The Iraq War was one of the most controversial conflicts in recent memory. To this day, there are passionate arguments for and against the war and what could have been done differently. If you’re looking to learn more about this complex and fascinating period in history, check out these five essential books on the Iraq War.
1. “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq” by Thomas E. Ricks
This book is a comprehensive account of the Bush administration’s decisions leading up to the Iraq War and the early years of the conflict. Ricks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, interviewed over 600 people connected to the war to paint a picture of what went wrong—and how it could have been prevented.
2. “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001” by Steve Coll
This Pulitzer Prize-winning book chronicles the CIA’s involvement in Afghanistan from 1979 onwards. Coll draws on previously classified documents and interviews with key figures to tell the story of how America’s involvement in Afghanistan led directly to 9/11—and ultimately, the Iraq War.
3. “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” by Lawrence Wright
Wright’s book is widely considered to be one of the definitive works on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Through extensive research and interviews with al-Qaeda members and associates, Wright tells the story of how bin Laden turned a small group of militants into a global terrorist network—and how America’s response to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa set the stage for 9/11 and the Iraq War.
4. “Generals in Retreat: The Saga of America’s High Command from Korea to Vietnam” by Willam A Cosson
Cosson’s book focuses on senior American military leaders during three consecutive wars: Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. He looks at how these leaders navigated political pressure from civilian leaders as well as disagreements within military ranks—and argues that their failures led directly to catastrophe in Vietnam and Iraq.
5. “The Good Soldiers” by David Finkel
Finkel spent 15 months embedded with a U..S Army battalion in Baghdad during some of the deadliest fighting of the war. This National Book Critics Circle Award-winning book offers a searing, intimate look at what life was really like for soldiers stationed in Iraq—and how easily idealism can turn into nihilism in the face of unending violence.
- “No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah” by Bing West
- “Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone” by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
- “Iraq: From War to a New Authoritarianism?” by Toby Dodge
- “Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq” by Tanya Talbot
- “Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World” by Scott Anderson
- “My War: Killing Time in Iraq” by Colby Buzzell
- “AH64 Apache Longbow versus T72 tank Khalid Ibn al-Walid 1991 Gulf War Duel.” By Doug Dildy, Darrell Lockett
- “The Accidental Guerilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One”” By David Kilcullen
- “War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terror” by Douglas J. Feith
- “The Forever War” Dexter Filkins
- ” Baghdad EOD: The Bravo-Two-Zero Patrol Blows Up an IED.” By Doug Ritter, Benivan Korenfeld, Melanie Bateman-Korenfeld
- “Snakepit” Molly Moore
- “Black Hearts” Jim Frederick
- “Lone Survivor” Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
While there is no shortage of books on the Iraq War, these five are essential readings for anyone looking to understand this complex conflict. From informative histories to personal accounts from those who were on the ground, these books offer insight into every facet of America’s involvement in Iraq—and its lasting impact on both America and the Middle East region.