The Gamble by Thomas E. Ricks
General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008

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Fiasco, Thomas E. Ricks’s #1 New York Times bestseller, transformed the political dialogue on the war in Iraq—The Gamble is the next news breaking installment

Thomas E. Ricks uses hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with top officers in Iraq and extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to document the inside story of the Iraq War since late 2005 as only he can, examining the events that took place as the military was forced to reckon with itself, the surge was launched, and a very different war began.

Since early 2007 a new military order has directed American strategy. Some top U.S. officials now in Iraq actually opposed the 2003 invasion, and almost all are severely critical of how the war was fought from then through 2006. At the core of the story is General David Petraeus, a military intellectual who has gathered around him an unprecedented number of officers with both combat experience and Ph.D.s. Underscoring his new and unorthodox approach, three of his key advisers are quirky foreigners—an Australian infantryman-turned- anthropologist, an antimilitary British woman who is an expert in the Middle East, and a Mennonite-educated Palestinian pacifist.

The Gamble offers news-breaking account, revealing behind-the-scenes disagreements between top commanders. We learn that almost every single officer in the chain of command fought the surge. Many of Petraeus’s closest advisers went to Iraq extremely pessimistic, doubting that the surge would have any effect, and his own boss was so skeptical that he dispatched an admiral to Baghdad in the summer of 2007 to come up with a strategy to replace Petraeus’s. That same boss later flew to Iraq to try to talk Petraeus out of his planned congressional testimony. The Gamble examines the congressional hearings through the eyes of Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and their views of the questions posed by the 2008 presidential candidates.

For Petraeus, prevailing in Iraq means extending the war. Thomas E. Ricks concludes that the war is likely to last another five to ten years—and that that outcome is a best case scenario. His stunning conclusion, stated in the last line of the book, is that “the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered by us and by the world have not yet happened.”

About Thomas E. Ricks

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Thomas E. Ricks is The Washington Post’s senior Pentagon correspondent, where he has covered the U.S. military since 2000. Until the end of 1999 he held the same beat at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter for seventeen years. A member of two Pulitzer Prize- winning teams for national reporting, he has reported on U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the author of Fiasco, Making the Corps, and A Soldier’s Duty.
Published December 22, 2009 by Penguin Books. 416 pages
Genres: History, War, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Gamble

The Guardian

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President Obama announced in late February that the US combat mission in Iraq would end by 31 August 2010, spelling out what the US would not now be expected to achieve: "What we will not do is let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of achievable goals ...

Apr 11 2009 | Read Full Review of The Gamble: General David Pet...

The Guardian

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The Gamble : General Patraeus and the Untold Story of the American Surge in Iraq, 2006-2008 by Thomas R Ricks Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop ...

Mar 08 2009 | Read Full Review of The Gamble: General David Pet...

The Globe and Mail

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The "surge" - sending an additional 30,000 U.S. soldiers to Iraq in a last-ditch effort to end the spiral of worsening violence - was a plan they had all opposed and in September, 2007, they all agreed, it wasn't working.

Feb 21 2009 | Read Full Review of The Gamble: General David Pet...


“No matter how the U.S. war in Iraq ends, it appears that today we may be only halfway through it.”—Thomas Ricks, The Gamble Those who read Thomas Rick’s lacerating 2006 take on the first phase of the Iraq War debacle, Fiasco (given what he uncovered, the title was shockingly not hyperbole), mi...

Mar 20 2009 | Read Full Review of The Gamble: General David Pet...

London Review of Books

By 2006, with Bush still insisting that the war was going swimmingly and the Pentagon keen to hand the war over to the Iraqis, it seemed that the US was heading for a catastrophic defeat.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Ricks, author of the acclaimed Fiasco ( 4 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2006), the definitive book on the early phases of the Iraq War, is a special military correspondent for the Washington Post.

Feb 16 2009 | Read Full Review of The Gamble: General David Pet...

Socialist Review

For Barack Obama the Iraq war was a "dumb" war fought for the wrong reasons and with the wrong methods.

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