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This Important Volume: The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq, is an important new chronicle in the Iraq war. Bing West reveals how America reached the brink of defeat in 2006 and then managed in 2007 to stage a stunning turnover. This book is a fitting tribute to the honor, valor and toughness of our soldiers. Sometimes the best way to support the tro This Important Volume: The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq, is an important new chronicle in the Iraq war. Bing West reveals how America reached the brink of defeat in 2006 and then managed in 2007 to stage a stunning turnover. This book is a fitting tribute to the honor, valor and toughness of our soldiers. Sometimes the best way to support the troops s to criticize the generals.


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This Important Volume: The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq, is an important new chronicle in the Iraq war. Bing West reveals how America reached the brink of defeat in 2006 and then managed in 2007 to stage a stunning turnover. This book is a fitting tribute to the honor, valor and toughness of our soldiers. Sometimes the best way to support the tro This Important Volume: The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq, is an important new chronicle in the Iraq war. Bing West reveals how America reached the brink of defeat in 2006 and then managed in 2007 to stage a stunning turnover. This book is a fitting tribute to the honor, valor and toughness of our soldiers. Sometimes the best way to support the troops s to criticize the generals.

30 review for The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    One of the strongest 5 Star ratings I have ever given. A no-nonsense recapitulation of the Iraq war from 2003 to 2008 no hidden agenda I could see. Whether you are a Bush fan or suffer from BDS, anti-military liberal or neocon interventionist, libertarian isolationist or progressive radical, you will find both things you agree with and things that will challenge your assumptions. West puts all under the microscope as he travels the halls of the Pentagon to the streets of Ramadi. I have a forest One of the strongest 5 Star ratings I have ever given. A no-nonsense recapitulation of the Iraq war from 2003 to 2008 no hidden agenda I could see. Whether you are a Bush fan or suffer from BDS, anti-military liberal or neocon interventionist, libertarian isolationist or progressive radical, you will find both things you agree with and things that will challenge your assumptions. West puts all under the microscope as he travels the halls of the Pentagon to the streets of Ramadi. I have a forest of page markers sticking out but here are a few high points: Bush was proud that he would leave the war to the military unlike Johnson in Vietnam. Except Johnson meddled in tactics. Bush needed to understand strategy and why the military was not in sync with his goals. But he was not engaged as he needed to be. The administration lacked a coherent strategy. Conventional wisdom held that more coalition soldiers on the street was bad, we were occupiers and needed to be behind the walls of the bases, if not drawn down asap. Yet the Iraq security forces, police and army, were either incompetent, corrupt or engaged in death squads. Many instances of the populace wanting the Americans in the neighborhoods to maintain security and be a trusted party. It took a long time to realize the clear, hold and transfer tactics to defeat the terror on all sides. So many individuals have positive or negative impact on the course of the war. West covers all of them, Bremer, Petraeus, Casey, Sanchez, Odierno, Mattis, Gates, Rumsfeld, Maliki, Reid,, Pelosi, Murtha and dozens of brave soldiers, marines and Iraqis on the ground. The stories we heard from the media and the real stories stand in stark contrast. Haditha is one that will get your dander up. In the end, we won the fight after making so many deadly mistakes. If your mind is already made up about the Iraq War, then don’t bother with this book. If you want to begin to understand what really happened, read this one. You will also understand how much we have lost by abandoning Iraq, after paying so much for victory. You will see how Iran killed and maimed so many of our soldiers in the later stages of the war. It will make you wonder why we are now giving Iran everything they want without cost. BING WEST’S COUNTERINSURGENCY LESSONS *excellent reading* (view spoiler)[ 1. Partner Always. Don’t fight someone else’s battles for him. The goal of U.S. units and adviser teams is to nurture armed units—army and police. If a U.S. unit is not combined with a local unit, it cannot succeed. 2. Fire Incompetents. Americans go in because the host nation failed. Insist on a mechanism to relieve those who fail. Sovereignty should not shield failure. 3. Act as Police. The key is identifying the insurgents, not redressing their political grievances. Installing “good government” is not a U.S. military mission. The U.S. military has neglected basic police metrics and methods. It is foolish to fight an insurgency without conducting a census and employing biometric tools. 4. Be Aggressive. A unit or advisory team must set the example and spend most of its time outside the wire. Force protection is not a mission. The goal is a clearance rate (kill or capture) of over 50 percent for violent crimes—shootings, bombings, kidnappings, etc. The insurgent must know he will die or be captured. 5. Don’t Catch and Release. Insist on a system of incarceration based on common sense rather than democratic ideals. It is crazy to catch insurgents and let them go a few months later. 6. Bribe. The U.S. military has no competence to restructure an economy. Every platoon and advisory team should have 2 monthly allowance of several thousand dollars to disperse for goodwill and information. 7. Treat Everyone with Respect. First, do no harm. The task—that will take years—is to separate the people from the insurgents, not to act like a thug and recruit for the insurgents. If you wouldn’t push someone around at home, don’t do so anywhere else. No Better Friend comes before No Worse Enemy. If foot patrols by local police require more than four men, the area has not been cleared. If you don’t have a confident, competent police chief, the area is not being held. 8. Barriers Work. “Gated communities”—walls, concrete barriers, etc.—greatly impede commerce, but they impede the entrance and exit of assassins. 9. Fight the Top. In Iraq and Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, the high level officials were the most resistant to change. The top levels of the U.S. government have failed to establish tough practices to force change, particularly in ripping out corruption at ministerial levels. If sovereignty guarantees massive corruption, sedition, and recalcitrance that undercut the war effort, then American soldiers should not be committed. 10. A Divisive Society Will Not Remain the Strongest Tribe. As a society, America’s martial values of patience, sacrifice and unity have declined. Iraq was as much a symptom as a problem. We fought in Iraq as a nation divided, with many of our elected leaders willing to lose. No nation can sustain its values by claiming to support the soldier while opposing his mission. The nation determines the mission. If we are as divided in the next war, we will not succeed. (hide spoiler)] The situation in 2006: A farmer had pointed out the lED, saying his kids had almost stepped on it. Winski paid him $100. After the ordnance team blew the IED, the soldiers climbed back into their Humvees. An old man who had been watching them turned his back, lifted up his soiled white dishdasha, and mooned them. Winski and his soldiers laughed and whistled in appreciation. The gesture captured the existential absurdity of the situation. The Americans couldn’t distinguish their friends from their foes. The Shiites and the Sunnis knew who their enemies were; they just weren’t certain whether the Americans were on one side or the other. The mission of Americans was to support the development of the Iraqi forces, placing them in the lead as fast as possible. But the police in and around Baghdad were rightly feared by the Sunnis and distrusted by the Shiites, while the Iraqi Army presence was thin, episodic, and lacking in decisiveness. A permanent and prominent position on the shelf! Highest recommendation!

  2. 5 out of 5

    James

    Very good - I gave it four stars instead of five only for two reasons: First, because of a major error in the military history cited by the author (he wrote that when the U.S. entered WWII, the British wanted us to invade the European continent early on, in 1943, and that the American leadership had refused and opted to start by invading Axis-held territory in North Africa instead; in reality, it was the other way around - the Americans wanted to tackle the Germans head-on and the British refused Very good - I gave it four stars instead of five only for two reasons: First, because of a major error in the military history cited by the author (he wrote that when the U.S. entered WWII, the British wanted us to invade the European continent early on, in 1943, and that the American leadership had refused and opted to start by invading Axis-held territory in North Africa instead; in reality, it was the other way around - the Americans wanted to tackle the Germans head-on and the British refused to go along, arguing correctly that our forces weren't ready yet and a premature invasion of France would be a disaster.) Second, because West argues that it is impossible to support our troops while opposing a war they're sent to fight, because we as a country chose to fight that war - it's a matter of opinion and personal values, but I vehemently disagree with the ideas that supporting our country or our troops requires supporting the policies of the current administration and that those policies necessarily represent the wishes of a majority of Americans. I believe this is naive and mistaken. Still, in this book Bing West provides the best in-depth reporting and analysis of the situation in Iraq over a span of several years I've read yet, based on his having spent a lot of time there with American troops - from private to general, Army and Marine - and with members of different tribes and sects, Kurdish, Sunni, and Shi'ite, as well as on his extensive experiences in counterinsurgency strategy and tactics as a junior Marine infantry officer during the Vietnam war (which he chronicled in another book, the classic The Village.) Among Bing West's books, The Strongest Tribe in particular stirs emotions in me as a retired Marine myself - I started my career as an infantryman in the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, a.k.a. 3/4 - the same battalion, out of 27 infantry battalions in the Corps, that the world watched on television pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein. Later I was in the 3rd Battalion, First Marine Regiment, 3/1, and was acquainted with then-Lieutenant Joseph Dunford. In 2003, Colonel Dunford led the Fifth Marine Regiment and attached support units during the invasion of Iraq, and now, as a four-star general, he is the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. General Dunford was one of the officers Bing West interviewed extensively during the course of the Iraq war up to the writing of this book. As West explains, the situation in Iraq has been much more complex than most news accounts have shown. It's been a matter of U.S. efforts led by military officers and civilian appointees, some of those civilians reporting to the Secretary of Defense and some to the State Department, with power struggles between those two hierarchies in Washington and at the highest levels in Baghdad; of Iraqi forces divided between those loyal to and directed by the central government and those organized by tribes and local police and militia leaders; and between two major insurgencies, one Shi'ite and covertly sponsored by Iran and the other Sunni and working with Al Qaeda in Iraq, with those insurgencies fighting each other and terrorizing each other's civilian populations much of the time but occasionally cooperating against the American units they faced. Ultimately, the lesson I took from the history up to the time the book was written shortly after the Obama administration took office, and the situation at that time, is that Iraq has become distressingly similar to South Vietnam at the time the U.S. finally withdrew from that war. There's a weak, corrupt, incompetent central government that strongly favors one portion of the country's population over others. That central government is neither capable of nor interested in meeting the needs of its people, basics like reliable electricity, schools, fair and honest law enforcement, and re-investing the wealth derived from foreign trade in infrastructure. That central government also fears competition or rebellion and therefore resists the strengthening and empowerment of local leaders who want to address these issues, particularly if they are Sunni, while turning a blind eye to the crimes of Moqtada al-Sadr's Shi'ite militia against Sunnis. West spares no American or Iraqi civilian or military leader who deserves rebuke in his perspective, as indicated by chapter titles such as "How to Create a Mess," "Contradictory Goals," and "A Flawed Assessment." Still, he concludes at the end of the book that the U.S. will control the ultimate end state in Iraq and therefore we must keep troops there for the foreseeable future. I believe, to the contrary, that like South Vietnam, without a worthwhile central government the country will never be able to function independently, and there is no way the U.S. can create such a government there. Like the former Yugoslavia, Iraq was an artificial construct of a country, cobbled together out of peoples who had never seen themselves as part of the same culture; and like Yugoslavia, the only way Iraq was held together as a single country in name was with the brute force exerted by a ruthless dictator, Tito for Yugoslavia and Saddam for Iraq. It seems only fair to call Bing West's final analysis mistaken if I go out on a limb and offer a different one. Based on its history and current situation, I believe the most likely outcome for Iraq, tragically, will be a combination of a civil war between Shi'ite and Sunni groups (the prime minister seems determined to start just such a war.) I think that war will then lead either to a failed state with Shi'ite regions dominated by Iran and Sunni by Saudi Arabia and other regional Sunni powers such as Egypt (the Iraqi Kurds are more of a wild card, as they want to unite with Kurdish populations in Turkey, Iran, and Syria to form Kurdistan, very much against the wishes of all four countries, and those same Iraqi Kurds happen to be sitting on top of a lot of oil) or to an outright annexation of much of Iraq by Iran, which might or might not touch off a regional Shi'ite-Sunni war involving several countries. I really hope it doesn't turn out that way, but it's hard to imagine a happier ending given the personalities and populations involved and the present (as of January 2012) situation. Ultimately, a lot of the responsibility lies with the leaders of European empires, specifically Britain and France, who recklessly created so many counties by drawing lines on maps of places they may never have even seen and paying more attention to the natural resources and/or strategic locales of those places than to who actually lived there.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Most accurate account of Iraq that I have read yet. I have 27 months in Iraq and this books matches my experience. The Ice Cream armadas and giant castles is not the way to conduct a counter insurgency and Bing explains it in a way that anyone can understand. This is a must read for military professionals, but it is also an intriguing book for any citizen.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia Pachecano

    Every anti-war protestor should read this book. Honor the brave war dead who died for your right to open your mouth!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    Bing West set out to write a defense of the American fighting man and proceeded to do just that. The book does an excellent job of providing a narrative for why progress in Iraq was initially elusive and what changed. This book attempt's to be the military's view of the Iraq war. As far as that goes, it is a useful book. Part memoir of his trips to Iraq, part polemic, and part journalism, Mr. West comes tantalizingly close to something truly valuable - analysis. The problem is, whenever Mr. West Bing West set out to write a defense of the American fighting man and proceeded to do just that. The book does an excellent job of providing a narrative for why progress in Iraq was initially elusive and what changed. This book attempt's to be the military's view of the Iraq war. As far as that goes, it is a useful book. Part memoir of his trips to Iraq, part polemic, and part journalism, Mr. West comes tantalizingly close to something truly valuable - analysis. The problem is, whenever Mr. West confronts a difficult policy decision, whenever two or more paths are equally promising, he simply states what was done and moves on. He never fully engages with the decision making of war. And that's a shame because he seems like he would have valuable insight and because a writer who is afraid to get his hands dirty is no better than a grunt with the same problem. Readers interesting in a more complete picture of the challenges of command are encouraged to read Baghdad at Sunrise by Peter Mansoor. Those interested in the adrenaline rushes can consult any number of soldier memoirs.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    More than just a gung-ho story of victory, it's a painfully honest look at the years of suffering and deadly incompetence in Washington DC. Ultimately it was the troops that had to find a way to victory in Iraq, and this book is a tribute to them. Don't miss the "power point" section which is taken directly from a young captain's briefing on how to work with the locals. It is both funny and unspeakably outrageous that a company grade officer had to figure out a policy through trial and error tha More than just a gung-ho story of victory, it's a painfully honest look at the years of suffering and deadly incompetence in Washington DC. Ultimately it was the troops that had to find a way to victory in Iraq, and this book is a tribute to them. Don't miss the "power point" section which is taken directly from a young captain's briefing on how to work with the locals. It is both funny and unspeakably outrageous that a company grade officer had to figure out a policy through trial and error that the Pentagon experts should have had in place on Day One. Bing West has done this country an invaluable service in writing this unforgettable book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This book covers the insurgency that followed after american troops took bagdad in '03. While having detailed description of troops on the ground in fights like fallujah and the anbar province, it also goes into the strategy from the white house to the generals. I recommend this book for a someone with already some knowledge of the war in that it can have great detail that at times is hard to follow. The author will not explain Iraqi cells and government organizations and I found myself researchin This book covers the insurgency that followed after american troops took bagdad in '03. While having detailed description of troops on the ground in fights like fallujah and the anbar province, it also goes into the strategy from the white house to the generals. I recommend this book for a someone with already some knowledge of the war in that it can have great detail that at times is hard to follow. The author will not explain Iraqi cells and government organizations and I found myself researching them. Overall its good book to read on the war.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Selah

    Never taken me this long to read a book by a long ways, lol. Super helpful book (I purchased it as research for another WIP, Unquenchable), that's packed full of information. Tremendously in-depth and "down in the dirt", as well as broad and full-spectrum viewing. Very informative, awesome chronicle of the war.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Albert Cooper

    This is an excellent book on why we turned the tide in Iraq. It was the units in the field. We need to use the same strategy in Afghanistan.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dusan Bolek

    Brilliant and very informative. Must read for anyone interested in the matter.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Grouchy Historian

    Although a bit dated in 2019..still a good read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    The American led coalition war in Iraq, and aftermath is little understood by the public at large, on a tactical, day to day level. The insurgent campaign, ongoing since the fall of the Baathist regime in 2003, is especially hard to sort out, beyond the political back and forth back home. The Strongest Tribe, Bing West's third book on the Iraq War attempts to place the political and strategic decisions in context of the tactical decisions made by units and individuals on the ground in Iraq, part The American led coalition war in Iraq, and aftermath is little understood by the public at large, on a tactical, day to day level. The insurgent campaign, ongoing since the fall of the Baathist regime in 2003, is especially hard to sort out, beyond the political back and forth back home. The Strongest Tribe, Bing West's third book on the Iraq War attempts to place the political and strategic decisions in context of the tactical decisions made by units and individuals on the ground in Iraq, particularly in the 2006 - 2008 time frame. West, a former officer in the Vietnam War, and later a senior civilian in the Defense Department in the Reagan administration, has spent over 30 years studying the way for a superior military force, like the United States, to fight and win against an insurgent foe. What he brings to this book is his understanding of the higher levels of military and civilian culture in Washington, the reason why the US military approaches fighting and his expertise concerning insurgencies. The book does cover the period roughly from the toppling of the Hussein regime to immediate aftermath of the new counterinsurgency strategy by Gen. Patreaus, though half the 400 page book concerns the late 2006 to mid 2008 period. West has limited his writing here to mostly the actions of the American military in Anbar and Baghdad. He writes for the general reader, with perhaps a basic understanding of how the modern Army and Marine Corps operate, and he takes time to personalize his narrative with stories of junior officers and enlisted men, in part to show their character, as they face an extremely difficult situation. The Washington political class just comes off awfully in this book, especially on the Congressional level. President Bush's actions are fairly critiqued. The real disagreements at the top of the military are clearly described. What comes through is a real frustration on West's part between the outstanding service on the foggy front, and a disingenuous message back home. The reader of this book should come away with a high appreciation of the monumental work accomplished in a very difficult environment by many members of the American military. West at times is prone to gushing in his admiration to where you can say his respect is of a level of love. Also, the reader should come away with a clear sense of how the failings and misunderstandings of the top levels of the executive and legislative branches, at best hindered, and at times harmed a very difficult mission. Most of all, the reader should come away with a distinct sense of the terror, brutality and grittiness that faced the American military, and the in a sense hopeful story of how such soldiers were able to overcome and achieve objectives in Iraq that would have seemed fanciful a generation prior. West closes his book with real lessons and applications that can be applied from the Iraq War that should be understood by politicians, the military and the informed citizen. The informed citizen should especially come away with a sense of disappointment that general culture they participate in, is making it harder to produce wise politicians and self denying warriors who stand on watch for them.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jean-marc Liotier

    I just finished reading "The Strongest Tribe - War, Politics and the Endgame in Iraq" by Bing West. Once the author's own ideas about the relationship between the nation, the media and the armed forces are set aside, what remains is an account of reference on the civil war in Iraq from 2003 to 2008. Bing West's military experience gave the author an excellent relationship with the troops, and that granted him access to a variety of sources in theater throughout the whole period. He provides a com I just finished reading "The Strongest Tribe - War, Politics and the Endgame in Iraq" by Bing West. Once the author's own ideas about the relationship between the nation, the media and the armed forces are set aside, what remains is an account of reference on the civil war in Iraq from 2003 to 2008. Bing West's military experience gave the author an excellent relationship with the troops, and that granted him access to a variety of sources in theater throughout the whole period. He provides a comprehensive view from the bottom to top about what the US forces experienced in Iraq and how they adapted to overcome the challenges of counter-insurgency in a very muddy political environment. Communicating the complexity of this conflict is incompatible with the mass-media formats. This book offers the volume necessary to describe how the invaders went through the messy process of stumbling upon new problems, trying solutions, gaining understanding and then building doctrine from the ground up. Bing West's work is the first one to my knowledge that exposes the whole process and articulates it into a coherent narrative. We follow the troops as they are dealing with duplicitous Iraqi politicians, struggling to build trust in a lawless society, sustaining morale while working with thankless partners, sticking to western due process standards in a country with no reliable judiciary, overcoming the impulse to stick to search and destroy, living among the locals to stop commuting to work from large bases, learning how to seize and hold sectors in a sustainable way, turning a population terrorized by campaigns of murder and intimidation, and finally getting it all together to find how to get the local potentates to stand for themselves. With the authors eyes, these problems are seen through the prism of the Vietnam war, and we discover what connects to the historical lessons learned in Vietnam and elsewhere, and how the Iraqi mix created original challenges. The Strongest Tribe stops almost entirely short of the political territory of why the United States went to war in Iraq - and that is a good thing. Bing West does an outstanding job of explaining how the military in Iraq and its chain of command dealt with the fighting, and I extend my praise to him for sticking within that perimeter, apart from a handful of gratuitous mentions of Senator John McCain. All in all, a recommended read for making sense of Iraq from the local point of view - provided you understand the bias of an author strongly connected to the culture of the US armed forces. Hats off to Bing West for his in-depth work, and hats off to the ingenuity, flexibility and sheer dedication of the troops who navigate in the dangerous unknown.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sean McLachlan

    This book about the Coalition occupation of Iraq was written by Bing West, a Vietnam veteran and former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. He examines the changing strategy and tactics of the occupation from its troubled beginnings through the height of the insurgency and up until 2009. Despite West's background, he is not kind to the Bush administration. He accuses Bush of being out of touch with the reality on the ground and unwilling to listen to those who were better This book about the Coalition occupation of Iraq was written by Bing West, a Vietnam veteran and former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. He examines the changing strategy and tactics of the occupation from its troubled beginnings through the height of the insurgency and up until 2009. Despite West's background, he is not kind to the Bush administration. He accuses Bush of being out of touch with the reality on the ground and unwilling to listen to those who were better informed. He places the blame for much of America's troubles in Iraq at the feet of its then Commander-in-Chief The armed forces did learn from its mistakes, however, and the bulk of this book is devoted to Coalition's attempts to devise strategy and tactics to defeat the insurgency. West embedded with numerous frontline units to get a better idea of how the changing tactics worked on the ground. His detailed military analysis is fascinating for any student of the subject and West keeps it from being a dry Defense Department briefing by giving vivid descriptions of the individuals involved and some of their firefights. One thing I especially appreciated is that the author gives full credit to the bravery and commitment of the many Iraqis who fought alongside the Coalition to make their country a better place. Having been to Iraq myself, I have met many such Iraqis and it's too bad their story isn't told more often. The Americans got to go home at the end of their tour of duty. The Iraqis, however, didn't have that option and ran the risk of assassination at the hands of terrorists. Many fell victim to such a fate. There are holes in his coverage, however. Coalition partners are given short shrift, and the whole Blackwater scandal (overcharging the government, pointlessly killing civilians, etc.) is shrugged off in a single page with the statement that new rules were put in place to keep the "mistakes" from happening again. That's a shockingly naive statement coming from such an experienced observer and I wonder if West actually believes it. The Abu Ghraib scandal is treated in a similarly flippant manner. West never considers the possibility that the blame went higher than those immediately involved. I'm not saying it did; I'm just saying that it's a question worth asking. Despite these quibbles, I still found The Strongest Tribe the single best general coverage I've read on the war. Anyone who wants to understand the occupation of Iraq or the changing tactics of modern warfare should read this exciting and informative book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    JoséMaría BlancoWhite

    Politicians should help in getting the business done, and not put any more hurdles on the path of those who fight in Iraq: it could be the message from this book, where action proves valor: “100 miles south of Baghdad … Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr exhorted his followers to protest the American presence. Faced with an unruly mob, Lt. Col. John Mayer took off his helmet and armored vest and strode into their midst with an interpreter, shouting, Is this the thanks you give to the soldiers who remo Politicians should help in getting the business done, and not put any more hurdles on the path of those who fight in Iraq: it could be the message from this book, where action proves valor: “100 miles south of Baghdad … Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr exhorted his followers to protest the American presence. Faced with an unruly mob, Lt. Col. John Mayer took off his helmet and armored vest and strode into their midst with an interpreter, shouting, Is this the thanks you give to the soldiers who removed Saddam's boot from your neck? Abashed the crowd dispersed. The next day, the city council asked Mayer to sit with them.” On the ground, fighting, vividly described: “On signal, the door would be smashed in and four marines would rush into the front room, each pointing his rifle toward a different corner, each betting his life that none of the others would freeze or not shoot quickly enough.” Treason by politicians: “Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate, said, 'This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything' … The press gave Reid a free pass, barely mentioning his remarks.” An Iraqi interpreter who should be in the Senate instead of Reid: “My country didn't do a fuck for me. The U.S. ruined Japan with nukes and then rebuilt it. Sunni and Shiite killers, there's no difference. Let's kick the shit out of them, then rebuild, like you did to Japan.” Iraqis, obviously, don't play PC games. Harry Reid hasn't met this guy neither. A good message to Obama: “Obama didn't understand the nature of warriors. Warriors want to be praised for winning, not consoled for being battered”, this on account of the America's current disgraceful press, who -talking to Marines in North Carolina- portrayed marine warriors as victims rather than as the strongest tribe. This book is all about Iraq, top to bottom, inside out, full of action, and not at all for the academia. It's to be read by those who sweat and toil, over there with the risking of their lives, and in the homeland, staying safe while paying taxes. The most comprehensive story of the war in Iraq and in the States. Great, sober, clear, denouncing, proud and tall.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hank

    I admire Mr. West for the courage & sacrifice he's made to write this book & others. He goes to great lengths in his attempt to report objectively from mostly first hand observations. But his focus is narrow and frankly repetitive to the point that I found myself scanning the book at times reading details that did not seem to present a diffent theme than preceding accounts. There were also some editing/ protocol oversights that irritated me, particularly since Mr. West is a Marine. For example, I admire Mr. West for the courage & sacrifice he's made to write this book & others. He goes to great lengths in his attempt to report objectively from mostly first hand observations. But his focus is narrow and frankly repetitive to the point that I found myself scanning the book at times reading details that did not seem to present a diffent theme than preceding accounts. There were also some editing/ protocol oversights that irritated me, particularly since Mr. West is a Marine. For example, a Captain in the Army is CPT, Marines: Capt, Navy: CAPT. This may seem like a silly nuance, but by annotating details like this properly the story is more accurately told. The most bothersome error is the consistent mis-spelling of a man's name; a man who was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic leadership in the face of the enemy. He deserves to have his name spelled correctly and frankly it is a discredit to the book and the author that this was overlooked.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    One of the best books ever written about the Iraq war -- from a fighting man's perspective! In addition to capturing the feel of combat in the Iraq War, this book depicts the way company grade officers and enlisted troops were literally forced to create a workable strategy and a vision for winning the war -- something the Pentagon entirely failed to do before the invasion. The illustrations include a power point presentation by an ordinary captain which illustrates the dilemmas the troops faced a One of the best books ever written about the Iraq war -- from a fighting man's perspective! In addition to capturing the feel of combat in the Iraq War, this book depicts the way company grade officers and enlisted troops were literally forced to create a workable strategy and a vision for winning the war -- something the Pentagon entirely failed to do before the invasion. The illustrations include a power point presentation by an ordinary captain which illustrates the dilemmas the troops faced and then suggests solutions. It's so simply done it makes you want to laugh. But when you think about how many brave fighting troops had to die before proper planning got underway it makes you want to cry.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    A friend of mine, who has a military background recommended this book to me. What it revealed to me was the "boots on the ground" perspective, lacking in so much of the political texts that have been written about this war. Starting immediately after 9/11 and evolving to 2009, Bing West shows how difficult this war has become in part due to the miscalculations of the Bush administration in the early years and the way the surge righted a VERY SINKING SHIP. It also details the difficulties facing A friend of mine, who has a military background recommended this book to me. What it revealed to me was the "boots on the ground" perspective, lacking in so much of the political texts that have been written about this war. Starting immediately after 9/11 and evolving to 2009, Bing West shows how difficult this war has become in part due to the miscalculations of the Bush administration in the early years and the way the surge righted a VERY SINKING SHIP. It also details the difficulties facing our brave men and women even today as we try to execute a successful end game. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand this war from the soldiers perspective.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Reading the takes me back. Its a pretty good overview of the war on a more operational and tactical level focusing on the middle to lower level military. The author builds a pretty strong case that for all the blundering in Washington, the individual leaders endured and accomplished whatever tasks they were dealt. In doing so, they may have turned defeat into victory. America's military is the strongest tribe.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jwduke

    This book looks in impressive and looks like some ignorant grunt wrote it. After reading, that's not entirely accurate. The book is impressive, and grunts wrote it, Bing West just collected what they had to say, from general to private, analyzed it, and compared it to policy makers decisions. The result was a comprehensive study of the Iraq war from every perspective possible. West pulls no punches, but is equally fair with his praise of those who deserved it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dfoulser

    So the surge was created as a way to take advantage of the Sunni Awakening, but still did not address political problems in the Iraqi government. If I'd heard in the press what I read in this book, I'd have preferred to get Maliki out of the gov't instead of troops out of Iraq. A story that needs to be told, and heard.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    This is a fantastic view at the tactical level leading up and into the beginning of the Surge strategy. Perhaps most instructive is the list of 'Lessons Learned' at the end of the book. This is a must read for any student of military strategy to understand the happenings at the tactical level.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Alright, maybe I'm not quite halfway through this after all. Interesting narrative about solving a very difficult problem in Iraq, although not as difficult as the problem in Afghanistan. Author has a slight bias, but very interesting. Be a filter.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Another great book from Bing West. No BS, tells it like it is. After dozens of patrols and interviews with soldiers of all ranks, and government officials, West show the flaws in prosecution of the Iraq war.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq by Bing West (2008)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Reid Schluchter

    It was a good book and it opens your eyes to bigger things

  27. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    Excellent read. Gets across the "grunts on the ground" view of Iraq vs. the politics. West may be retired Marine but is fully engaged and his view reflects their motto, "Semper Fi".

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jfarley

    outstanding. read it immediately.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave Beeman

    Excellent work on the going on's in Iraq from summer 2003 to 2009. Covers the military, political, and economic aspects of the conflict.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    A thorough look into the history of the overall Iraq War (2003-2011). Does a great job of balancing the efforts of all branches of the American military.

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