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4.1  ·  Rating details ·  5,350 Ratings  ·  395 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) (first published July 1st 2006)
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Will Byrnes
Fiasco offers a very detailed look into the disaster that has been the US invasion of Iraq. For those of us who have read more than a few books on the subject there is an unavoidable repetition of information seen elsewhere, but there is sufficient new material to justify one’s time. Ricks covers the range of errors from the political to the strategic to the tactical to the diplomatic and offered analysis as to what went wrong and why. But he also shows where lessons were learned from recent exp ...more
Sep 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
Jul 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Craig Fiebig
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Critically important but very difficult book to read. As one who long supported Iraq II to read such a thorough evisceration of the justification and strategic prosecution of the war was, frankly, heart-rending. There were errors of negligence, bull-headed-ness, stress at every level. There are two hopeful elements, first I learned of this book because it is being taught as part of the curriculum at West Point. This demonstrates an atypical and invaluable institutional capacity for self-learning ...more
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
The United States government is not necessarily known for its honesty or intelligence, but the utter incompetence and narcissism displayed by our leaders during the Iraq war is just quintessential idiocy. What was done (and not done) by power-wielding officials during this time is nothing less than systematic neglect and criminality.

Long story short, in the early 2000′s, a handful of very arrogant men in the top ranks of government deliberately manipulated our country into a preemptive war that
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Gerald
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
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
Greg Snyder
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter Buren
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ian Divertie
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to understand our current 2015 situation this is a MUST read. Mr. Ricks is a seer of uncommon vision even in 2015. Mr. Ricks' book "Fiasco" which oddly although written in 2006 and 2007 directly addresses our current problems in the Middle East. This book explains both how we got into this mess and accurately predicts today. In fact both its 2006 Afterword: Betting Against History and its 2007 Postscript are extremely prescient. The 2006 Afterword does indeed precisely describe the c ...more
Erik Graff
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: Karen Engdahl & Walter Wallace
Shelves: history
Visiting Walter and Karen for a week and having finished my in-flight book, I asked them for recommendations and was handed this, most of which I read on the front and side porches of their rambling centuries-old home in Springfield, Vermont.

Ricks does not, as I would, decry the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, but he does represent scathing criticisms posited by military officers against how the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been conducted under Bush and company.
Sobering and impressive analysis of the unmitigated disaster of foreign policy and warmongering that is Iraq. Now that the damage is starting to be cleaned up, I am cautiously optimistic, but there is still too much to be done here.
I agree -- great book...
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I came to this book as someone who had read more than a handful of longform journalistic pieces on the second Iraq War through the years, but would definitely claim no expertise on the matter as this is the first book-length treatment I've read on the subject. Still, the early chapters stood out to me vividly as I can recall in detail the public debate (such that it was!) concerning the war as that occurred in spring semester of my freshman year in college back in 2003. As it happened, I was th ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really a 5, but it revived a bunch of anger, sadness and outright disbelief.
Scott Holstad
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gosh, there's so much to say about this book, I hardly know where to begin! I turned over so many pages to go back and see citations or quotes that I can't possibly list a fourth of them here.

Ricks did a great job of presenting the build-up to the Iraq war and through the first three years. Since this book was published in 2006, it feels very unfinished and I would appreciate a 2013 second edition, but oh well. Ricks seems to lay first blame at some Iraq hating, war hawks in Bush's administrati
Dec 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
While I don't think it was the author's express intention to build a case for the criminal prosecution of President George W. Bush, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheny, etc., that is exactly what this book does.

This is not an easy read - it is gut wrenching, it is angering, it makes one wonder how the U.S Government could possibly have led the country to a) invade Iraq on the basis of faulty, faulty intelligence and b) conduct such an incompetent execution of the war and its follow-on. The
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any person who throws up their hands in disgust at the what has happened to us
Fiasco; the OED defines it as "A thing that is a complete failure, especially in a ludicrous or humiliating way." Here are some synonyms for further clarification: failure, disaster, catastrophe, debacle, shambles, farce, mess, (TRAIN)wreck, flop. washout, snafu, miscarriage, screw-up. And to further delineate here are some antonyms: accomplishment, achievement, miracle, success, triumph, win, wonder, advantage, benefit.

You get the idea. Here is the rest of the official title. America's Military
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
Scott Whitmore
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading. A sobering retelling of the missteps that led us into Iraq and created the disastrous situation in that country after our invasion.

I held off on reading this book for a long time; following our recent election I decided the time had come, so I doubled up on my blood pressure meds and dove in. That proved a wise precaution, because my anger at the callous and inept way in which political and military leaders fumbled, bumbled and outright deceived has hardly abated.

I knew most
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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 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
More about Thomas E. Ricks...
“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
“foremost with President Bush himself, but his incompetence and arrogance are only part of the story. It takes more than one person to make a mess as big as Iraq. That is, Bush could only take such a careless action because of a series of failures in the American system. Major lapses occurred within the national security bureaucracy, from a weak National Security Council (NSC) to an overweening Pentagon and a confused intelligence apparatus. Larger failures of oversight also occurred in the political system, most notably in Congress, and in the inability of the media to find and present alternate sources of information about Iraq and the threat it did or didn’t present” 0 likes
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