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

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,168 ratings  ·  91 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
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
Joseph Stieb
This is a deeply in-depth and interesting account of the prewar military planning, the invasion itself, and the immediate postwar aftermath. It is clearly and engagingly written and comprehensive. G and T have a balanced but incisive critique of the Bush administration and military's strategy for Iraq. They praise the military in several respects, including its proficiency in joint warfare, its rapid victory, and its avoidance of civilian casualties during the invasion. However, they find severa ...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.
Found the book fairly dry. Hard to follow all the names. I listened to it while traveling and didn't have internet access everywhere--would have been helpful to have had a cheat sheet of military rankings to make more sense of the individuals' roles.

The degree of incompetence and injury or death by friendly fire was quite troubling.

So was the fact that Rumsfield was so blind to the needs regarding military occupation, both before and after the war. How depressing that he continues to claim that
Outdated now, but also very informative if you weren't paying attention the first time.
Robert Snow
This is a good book on the lead up and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It speaks to the mechanics, the personalities and the politics of war in the 21st Century. Today as we look back to the invasion of Iraq almost everyone holds the opinion that there were no WMD in Iraq or that Saddam had dismantled his WMD programs years earlier. But, 2003 was a very different time with the loss of almost 3000 civilians on 9/11 still fresh in the minds of Washington both political parties were going to protect the ...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
Rex Michael
This account starts with the macroview, the browbeating and micromanagement of Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and his rigid world-view and "intel-to-please" that met with his NeoCon world-view and fantasy that guided General Tommy Franks' ill-fated adventure into Iraq, and takes us through the microview, the more granular level of various units as they ventured into Iraq. Compelling, and incredible in its access to various components that make the book a must for students of the history ...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
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
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
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
Josh McAdams
It's those pesty neo-cons faults. Highly political.
I strongly recommend reading Fiasco and Cobra II together.
Michael O'Brien
Terrific insight on the Iraq invasion of 2003
Ryan Atwood
I learned a lot from this fresh, detailed perspective of the conflict in Iraq. I feel like I am much better informed about what happened and what lead to the long drawn out conflict there.
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
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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.

More about Michael R. Gordon...
The End Game: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama The Generals' War: The Inside Story Of The Conflict In The Gulf Real War: How the Persian Gulf War Was Actually Fought Conflict And Consensus In Labour's Foreign Policy, 1914 1965

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