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July 18 , 2009

Ghost Riders of Baghdad

Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge


From October 2006 to December 2007, Daniel A. Sjursen—then a U.S. Army lieutenant—led a light scout platoon across Baghdad. The experiences of Ghost Rider platoon provide a soldier’s-eye view of the incredible complexities of warfare, peacekeeping, and counterinsurgency in one of the world’s most ancient cities.
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Sjursen reflects broadly and critically on the prevailing narrative of the surge as savior of America’s longest war, on the overall military strategy in Iraq, and on U.S. relations with ordinary Iraqis. At a time when just a handful of U.S. senators and representatives have a family member in combat, Sjursen also writes movingly on questions of America’s patterns of national service. Who now serves and why? What connection does America’s professional army have to the broader society and culture? What is the price we pay for abandoning the model of the citizen soldier?

With the bloody emergence of ISIS in 2014, Iraq and its beleaguered, battle-scarred people are again much in the news. Unlike other books on the U.S. war in Iraq, Ghost Riders of Baghdad is part battlefield chronicle, part critique of American military strategy and policy, and part appreciation of Iraq and its people. At once a military memoir, history, and cultural commentary, Ghost Riders of Bahdad delivers a compelling story and a deep appreciation of both those who serve and the civilians they strive to protect. Sjursen provides a riveting addition to our understanding of modern warfare and its human costs.
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