after the goal of toppling Saddam Hussein was achieved. This should be a cautionary tale, but our American leaders never seem to learn from past mistakes.

This should be required reading for all presidential administrations on how NOT t...more
No matter what you think about the war-you should read this book. It is riveting and made me think. It has been described as one of the best books ever written on the modern military, and I can see why.

There is a good amount of military-speak, but the authors have a glossary that helps you through.

If you know anyone in the military, or are concerned about what the hell is going on over there, read this book.

If you're looking for a narrative of the second US-Iraq War then this is the book for you (told, of course, entirely from the American point of view but then we haven't left much of a publishing industry in Iraq, have we).

If you're looking for an analysis of consequences, you're not going to find it here. (Consider that Gordon is the second fiddle to the NYT's Judith Miller's pre-war WMD puff pieces.)
Cobra II illustrates the many failings of the military campaign in Iraq, and reveals that they could possibly have been avoided with just a little more planning. Who'd have thought? It's an excellent read though if you want all the specifics on just how things went wrong, and how badly.
Outdated now, but also very informative if you weren't paying attention the first time.
Apr 12, 2009 Eric_W is currently reading it
Some interesting tidbits so far:

1. Both Saddam and the United States failed on intelligence. Saddam was not worried about the U.S., but he was terrified of a Shiite rebellion in the south, similar to the one he put down so brutally after the first Gulf War.

2. Saddam wanted to show the world that he did not have any WMD. He sent orders to his commanders to make sure that the sites had been cleaned up and no WMD were present in preparation for weapons inspectors. He did not want to give the U.S. a...more
Steven Peterson
This is a must read book on the military strategy and tactics in the invasion of Iraq. One can only be impressed with the swift victory and the valor of American troops. The use of information direct from the front gives this book a genuine sense of authenticity regarding the war. For details about the invasion of Iraq, this is a "must read."

Equally important, though, is the brief concluding analysis by the authors of what happened after the successful capture of Baghdad. And this, of course, i...more
This book gave me a new perspective on the Iraq war, what led up to it and how it was initially fought. The first part of the book delves into why Iraq was chosen and all of the war planning that took place. The second part deals with the invasion itself, the battles and troop movements. The last part touches on the post regime collapse issues and the counterinsurgency that followed. One of the things about the book that I greatly appreciated was the maps. There were about 17 maps and one organi...more
As others have commented, an excellent campion book to Bob Woodward's State of Denial. Where Woodward provided insight into the personalities of the players, Gordon provides effective descriptions of on the ground combat during the initial stages of the conflict. He also shows how many seemingly small issues contributed to the difficulties during reconstruction (why can a nation that can put a man on the moon not provide electricity to Baghdad).

The Epilogue alone is worth reading. Gordon lays o...more
This was a very interesting book. The authors certainly aren't experts on special operations, though...
Also, Douglas Feith, Rumsfeld's undersecretary for policy has authored a book entitled War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, which lays out a reasonable defense of the policies that the authors criticize. I personally agree with Gordon and Bernard, but definitely check out Feith's book as well.
I can't find the document "Team Tank: Armor in Support of Special...more
We Weep; those of us who supported the decision to invade Iraq and those of us who did not.

The authors present the pageant of blunders that is the Iraq War. This is a disheartening account of the decisions and events that has led us to where we are today. Whether you supported the initial decision to invade or not, the questions before all of us today, are what do we do now, and what must be done to resolve the Iraq dilemma. To address these decisions we must have some understanding of what hap...more
This book is one of the few analyses of the invasion of Iraq that does a neutral, qualified, military analysis of the invasion and the events leading up to it. This book is not necessarily about the politics of the invasion, it is about the war from the warfighters stand point. General Trainor and Mr Gordon do a fine job getting through all of the fluff and examining what happened, what the people that made it happen did, and what they were thinking when they did it. The final chapter is the key...more
A good but ultimately unsatisfying military history of the recent war in Iraq. Early chapters focus on the run-up to the war from the perspective of the defense agencies; there's plenty of politics here but the focus is definitely military. Once we shift to the invasion itself the action picks up but the scope of the book also narrows. There is much discussion of those in charge of the battlefield, the decisions they had to make and the setbacks they had to work around, and this manages to hold...more
John Wiswell
Aug 13, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has an opinion on the Iraq War
You really don't deserve to have an opinion on the Iraq War unless you were a part of it or read this book. This is as unbiased as it gets until the authors' notes at the very end. This is the real, thoroughly documented history. It is studded with staggering anecdotes of ignorance and culture clash, but it never uses these to paint a picture of anything but history. If you don't care what actually happened, you don't deserve to hold an opinion. This is more important than a hundred Fahrenheit 9...more
Sean Hawk
Sep 15, 2007 Sean Hawk rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Every American Citizen
This book is a rather frightening account of just how out of control our system of government is. While presented mainly from the perspective of the military infrastructure, you get a slight peek at the machinations behind the second Iraq war.

Ultimately, what I see in this book is how resilient human beings can be in the face of utter catastrophe. The US Military commanders have contributed to the mess without doubt, but they were operating from a deficit of knowledge, intelligence and sanity i...more
Aug 26, 2007 JK rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: military buffs
5 stars for the first 200 pages
2 stars for the rest

The first 200 pages of this book were a fascinating tale into the lead up to the Iraq war. The decisions that were made, the stories that led to those decisions, and the ultimate trials and tribulations that resulted will be studied for a very long time. After the start of the war, the book becomes very detailed into what military actions took place on the ground. Although interesting, I was more taken by the politics at the beginning then the d...more
Cobra II is the military operation name for the Iraq invasion. A journalist's meticulous documentation of the events leading up to and during the Iraq invasion. Paints an interesting picture of Rummy and the rest of the administration as they make the various decisions that got us here. It also provides a window into the deliberations and thought processes of Saddam and his regime leading up to the invasion. If you can stand all of the military acronyms and don't mind the very dry writing, it's...more
Will Byrnes
Cobra II is a major work. It is in this that it is made eminently clear that it is Rummy who was in charge of troop numbers. He pressured the generals, particularly Franks, to reduce the numbers over and over and over again until the General(s), knowing what was good for him/them, acceded.

The war itself was fraught with miscommunications, incompatibilities and wildly inaccurate assumptions. In one instance several Air Force bombers were unable to make it all the way back home from their mission...more
This was an informative book. It’s perspective to me was one where its view was more panoramic than detailed in nature. It followed the general history of the war, with some details and stories of a couple of units, but didn’t get into detailed accounts. It contains a portion of the story when the US military performed Thunder Runs into Bagdad. If you are interested in hearing more about that, there is another book that treats that subject individually (Thunder Run, by David Zucchino and Mark Bo...more
Fascinating and frustrating, this book documents all the planning for the Iraq invasion and the lack of planning for the occupation. 10 years after the fact it is interesting to review the beginning of the conflict.

Why I started this book: It was one of the longer audio's that I ripped and so I wanted to tackle it.

Why I finished it: It was difficult especially with all the political planning at the beginning. I wanted to jump in my time machine over and over again and scream that it wasn't going...more
Brian Hansen
May 21, 2008 Brian Hansen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the current situation in Iraq or military history
Recommended to Brian by: College Professor
I was given this by my military history professor to read for the course. We ended up not using it that much, but I decided to read it anyway. It was a really good book describing the planning of the second Iraq War and the goals of the people who masterminded the effort. It really enlightened me as to the current situation and why things are the way they are. The only problem I had with the book was that it was a slow read and at around 600 pages that took a while to get through. It was a great...more
This really is the most thorough explanation of the events surrounding the Iraq war. The authors have done an incredible job compiling information from a seemingly endless list of sources. The attention to detail is unmatched. That being said, this book is very dense and full of acronyms and jargon that many readers may not be used to. For a brief description of the Iraq War this is not your place to start, however, if you are looking for high level information this book is the gold standard.
This book is an unflinching look at the collosal fuck-ups by those at the highest levels of government that led to the current mess in Iraq, written by two men who should know. I was reading this book in a coffee shop, growing increasingly angry at my government one day, when I stepped outside and was accosted by a representative of the DNC. He asked me for a donation and I immediately slapped a large bill in his hand and signed up to volunteer with local campaigns.
B Doyle
Dec 21, 2007 B Doyle rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in the mechanics of OIF
Cobra II provides a worthy account of the planning and execution of OIF in 2002/03. However, the book is clearly partaking in the national contrition which occurred after the onset of insurgency there. While the principal architects of the war effort do deserve primary responsibility for the failures, and successes, of OIF, the book almost completely ignores the long standing institutional attitudes and cultures which set the stage for OIF miscalculations.
Written in the shortly after the capture of Hussein, there is alot that we know that did not make the book. From a military history standpoint a very concise in depth look at the years and years of planning that went into the invasion, and in hindsight hints toward the issues in the country that we have faced in the last five years since this publication. More for the history buff and not for the politico.
A lot of repeated information if you have read State of Denial, which is the better book. If Denial is a look at the politcal lead up to the war, then Cobra is the inside story of the military lead up. The sound input of seasoned generals was ignored by a Bush Regime bent on war. An empathetic look at a miltary forced into war undermanned and without time or resources to form a follow up plan.
Jorge Santos
Depressing book thought it's not meant to be. It tracks the lead in to the war in Iraq along with the battles up to the fall of Baghdad. It does not track the insurgency that follows but clearly lays out, through official documents and interviews with the people that made the decisions, where the mistakes were made from logistics, to underestimating the Iraqis and more. Very good.
This book had a lot of great information on the prosecution and background of the Iraq war- I learned a lot of things that I did not know about the strategy and predictions (as well as the disagreement between the U.S. officials involved)that were made prior to going. I would have rated it higher for the information content alone but the book was a slow read.
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MICHAEL R. GORDON is the chief military correspondent for The New York Times, where he has worked since 1985. He is the coauthor, with Bernard E. Trainor, of The Generals' War and Cobra II.

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