Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Final results: Ten worst Iraq war memoirs

On the basis of reader responses to my partial list, plus a bunch of e-mails from less brave people who wouldn’t post, here is a compilation the 10 worst books written about the Iraq war. (Note to friend in the hills of eastern Afghanistan: What are they gonna do to you, cut off your hair ...

donjd2/flickr
donjd2/flickr

On the basis of reader responses to my partial list, plus a bunch of e-mails from less brave people who wouldn’t post, here is a compilation the 10 worst books written about the Iraq war. (Note to friend in the hills of eastern Afghanistan: What are they gonna do to you, cut off your hair and send you to the hills of eastern Afghanistan?)

Three commonalities strike me about these books. Almost all are by senior officers or officials, almost all have co-authors, and almost all have lousy titles. Only one journalist made the list: Michael Hastings. That’s right-General McChrystal’s Rolling Stone pal.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been immersed in World War II memoirs and histories for several months. For whatever reason, they tend to be much better, even when from generals. Slim, Eisenhower and Gavin all produced very interesting books, while the only real stinker I’ve read so far is Mark Clark’s. 

And now, the full list of Iraq war losers, beginning with the worst of the worst:

1. Tommy R. Franks: American Soldier
2. L. Paul Bremer III:
My Year in Iraq
3. Ricardo Sanchez:
Wiser in Battle
4. Janis Karpinksi:
One Woman’s Army
5. Douglas Feith:
War and Decision
6.
Richard Myers: Eyes on the Horizon
7.
Mike DeLong: Inside Centcom
8. Nathan Sassaman:
Warrior King
9. Michael Hastings
: I Lost My Love in Baghdad
10.
Midge Decter: Rumsfeld (likely to be replaced by the man’s own book)

Now where do I go to get my wasted time back?

On the basis of reader responses to my partial list, plus a bunch of e-mails from less brave people who wouldn’t post, here is a compilation the 10 worst books written about the Iraq war. (Note to friend in the hills of eastern Afghanistan: What are they gonna do to you, cut off your hair and send you to the hills of eastern Afghanistan?)

Three commonalities strike me about these books. Almost all are by senior officers or officials, almost all have co-authors, and almost all have lousy titles. Only one journalist made the list: Michael Hastings. That’s right-General McChrystal’s Rolling Stone pal.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been immersed in World War II memoirs and histories for several months. For whatever reason, they tend to be much better, even when from generals. Slim, Eisenhower and Gavin all produced very interesting books, while the only real stinker I’ve read so far is Mark Clark’s. 

And now, the full list of Iraq war losers, beginning with the worst of the worst:

1. Tommy R. Franks: American Soldier
2. L. Paul Bremer III:
My Year in Iraq
3. Ricardo Sanchez:
Wiser in Battle
4. Janis Karpinksi:
One Woman’s Army
5. Douglas Feith:
War and Decision
6.
Richard Myers: Eyes on the Horizon
7.
Mike DeLong: Inside Centcom
8. Nathan Sassaman:
Warrior King
9. Michael Hastings
: I Lost My Love in Baghdad
10.
Midge Decter: Rumsfeld (likely to be replaced by the man’s own book)

Now where do I go to get my wasted time back?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

An aerial display of J-10 fighter jets of China’s People’s Liberation.

The World Doesn’t Want Beijing’s Fighter Jets

Snazzy weapons mean a lot less if you don’t have friends.

German infantrymen folllow a tank toward Moscow in the snow in, 1941 during Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. The image was published in. Signal, a magazine published by the German Third Reich. Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images

Panzers, Beans, and Bullets

This wargame explains how Russia really stopped Hitler.

19th-century Chinese rebel Hong Xiuquan and social media influencer Addison Rae.

America’s Collapsing Meritocracy Is a Recipe for Revolt

Chinese history shows what happens when an old system loses its force.

Afghan militia gather with their weapons to support Afghanistan security forces.

‘It Will Not Be Just a Civil War’

Afghanistan’s foreign minister on what may await his country after the U.S. withdrawal.