Fallujah Awakens by Bill Ardolino
Marines, Sheikhs, and the Battle Against al Qaeda (Blue and Gold)

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The cradle of an insurgency that plunged Iraq into years of chaos and bloodshed, Fallujah conjures up images of the brutal house-to-house fighting that occurred during the 2004 U.S. invasion of the iconic city. But attacks in the area actually peaked two years later, when American and Iraqi government forces struggled with a reinvigorated insurgency and the prospect of premature withdrawal by U.S. forces. Fallujah Awakens tells the story of the remarkable turnaround that followed. Journalist Bill Ardolino explains how local tribal leaders and U.S. Marines forged a surprising alliance that helped secure the famous battleground. It is one of the few books to recount events from both American and Iraqi perspectives.

Based on more than120 interviews with Iraqis and U.S. Marines, Ardolino describes how a company of reservists, led by a hospital equipment salesman from Michigan, succeeded where previous efforts had stalled. Circumstance combined with smart, charismatic leadership enabled Americans to build relationships with members of a Sunni tribe—once written off as dangerous and intractable— who pushed al Qaeda and other insurgents from their notoriously rebellious area.

Accidental killings, intertribal rivalries, insurgents, and intrigue all conspired to undue the tenuous alliance forged between the Americans and tribesmen on Fallujah’s Peninsula. But the partnership was cemented after a Marine commander’s risky decision to welcome nearly 100 injured civilians onto a secure American facility after a ruthless chemical attack by al Qaeda.

The book’s gripping storyline will appeal to readers of historical nonfiction. Its exhaustive documentation will prove valuable to military students, analysts, and historians and will help policy makers better understand what is possible in counterinsurgency. Photographs and maps further enhance the reader’s understanding of everything from tribal dynamics to the geography of firefights.

About Bill Ardolino

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Bill Ardolino is an associate editor of The Long War Journal. He was embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, the Iraqi Army, and the Iraqi Police in Fallujah, Habbaniyah, and Baghdad in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and later with U.S. and Afghan forces in Kabul, Helmand and Khost provinces in Afghanistan. His reports, columns, and photographs have received wide media exposure and have been cited in a number of academic publications. He lives in Washington, DC.
Published May 15, 2013 by Naval Institute Press. 320 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Fallujah Awakens

Publishers Weekly

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Headlines trumpeted the 2004 Battle of Fallujah, when Marines defeated Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda fighters in brutal urban battle, but few reports noted that rebels soon returned and resumed their

Mar 18 2013 | Read Full Review of Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sh...

Marine Corps Gazette

Rudder became the first black Marine officer commissioned in the regular Marine Corps.

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Defense Media Network

Ardolino cogently explains with rare and remarkable clarity intimate details of Iraqi tribal dynamics, a Gordian knot reality of contradictions and complexity so confusing to outsiders that Western writers often glossed over it with the oversimplified and unhelpful label “tribal politics.” Ardoli...

Jun 28 2013 | Read Full Review of Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sh...


In Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sheikhs, and the Battle Against Al Qaeda, reporter Bill Ardolino writes a compelling account of the deployment of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines (Alpha 1/24), a Reserve company from Michigan that deployed to Fallujah in the fall of 2006 and was firsthand ...

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