As public support for the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq continues to dwindle, there’s certainly no shortage of published critiques of the enterprise. But Thomas Ricks’s sober assessment Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Penguin) stands out not only for its panoramic sweep but also for the author’s willingness to criticize officers and troops in the field as much as politicians in Washington. Ricks, a senior Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post, apparently knows plenty of angry people in the U.S. military who dare not go public with what they know. These anonymous sources provide much of the underpinning of his book–a comprehensive and devastating indictment of the whole Iraq debacle, which Ricks says “may come to be seen as one of the most profligate actions in the history of American foreign policy.” Ricks makes his case not with political polemic but by the steady accumulation of facts and detail, which he uses to show how our Iraq enterprise has been self-sabotaged at every turn by poor military strategy, denial, and an abject failure to learn from the mistakes of Vietnam. Even for readers who opposed the war from the outset Ricks provides more than enough new material to make Fiasco a sickeningly effective read. a Thu 10/5, 6 PM, Pritzker Military Library, 610 N. Fairbanks, 312-587-0234, reservations suggested.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Major David Olson.