Fiasco (book)

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (2006) is a book by Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas E. Ricks. Fiasco deals with the history of the Iraq War from the planning phase to combat operations to 2006 and argues that the war was badly planned and executed. Ricks based the book in part on interviews with military personnel involved in the planning and execution of the war. In 2009, Ricks published a sequel The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008. Fiasco was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.[1]

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
Fiasco cover
Cover of the paperback edition
Author Thomas E. Ricks
Country United States
Language English
Subject Iraq War
Publisher Penguin Group
Publication date
ISBN 1-59420-103-X
OCLC 67375172
956.7044/3 22
LC Class DS79.76 .R535 2006


The book alleges that the planning of the Iraq war was mismanaged by both the Bush administration as well as the U.S. Army. Ricks then goes on to outline the infighting between the senior policy advisers such as Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and the Army. Ricks includes quotes from former generals of the Iraq war, former Army generals, and several top level officials, both working for the Bush administration and Douglas Feith's planning contingent. Moving into the war, Ricks alleges various miscommunication and mismanagement of the Army's combat tactics as well as criticizing the overall strategy. Ricks also heavily criticizes the actions of L. Paul Bremer and explores his impact as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Quotes from Fiasco

…strategy. That is a grand-sounding word, and it is frequently misused by laymen as a synonym for tactics. In fact, strategy has a very different and quite simple meaning that flows from just one short set of questions. Who are we, and what are we ultimately trying to do here? How will we do it, and what resources and means will we employ in doing it? The four answers give rise to one’s strategy. Ideally, one’s tactics will then follow from them – that is, this is who we are, this is the outcome we wish to achieve, this is how we aim to do it, and this is what we will use to do it. But addressing the questions well can be surprisingly difficult, and if the answers are incorrect or incomplete, or the goals listed not reachable, then the consequences can be disastrous.

– Thomas Ricks, Fiasco

They said they came to liberate us. Liberate us from what? They came and said they would free us. Free us from what? We have traditions, morals, and customs. We are Arabs. We’re different from the West. Baghdad is the mother of Arab culture, and they want to wipe out our culture, absolutely.

– Mohammed Abdullah (Baghdad citizen quoted by Ricks in Fiasco)


  1. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes | Finalists". Retrieved 2013-02-22.

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