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“The singular lesson from Fallujah is clear: when you send you soldiers into battle, let them finish the fight. Ordering the Marines to attack, then calling them off, then dithering, then sending them back in constituted a flawed set of strategic decisions. American soldiers are not political bargaining chips. They fight for one another, for winning the battle, and for their country's cause."

—Bing West, No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah, New York: Bantam, 2005.

The city of Fallujah was a major battleground in the war against the Iraqi insurgency. It involved some 15,000 combatants and claimed 153 American lives.

The twenty-month struggle had four phases. The first phase began with the fall of Saddam in April 2003.  The American military tried to win hearts and minds in the city and their failure to do so was clearly evident in March 2004. In that month, four American contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated in an incident perhaps inspired by Mogadishu

The second phase began as the Marines were ordered to take the city. But international outrage followed and the Marines were ordered to stop. In the third phase, the city was handed over to former Iraqi generals who claimed they could restore order. Instead, Abu Musab al Zarqawi set up headquarters and Fallujah became a haven for terrorists. Finally, in the fall of 2004, the fourth phase was underway: the Marines were again ordered to seize the city.

No True Glory is the complete account of the twenty-month struggle over Fallujah. Politics, policy and battle are all interwoven in a riveting tale. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

Bing West is also the author of The Pepperdogs, The Village, and The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division. All his books are most highly recommended.