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Gamble

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,738 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
Thomas E. Rick's news-breaking follow up to the #1 "New York TimesFiasco"
Now updated to fully document the inside story of the Iraq war since late 2005, "The Gamble" is the definitive account of the insurgency within the U.S. military that led to a radical shift in America's strategy. Based on unprecedented real-time access to the military's entire chain of command, Rick
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Published February 1st 2010 (first published February 10th 2009)
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Jack Pando
If you want a good explanation of one of the reasons Iraq has crumbled into more complete chaos since the US pulled out, I recommend that you read Thomas Ricks Fiasco and The Gamble. In his first book Ricks goes into detail about the failed logic and strategy in invading Iraq. In the Gamble Ricks describes to his readers the new strategy and almost unified front that the US takes from 2007-2008. Instead of focusing on crushing al Qaeda and insurgents, General Petreaus and other US military and p ...more
Michael Gerald
Sep 25, 2013 Michael Gerald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you started a war the wrong way, you should not end it the wrong way.

From 2003 to 2007, the US found itself in a hellish bind in Iraq, a country it sought to liberate from Saddam Hussein and turn into a democracy, but resulted only in a de facto civil war between the different ethnic factions in the country, and the entry of Al Qaeda. Suicide bombings by Sunni Al Qaeda; massacres by Shias; improvised explosive devices against Coalition forces; the death toll on all sides rising in staggering
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Steve
Feb 03, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best book I've read so far on the conflict(s) in Iraq. I thought about giving this 5 stars, but the last 30 pages or so has Ricks trying to guess where this is all going. Nothing wrong with that, since the situation in Iraq is ongoing (and is now our longest war), but at that point it moves from history toward crystal ball gazing. (But in this case, it's very informed crystal ball gazing.) General Petraeus, the focus of much of book, comes across as one of the rare, transformative figures th ...more
Trish
Mar 02, 2009 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, mideast, war
Ricks has a thesis--you can guess it from the title--and he makes his point forcefully. It had always been my contention that the people of Iraq must be better served and the concept of sending troops out into small outposts in cities and towns to establish peaceful areas is intuitively convergent. The intent was to have peace for long enough that a political solution could arise.

In practice we have been arming former insurgents to keep them from fighting with us and Iraqi citizens. We have est
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Brian
Feb 27, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the US adventure in Iraq and especially the surge
Shelves: 2009
Thomas Ricks is no fan of President Bush's invasion of Iraq, and has called it the greatest foreign policy disaster in U.S. history. He detailed the run-up to war and the first few years in Fiasco and has now written about the huge change in strategy and tactics that occurred with the surge.

He details how classic counterinsurgency theory holds that people are the objective, so the task is to figure out how to "win" them. And he quotes Col. H.R. McMaster as saying "Every time you treat an Iraqi d
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Bart
May 16, 2009 Bart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a well-reported effort with multiple citations and sources and a somewhat coherent, if ultimately un-hopeful (as opposed to hopeless), conclusion in its epilogue.

For those who read the book as a weather forecast, the epilogue will provide all that you seek. For those that read this book for a tapestry of the way the United States military operates, the entire book is recommended. For those that seek insights on the formulation, and revision, of strategy and tactics, really, you'll g
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Richt
Mar 10, 2009 Richt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sad and frighting how we got in this mess in the first place.

This book describes how a group of active duty and retired generals, and colonels and civilian experts (Petraeus,et.al) who were against the war in the first place were able to redirect the Iraq war, because the Republicans got whipped in the 2006 elections. After their losses in the election, the old regime had to finally admit that we were about to lose the war, fire Rumsfeld, and hand over the keys to Petraeus and company.

After a r
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Kash
Jul 27, 2011 Kash rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great work on the surge and the magnificent job done by the US military in Iraq from late 2006 to late 2008 as this book came out. I admit I am not a fan of Rick's way of thinking on matters of foreign policy and especially I dont like his liberal bias. Why would one ruin a good book by showing his liberal bias? Mocking the president or vice president? why? Can't you just report what has happened without commentary of your own? There are dozens of this bias through out the book bu ...more
Christopher
A great follow up to his previous book on the Iraq war, Fiasco, Ricks shows how American troops, led by Gens. David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, did a complete 180º turn in terms of strategy and brought a relative amount of security to the country. Ricks also added something that I thought was lacking from his previous book: short, biographical info on key figures like Petraeus, Odierno and Keane. And, just like before, Ricks has a knack for illustrating the facts both on the ground and in the hall ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Apr 15, 2009 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: may-june-2009

By and large, critics were less eager to assess Ricks's work as an author and more interested in his opinions about the success of the "surge" and the future of Iraq. But this is perhaps the book's greatest endorsement; whether they were liberal or conservative, American or British, critics viewed Ricks's facts as unassailable and his analysis as strong. They were impressed not just with his unparalleled access to the main actors in Iraq but also with his ability to integrate two commonly held b

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Kathleen
Much like its subject, this book demands a commitment; it is not an easy read. It is well written and worth the time, though. Focusing on Petraeus as something of a system-bucking intellectual, this book avoids the first three-four years of the war in Iraq that enrage me most of all. Successfully explaining what people mean when they say things like "the surge was tactically successful, but a strategic failure" and giving a thorough view of the strategic situation from 2006-2008, this is a far m ...more
Robert
Feb 27, 2009 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book follows up on Ricks' work in Fiasco with the story of the way forward in the Iraq War. While this is probably a war that didn't need to be fought, it is one that we need to finish.

In spending a lot of time with those responsible for the new way we fight in Iraq, General Petraeus and Odierno, Ricks determines that what we are doing is working, though we may be in Iraq much longer then many people think. If you read Fiasco, I would recommend this book to you.
Brendan
Feb 10, 2009 Brendan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Straight forward, even handed account that crystallizes the last two years of the Iraq War. If your ignorant of where America is in Iraq or how we got there, I strongly recommend reading Ricks' previous book on Iraq 'Fiasco' followed by 'The Gamble'.
Jimmy
Oct 20, 2014 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Ricks has written another wonderful book on the military and the importance of having the right generals during war. In this book he looks at the Surge of the Iraq war and the military leadership involved with the great “gamble” of achieving some kind of nominal success in winding down the war. Most Americans have little understanding about the Surge and those who are better informed often know about the Surge in the context of the heated partisan debate in 2006-07 between Republicans and ...more
Hotavio
Mar 30, 2011 Hotavio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hotavio by: HIST 577
The Iraq War has kind of faded from the forefront of the American conscience, but is far over. At least this is one of the assertions that Thomas E. Ricks makes in Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq as he advocates the continuance of the militarily supporting the “democracy” of Iraq. “Even as security improved in Iraq in 2008, I found myself consistently saddened by the war, not just by its obvious costs to Iraqis and Americans, but also by the incompetence and ...more
Jimmy
May 07, 2011 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-iraq
This book is a must read for anyone interested in discussing the second Iraq War and the so-called "surge." A lot of people blame the surge for the turnaround in the war, but it was more than that. Just sending in more troops was not enough. It took the Sunnis to change their minds about fighting the US. That was known as the "Sunni Awakening." Without it, the surge may have failed. It also took a new strategy. The original strategy, if it can even be called that, was a total disaster that destr ...more
Martin
Mar 23, 2017 Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Ricks has become one of my favourite American journalist-authors. In this book he follows "The Surge" of 2007-8 in the Iraq occupation, from the clear losing the war period before it, through the idea and its diffusion in the Pentagon, to its execution and issues. He ends with a pithy analysis of possible futures- and is remarkably prescient. While the book sometimes oversimplifies issues in counterinsurgency, and does make some characters somewhat one-dimensional, an ...more
Scott Whitmore
Jun 05, 2013 Scott Whitmore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m please to report The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas E. Ricks did not cause me nearly the heartburn as his previous work on Iraq, Fiasco (see my review). Don’t misconstrue that as criticism of the author: it is the facts of the matter, not the teller of those facts that causes my blood pressure to rise.

For many reasons I opposed the war in Iraq (hence the gastric distress), but after shattering
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Drake
Mar 25, 2009 Drake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In ‘The Gamble,’ by Thomas E. Ricks, documents the recent ‘Surge’ policy in the Iraq War. It is a great companion to Bob Woodward’s ‘The War Within.’ Where Woodward has almost unlimited access to the political figures involved with the surge, Ricks mirrors with his extensive access to the military generals who helped shape the changing policy in Iraq. Being a top Pentagon reporter for the Washington Post, his analysis of the surge is well thought out, lacking the usual punditry of the extremes o ...more
Brick
Dec 14, 2012 Brick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
My brother, an Army Reservist, was mobilized for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and again for the Surge. As a result, I watched and listened to the media reports throughout, very carefully. I was well aware of the discrepancies between what was reported and what I learned about what was going on, in large part because of the many reporters and authors who were bringing us alternative points of view, generally not covered in the evening news. As a result, I thought I was pretty well informed about ...more
Abben
Jun 24, 2010 Abben rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I am not aware of anyone with the access to the high-level army officials and documents Ricks had access to, aside from such officials themselves. The cheif importance of this book, I think, is first that it is a counterpoint to the self-serving memoirs of Paul Wolfowitz, George Tenet et al, on behalf of those within the Army and the Pentagon who were fighting the good fight for sanity. The second is that it describes the formation of "The Surge" strategy, and its explanation is radically differ ...more
Bojan Tunguz
May 18, 2011 Bojan Tunguz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jack
Kudos to Ricks for once again writing a masterful account of the now latter half of the American War in Iraq. This book, in sharp contrast to Fiasco, is a portrait of hypercompetence and thoughtful decision-making, whereas Ricks portrayed the first half of the war as a disaster of incompetence and intellectual arrogance.

Interestingly, one of the examples of arrogance and stubbornness in Fiasco, General Ray Odierno of the Fourth Infantry Division who implemented heavy-handed policies against insu
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Mattie
May 31, 2010 Mattie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-nonfiction
If you're anything like me, you probably haven't been paying enough attention to the Iraq War.

Whatever your reason, and whatever your politics, this book goes a long way into remedying years of neglect, and in the process, lets you know that you're not alone and why.

It's a condensed history of the war from 2006 to 2008, starting at probably the lowest point in the Iraq War: The massacre at Haditha, where U.S. troops opened fire and killed 24 Iraqis, including women and children. It ends with a
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Jack
Mar 07, 2009 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"War without End" is the title of the final section of this book, and that exactly describes the reality of the war in Iraq within the perspective of the new counter-insurgency thinking. More than just the surge, the new strategy involved a radical change in military operations - a turn of objectives to protect the population, to engage the civilians with respect and in an non-confrontational manner, and to take a nuanced view against the insurgency. The book emphasizes that this surge, and the ...more
Tripp
Apr 03, 2009 Tripp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tom Ricks' The Gamble is an excellent book about the Surge, a subject that was largely discussed in terms of the Presidential debate. Ricks doesn't ignore that context, but he is more interested in how it happened and what it means. His takes a mixed view. He argues that the operational goal, the stabilization of the situation, worked, but the long term goal, creating a means for the US to exit, did not. If you are interested in the subject, then you really need to read the book. Rather than tal ...more
Ken Bronsil
Ricks, whose previous book "Fiasco" covers the first three years of the Iraqi War, continues his coverage in a book that draws from a large number of interviews with military and political leaders.

In 2006 American casualties were very high, the Iraqi government was not holding the country together, and domestic opposition to the war was at its highest peak yet. Military leaders, from the Joint Chiefs down, were stymied while the Bush administration continued to give overly-optimistic pictures o
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Tim
Apr 02, 2009 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great followup to Rick's first book, FIASCO. This is a sobering, and surprising account of the US military conflict in Iraq from a low point in 2005 to the present, focusing on the reasonings, and implementation of "the surge."

Surprises: Bush virtually stood alone, though as a president is called to do, in rejecting much advice around him, and picking Petraeus's strategy.

Petraeus picked two critics of militarism in general and US Iraq Policy in particular to help set the parameters of his str
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Brian
The basic message of the The Gamble by Thomas Ricks is that just because a war is begun in the wrong way does not mean it needs to end in the wrong way. Ricks assesses the surge in Iraq that put extra divisions in play by keeping divisions on the ground longer. While militarily a success in the sense that we did not lose it was a strategy without a clear endgame and one that was divorced from the political reality in Washington. This book serves a multitude of purposes including showing the day ...more
Rogier
May 07, 2009 Rogier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent follow-up to Fiasco, describing the shift in Iraq from a war strategy to a counter-insurgency strategy, which appears to be bearing fruit...

Great writing, and great analysis. At one point the author observes that in World War II it took Roosevelt just three months to figure out the US started off on the wrong foot strategically, and in this case it took three years. I don't find that so amazing, for the Petraeus strategy in fact implies that it was useless to go to war in the first pla
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« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
  • The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
  • Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq
  • The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq
  • War by Other Means: An Insider's Account of the War on Terror
  • War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today
  • The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War
  • The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army
  • In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan
  • Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam
  • The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
  • The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
  • Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
  • Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond
  • The Longest War: A History of the War on Terror and the Battles with Al Qaeda Since 9/11
  • Grunts: Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience, World War II Through Iraq
  • War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars
  • No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah
Thomas Edwin "Tom" Ricks (born September 25, 1955) is an American journalist who writes on defense topics. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. He writes a blog at ForeignPolicy.com and is a member of the Center for a New American Security, a defense policy think tank.

He lectures widely to the military and is a member of Harvard University
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