Cover image for Why we lost : a general's inside account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars
Title:
Why we lost : a general's inside account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars
Author:
Bolger, Daniel P., 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
Physical Description:
xlii, 502 pages, 16 pages of unnumbered plates : illustrations (chiefly color), maps ; 24 cm
Summary:
Over a thirty-five year career, Daniel Bolger rose through the army infantry to become a three-star general, commanding in both theaters of the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. He participated in meetings with top level military and civilian players, where strategy was made and managed. At the same time, he regularly carried a rifle alongside rank-and-file soldiers in combat actions, unusual for a general. Now, as a witness to all levels of military command, Bolger offers a unique assessment of these wars, from 9/11 to the final withdrawal from the region. Writing with hard-won experience and unflinching honesty, Bolger makes the firm case that in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we lost -- but we didn't have to. Intelligence was garbled. Key decision makers were blinded by spreadsheets or theories. And, at the root of our failure, we never really understood our enemy. Why We Lost is a timely, forceful, and compulsively readable account of these wars from a fresh and authoritative perspective.
General Note:
"An Eamon Dolan Book."
Language:
English
Contents:
Apocalypse then -- Triumph : the Global War on Terrorism, September 2001 to April 2003. Harbingers ; 9/11 ; The Hindu Kush ; Anaconda ; A weapon of mass destruction ; Apocalypse then redux -- Hubris : the Iraq Campaign, April 2003 to December 2011. "Mission accomplished" ; What happened in Fallujah ; The color purple ; Implosion ; Malik Daoud ; Requiem on the Tigris -- Nemesis : the Afghan Campaign, April 2003 to December 2014. Undone ; The good war ; Taliban heartland ; Malik Daoud again ; Attrition ; Green on blue -- Infinite justice.
ISBN:
9780544370487
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A high-ranking general's gripping insider account of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how it all went wrong.

Over a thirty-five-year career, Daniel Bolger rose through the army infantry to become a three-star general, commanding in both theaters of the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. He participated in meetings with top-level military and civilian players, where strategy was made and managed. At the same time, he regularly carried a rifle alongside rank-and-file soldiers in combat actions, unusual for a general. Now, as a witness to all levels of military command, Bolger offers a unique assessment of these wars, from 9/11 to the final withdrawal from the region. Writing with hard-won experience and unflinching honesty, Bolger makes the firm case that in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we lost -- but we didn't have to. Intelligence was garbled. Key decision makers were blinded by spreadsheets or theories. And, at the root of our failure, we never really understood our enemy. Why We Lost is a timely, forceful, and compulsively readable account of these wars from a fresh and authoritative perspective.


Author Notes

DANIEL BOLGER completed thirty-five years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a lieutenant general in 2013, having held command posts in Iraq and Afghanistan. His military awards include five Bronze Star medals (one for valor) and the Combat Action Badge.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Iraq was a sectarian mess even before U.S. combat troops left, and now it faces the possibility of being overwhelmed by the so-called Islamic Caliphate. And Afghanistan? Who knows, but it doesn't look like victory right now. Over his 35-year career in the military, Bolger commanded troops in both theaters and is perhaps the highest-ranking military figure with that experience to make some hard, tough assertions. He maintains both wars were winnable but nevertheless doomed by mistakes made in Washington and in the field. We never understood our enemies and how to fight them, and we never prepared the American public for the lengthy war and commitment that success demanded. Bolger suggests we might have been wiser to invade, topple the Taliban and Saddam, and then leave both places to chaos. Unfortunately, he never considers the deeper question: Can the so-called war on terror be fought best by invading Third World countries whose people are unlikely to embrace our social and political values? This is a necessary but, in the end, disappointing work.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Despite this book's subtitle, this is not a first-person narrative detailing exactly how Bolger, who retired in 2013 as a lieutenant general, played a part in America's post-9/11 military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Apart from a frank author's note, which opens with Bolger admitting, hyperbolically, that he "lost the Global War on Terrorism," the work presents an outside view of events, and Bolger doesn't say which specific decisions and battles he was party to. The opening section notes that "there's enough fault to go around, and in this telling, the suits will get their share. But I know better, and so do the rest of the generals.... This was our war to lose, and we did." That provocative stance, which runs counter to the conventional wisdom (that the Pentagon and White House, for instance, made poor political decisions), would be more persuasive had Bolger provided his eyewitness basis for it. On a different note, what feels like a strained effort to be hip undercuts the essential grimness of the books. Apart from these downsides, Bolger offers a comprehensive look at how these wars were fought during his tenure, which for some readers could be a useful introduction to the conflicts. Maps & 16p color insert. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Retired U.S. Army general Bolger (Dragons at War: Land Battles in the Desert) provides an insider's look at the global war on terrorism and why he believes America lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reviews how the Unites States became embroiled in the conflict, victories that were achieved, mistakes that were made, and how, eventually, the decision was reached to pull troops out of both countries. This monograph is well researched, straightforward in its arguments, and exceptionally accessible. Bolger is, at times, brutal in his honesty, and what makes this book all the more refreshing is that he doesn't excuse his unflinching critique and acknowledges that as much as he might try to remain objective, his involvement in the conflict meant that he wouldn't always succeed. While that's true, his experience makes for a better narrative. Verdict This work will appeal to those with an interest in American history, military history, Middle Eastern studies, and autobiography.-Crystal Goldman, Univ. of California, San Diego Lib. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

### Excerpted from Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars by Daniel Bolger All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Mapsp. ix
Authors Notep. xiii
Prologue; Apocalypse Thenp. xviii
Part I Triumph: The Global War on Terrorism, September 2001 to April 2003
1 Harbingersp. 3
2 9/11p. 25
3 The Hindu Kushp. 46
4 Anacondap. 73
5 A Weapon of Mass Destructionp. 97
6 Apocalypse Then Reduxp. 120
Part II Hubris: The Iraq Campaign, April 2003 to December 2011
7 "Mission Accomplished"p. 147
8 What Happened in Fallujahp. 171
9 The Color Purplep. 192
10 Implosionp. 214
11 Malik Daoudp. 237
12 Requiem on the Tigrisp. 258
Part III Nemesis: The Afghan Campaign, April 2003 to December 2014
13 Undonep. 279
14 The Good Warp. 301
15 Taliban Heartlandp. 325
16 Malik Daoud Againp. 344
17 Attritionp. 373
18 Green on Bluep. 396
Epilogue: Infinite Justicep. 416
Acknowledgmentsp. 437
Notesp. 438
Indexp. 486

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