Book Review # 2 : Good overall survey of America's conflict with Iraq.

From Storm to Freedom:  America’s Long War with Iraq.   By John R. Ballard.  Annapolis, MD:  Naval Institute Press, 2010.  ISBN 978-1-59114-018-4.  Maps.  List of acronyms.  Illustrations.  Notes.  Bibliography.  Index.  Pp. xxvii, 321.  $37.95.

So, on to the second of my four books.  I will confess that I already owned this book...big surprise, I know.  However, I bought this particular book because its concept intrigued me.  John Ballard, a retired Marine Colonel, has written what I would call a survey overview of America's "war" with Iraq from 1990-2010.  When you consider in that 20 year span the US fought two hot, one warm, and a long cold war with Saddam Hussein, this sort of book needed to be written.

What I really liked about this book is the continuum of events that Ballard ties together, including the Desert Fox air operations of 1998 and the long and tedious flights of Operations Northern and Southern Watch (which your own Grouchy Historian supported during his time on the Big E) which gave the US a major operational advantage when the shooting started again in 2003.

Because the book is only about 300 pages of text, Ballard does not go into great detail on any particular aspect of the conflict, BUT as an introductory volume for the War College or even service academy student in the next 10 years to try and understand why the US military spent so much time focused on a little pissant county like Iraq for nearly 20 years, this is an excellent book.

Ballard does a pretty decent job of military and historical analysis, and offers some interesting insights on the effects of sanctions and the status of Iraq's WMD programs prior to the US invasion in 2003.  His analysis of the post-2003 COIN environment is also interesting, if a bit shallow due to the nature of the book.  There was a lot of military activity going on in Iraq in the last 5 years, especially during the Surge and Ballard does kind of quickly move through much of this operational period with a minimum level of detail, something I felt needed a little more time spent describing the wholesale turnaround of US strategic and operational planning and action.

However, if you consider the scope and purpose of the book, this is not a major hindrance since there are a number of detailed histories beginning to emerge on the conflict in Iraq....more on that in another post.

Although I think the price is a little steep, Amazon is truly your friend here and sells it for about $25 new, so if you want to know what the whole US-Iraq kerfuffle was about in a single volume without getting bogged down in details, read this book