In this unprecedented account of the intensive air and ground operations in Iraq, two of America’s most distinguished military historians bring clarity and depth to the first major war of the new millennium. Reaching beyond the blaring headlines, embedded videophone reports, and daily Centcom briefings, Williamson Murray and Robert Scales analyze events in light of past military experiences, present battleground realities, and future expectations.
The Iraq War puts the recent conflict into context. Drawing on their extensive military expertise, the authors assess the opposing aims of the Coalition forces and the Iraqi regime and explain the day-to-day tactical and logistical decisions of infantry and air command, as British and American troops moved into Basra and Baghdad. They simultaneously step back to examine long-running debates within the U.S. Defense Department about the proper uses of military power and probe the strategic implications of those debates for America’s buildup to this war. Surveying the immense changes that have occurred in America’s armed forces between the Gulf conflicts of 1991 and 2003—changes in doctrine as well as weapons—this volume reveals critical meanings and lessons about the new “American way of war” as it has unfolded in Iraq.
Williamson Murray and Robert Scales, both American military academics, have produced a superlative record of the invasion—part history, part critique and part doctrinal template for the future. Technical and operational aspects are explained clearly without losing the depth required to make this a serious study.
Murray and Scales are serious military historians [and] have a knack for integrating tactical vignettes into their operational narrative… Details like these give the reader a bit of the taste and smell of the fighting. More important, [the authors] use them adroitly to highlight factors that shaped the thinking of American military commanders at key stages and to point out critical lessons about the conduct of modern war… What emerges from their book is a far more comprehensive view of a far more complicated war than the vast majority of readers may have gleaned from the snapshots provided by the news media during the 23 days of major combat operations.
In their coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom…embedded reporters provided vertical depth but little horizontal scope. Profound portraits of individual soldiers and units were rarely complemented by competent narratives placing the various military operations in the context of a grand strategic view. That is the job not of war correspondents but of military historians. Williamson Murray, a senior fellow at the Institute of Defense Analysis, and Major General Robert H. Scales Jr., a former commandant of the Army War College, fill the void.
The academic depth of Williamson Murray and the professional experience of Major General Robert Scales ensure that their lively account of the war against Iraq is a superior, authoritative product. Its focus is operational (neither Donald Rumsfeld nor Paul Wolfowitz appears in the index), but the authors acknowledge the importance of political context, especially the ‘sustaining power of tyranny’ even in the face of a ‘shock and awe’ air assault.
Murray and Scales offer plenty of detailed combat accounts. But largely, their book seeks to step back and put the war in a larger frame.
For those wanting a detailed analysis of the strategic and operational dimensions of the recent war, this is the book.
The authors clearly had access to major military decision-makers and after-action reports. But as seasoned military historians, they go far beyond mere reportage, offering concise judgements about both the planning and the conduct of the campaign… Mr. Murray and Mr. Scales provide an illuminating look at the ground campaign that culminated in the capture of Baghdad… The authors’ discussion of the war’s ramifications is excellent and alone is worth the price of the book… More detailed analyses of the war will follow this book. By all means, read them. But the insights and judgments of Williamson Murray and Robert Scales make The Iraq War a book that will stand the test of time.
Military historians Murray and Scales have written an enormously detailed description and analysis of the U.S.-led campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in March–April 2003. Their book’s value lies in its step-by-step report on the invasion.
Murray and Scales provide a lucid and leavened look at the larger-scale forces shaping the war.
- 368 pages
- 0-13/16 x 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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