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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  3,768 ratings  ·  339 reviews
Drawing on the exclusive cooperation of an extraordinary number of American military personnel, including more than one hundred senior officers, and access to more than thirty thousand pages of official documents, many of them never before made public, Thomas E. Ricks has written the definitive account of the American military's tragic experience in Iraq.
Audio CD, 1 page
Published July 25th 2006 by Penguin Group (USA)
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Although there is lots of detail provided in this aptly titled book about the fiasco that has been the US adventure in Iraq, that isn’t really the main point of this book or the reason why anyone should read it. It is also not the main lesson to be gained from reading it. This book is, more than anything else, an extended meditation on the central importance that military strategy ought to have played in the preparations, execution and (most importantly) the ‘peace’ that was to have followed the...more
When Fiasco first came out naturally there were many opinions on it, ranging from "fantastic" to "trash". I kept some of the bad reviews I'd seen and heard in mind as I read this book, trying to look for evidence to prove those bad reviews were well founded. Frankly, I didn't find any such evidence. Two things come to mind here. Firstly, in one community online that I peek into now and then I skimmed over a discussion on the boards about it a few months ago. One person argued the title of the bo...more
Jul 30, 2007 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in military, politics
Touted by John McCain and others as the definitive Iraq War book, Fiasco gives a detailed blow by blow account of the U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq. Writing as objectively as possible, Ricks nevertheless gives a scathing account of the mismanagement of the war by Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Bremer, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and the fiasco's chief architects.
The book is fascinating on many levels showing where people went wrong not only tactically but also ideologically. Interestingly, the only person w...more
Sep 26, 2007 James rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I've always enjoyed Thomas Ricks' reporting in WaPo, WSJ, etc. as well as his earlier book Making the Corps. What I appreciated most about Fiasco was its crisp prose and simple level-headedness. In that, Fiasco confirmed a belief that I have slowly been coming to, that even after we invaded Iraq, it still really might have been ok (not good, necessarily, but ok). But we blew opportunity after opportunity to do the right thing, and it really is unredeemable now. The thing that weirds me out the m...more
An excellent, clear-sighted, and well-named review of the numerous and heretofore less well known derelictions which contributed so much to the conflict in Iraq. As readers of the "Washington Post" (like me)know well, Mr. Ricks writes with considerable authority about the military. One of the best of many recent books on this subject.
I had initially "read" the audio book of Ricks' follow-up to this book, The Gamble, and was impressed enough to get the (print version) of Fiasco. It did not disappoint as a book, even if it highlighted the problems with the current Iraq War.

Ricks is a very fair judge. He speaks well of many of the fine commanders on the ground, men like Gen. David Petreaus, who are doing the best with what they have. He faults, primarily, the dual response from Washington, both civilian and some military, to se...more
An amazingly devastating analysis of the war in Iraq. The best way to describe this book is that it is this generation's The Best and the Brightest, written by David Halberstam almost four decades ago about the U.S.'s blundering into the Vietnam war. Like Halberstam, Ricks shows a passion for his subject material combined with a clarity and persuasiveness in his analysis. Anyone who reads this book and comes away unconvinced of its central argument obviously didn't read the book well enough. How...more
This is the definitive book on the Iraq War to date. It provides ample evidence that the G.W. Bush regime, along with the Pentagon and the CIA, made a false casus belli for war with Iraq, keenly anticipating an easy victory with Iraqis greeting American soldiers with garlands of flowers as liberators. That, alas, was not to be.

Furthermore, what was galling was that the U.S. had absolutely NO comprehesive plan or set of plans for rebuilding the Iraqi economy and re-establishing basic services fo...more
Steven Peterson
Retrospective on another important book published some years ago on Iraq. How has the work held up?

Thomas Ricks' book, Fiasco, was part of an increasing body of literature, featuring more and more books based on the words and experiences of insiders, government and military officials talking after the fact, raising questions about the wisdom of the original decision to invade Iraq and the occupation and "nation-building" efforts thereafter.

This work (and others as well) raises important questio...more
An amazingly well-researched, well-written, and insightful account of the War in Iraq up to 2007. Relies heavily on military sources, which gives an unique inside perspective on the policy decisions (or lack thereof) leading up to committing to the war as well as decisions during occupation. Instead of broadly categorizing individuals into the good and bad guys along the lines of hawks such as Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and doves such as Gen. Anthony Zinni, Ricks focuses more on the substantiv...more
Simon Wood

Thomas E. Ricks "Fiasco" is an account of the preperation for and invasion of Iraq and the ensuing occupation. The book gripped this reader from beginning to end it being the sort of book that causes bus stops to be missed. I was one of the many who was against the war as it came onto the agenda in 2002. I was not surprised the U.S. and the small number of other forces were not welcomed with boquets, what was astonishing was that within six months the United States had...more
Peter Buren
Author Tom Ricks is a kind of patron saint of intelligent writing about the Iraq conflicts, first as a reporter for the Washington Post and now as a blogger and author for Foreign Policy ( Ricks is known for his connections within the military, who, knowing he will handle information intelligently and better yet, understand its context, feed him inside baseball-like data on a regular basis. It is this understanding of how things work that informs Ricks’ two books...more
Feb 19, 2008 James rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone concerned about America's future
A sweeping and masterful history of the Iraq war from its beginning through mid-2006, when this was published. Ricks drew from a great number of sources, both interviews and writings published by other people - journalists, historians, Marines and soldiers, politicians. He provides useful background on the history of Iraq and to a lesser extent the region, the history of counterinsurgency warfare, and the military cultures of the Army and Marine Corps.

This is also a discouraging book, which make...more
Michael Gerald Dealino
The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on three premises:

1. Iraq under Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
2. Iraq under Saddam was in possession or developing weapons of mass destruction, and containing him through sanctions and no-fly zones was not working.
3. Iraqis would welcome their liberation from Saddam's dictatorship.

Unfortunately, the first two premises were later proven to be false and partly based on fabrication. The third premise was initially true, but was undermi...more
Greg Snyder
I very much enjoyed reading Fiasco. It took almost a month but it had a lot of parts that left you thinking. The time frame for the book was 2001 to 2006. The US invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. There was supposed to be 4 parts to this invasion. Our government had no plan for 4th part which was occupying the country. We lost a lot of good Americans because of this. The administration was blind to the reality of what was going on in Iraq and just kept saying how well it was goi...more
Frederick Bingham
I listened to an abridged version of this on CD.Ricks describes the history of the war in Iraq from the viewpoint of the American military. It is clear the war was botched up from the very beginning by the higher-ups. He skewers many of the major players, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Tenet, Powell, Cheney, Bush and Bremer. Special condemnation goes to General Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq for the crucial mid-'2003 to mid-'2004 period. Sanchez's imagination-free leadership led to the rise of...more
The author clearly is no fan of the current administration, so that should be understood when reading this. Also, this is history on the fly. Over the years, many more things will be written about this war. But as a first take, it is pretty clear that the United States entered Iraq without the proper intelligence and without a good plan for what should happen once Saddam was deposed. The book also shows dissension in the military and questions raised up and down the chain of command. It also, to...more
Duncan Mandel
Fiasco is a more strongly worded title than you might expect a seasoned military reporter such as Thomas E. Ricks to use, accustomed as he is to the even-handed style of daily newspaper journalism. But Ricks, the Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post and the author of the acclaimed account of Marine Corps boot camp, Making the Corps, has written a thorough and devastating history of the war in Iraq from the planning stages through the continued insurgency in early 2006, and he d...more
I couldn't get into the book. I admit the only reason I even bought this book is because it happens to have quotes by a few of the Soldiers that were in the same unit as my husband in Iraq. I'm not a political person and I have my own views on the war in Iraq and most of what Ricks wrote about I was already aware of so it's nothing new just a liberal point of view on it. I didn't finish reading it. Maybe someday but not right now.
As far as an analysis of US governmental and military planning and policy, this book is excellent. But Ricks fails in a broader analysis that includes the Iraqi people and sometimes makes generalizations about cultural issues. Particularly his forecasts for the future turmoil of Iraq are Orienalist. Just keep this in mind when you're reading and know that it's best for its look at US policy, not Iraq and its people.
Kafka on the Shore was a sort of puzzle book, resembling the Mystery of Life in that it could be characteried in a number of different ways. I thought to some degree that Nakata (the old man) and Kafka (the young boy) were deliberately possibly two ages of the same character, a reading that others have made in online sources. but this theory remains sufficiently nebulous that one doesn't need to add a spoiler tag. maybe it's true, maybe it isn't, who can prove anything?

FIASCO, my next book on th...more
David Hunt
Dec 02, 2007 David Hunt rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
While providing a good overview of the events leading up to OIF, the point of view is too politicized (as evidenced by the title). However, we probably won't have a neutral treatment until at least a decade from now.
Fiasco by Thomas Ricks is an incredible piece of journalism and history. It tells the sad, still unfinished saga of the build up to, and selling of, the Iraq invasion and war to the American people still recovering from the worst terrorist attacks ever on U.S. soil--9/11.

As Fiasco makes perfectly clear, were it not for 9/11, odds are the U.S. would never have invaded Iraq, let alone taken its eye off its revenge invasion of Afghanistan. And as the book also makes perfectly clear, while the U.S....more
Michael Burnam-fink
Journalism is history's first draft , and Thomas Ricks explores in exacting detail the errors in planning, judgement, and strategy that lead to America's misadventure in Iraq. From the beginning, the war was hampered by poor analogies, cherry-picked intelligence, and an division at the highest levels of the Pentagon. There is more than enough blame to go around; Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Franks, Powell, etc, but if any person is truly to blame, it's Rumsfeld, who sabotaged effective planning for...more
Mike Hankins
If you can only read one book about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Fiasco is probably the one you want. Journalist Thomas Ricks gives a detailed look at the lead up to the war in both the political and military spheres, looking at the first few years of the campaign. With great craft, Ricks tells a story of a mess in the making.

The title should reveal the author's angle on the whole war, but his evidence backs up his point well. Ricks describes how a small faction within the Bush administration soug...more
Amazingly thorough look at the build up to and the first four years of the Iraq War. Reading this can really make you sick to your stomach about how wrong our senior officials got it and how badly planned the whole occupation was despite plenty of naysayers and experts' warnings about what was likely to happen and what was needed to make it work. Ricks lays much of the blame on Wolfowitz (and his obession not to repeat the mistakes made in handling the Nazis), General Franks (for his complete la...more
Consider me officially torqued off. This war has to go down as the biggest blunder in American history and the deceit that went into its beginnings and how it was carried out is mind numbing in the light of day. This book is a cloudless day in July and lays out some pretty compelling facts abouth this mess. To think that we have been spending 100 Billion dollars a year for this debacle while the rest of our economy and social programs go down the toilet should be enough to get people in the stre...more
An exhaustively-researched and scathing account of the invasion & occupation of Iraq up through the book's publication date of 2006 or so. Really does an extraordinary job of illustrating the problems between the Dept. of Defense and the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Also illustrates beautifully the breathtaking disconnect between the U.S. Army's approach to dealing with Iraqi civilians. As with most "alien" cultures, the subtlety of communication was of course lost in translation and as...more
Excellent treatment of the first three years of the Iraq War. Many of the missteps and fallacies of the (mainly) American war effort have been well explored in a number of places, but Fiasco remains the best and most comprehensive to date. Ricks calls on a variety of excellent primary sources and interviews and, on balance, presents a fair assessment of the run up and execution of the war and resultant insurgency. The course that the war took was not unpredictable. There were many people, import...more
In the notes section of his book "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq," Thomas E. Ricks states that his book is essentially "an attempt to write narrative history on the heels of the events it covers." (Ricks, 441) Ricks, the senior Pentagon correspondent for The Washington Post, undertakes the daunting feat of summarizing the history of the Iraq War between the conclusion of Desert Storm in 1991 and 2006, when the Iraq War, or Gulf War II, as it's being called in some circles, was s...more
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“break his hold on power, as…we had come to expect,” the first president Bush and his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, wrote in their 1998 joint memoir, A World Transformed. Third, the U.S. military didn’t” 0 likes
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