Academic journal article Military Review

A CHANCE IN HELL: The Men Who Triumphed over Iraq's Deadliest City and Turned the Tide of the War

Academic journal article Military Review

A CHANCE IN HELL: The Men Who Triumphed over Iraq's Deadliest City and Turned the Tide of the War

Article excerpt

A CHANCE IN HELL: The Men Who Triumphed Over Iraq's Deadliest City and Turned the Tide of the War, Jim Michaels, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2010, 259 pages, $17.15.

The "surge" that changed the course of the war in Iraq was a complex and, in some ways, mysterious event. Its origins and evolution are likely to be a subject of fierce debate among military analysts and historians for years to come. However, what will not be debated is the central role of the "Anbar Awakening" in recasting the terms of the Iraqi conflict. Probably more than any other single factor, it made a victory against the insurgency conceivable.

In A Chance in Hell, Jim Michaels traces the beginning of the awakening to a place - Anbar Province's key city, Ramadi - and a partnership - the alliance of two men, an Iraqi sheikh and an American colonel. They were Abdul Sattar Bezia of the Abu Risha tribe and Colonel Sean MacFarland, commander of the 1 st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. Sattar was a minor chieftain who had made the bulk of his fortune in oil smuggling. MacFarland was the soft-spoken, devout maverick from upstate New York who led a mechanized "legacy" force that seemed ill-suited for the mission of urban counterinsurgency. These unlikely allies cooperated to break the insurgent grip on Ramadi. In doing so, they established a model for success that later "surge" reinforcements would follow as they deployed into the battlefields of Iraq. …

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