Degrade and destroy The inside story of the war against the Islamic State, from Barack Obama to Donald Trump

Michael R. Gordon, 1951-

Book - 2022

"A history of the United States' war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria"--Provided by publisher.

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New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2022.
First edition
Physical Description
vii, 475 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 405-453) and index.
Main Author
Michael R. Gordon, 1951- (author)
  • Impala Rider
  • Plan B
  • An Appeal from Baghdad
  • Make or Break
  • All Fall Down
  • Back to the Future
  • Iraq First
  • Talon Anvil
  • The Darkest Hour
  • Combat
  • Dweller
  • The War Room
  • The Next Ten Plays
  • Objective Fish
  • Eagle Strike
  • The Tactical Directive
  • Council of War
  • The Final Days
  • Wrath of the Euphrates
  • Eclipse
  • Jazeera Storm
  • Continuing Resolve.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Gordon, the New York Times national security correspondent and a best-selling author (e.g., The Endgame), details how we've handled the rise of ISIS without boots on the ground and what the next president can expect to face.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Coauthor with Gen. Bernard E. Trainor of two key titles on the Iraq war, the national security correspondent for the Wall Street Journal looks at our battle with ISIS. Major promotion. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

National security correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and coauthor with Ret. Gen. Bernard Trainor of the best-sellers Cobra II and The Generals' War, Gordon recounts a war begun in 2014 when President Barack Obama committed to major action against ISIS, coordinating with regional and European allies, returning advisers to Iraq, and initiating a large-scale bombing. With a 30,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

America snatches victory from the jaws of bloody quagmire in this gripping history of the battle with ISIS. Wall Street Journal correspondent Gordon (The End Game) recaps Operation Inherent Resolve, the yearslong U.S. campaign to defeat the Islamic State after it conquered much of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and proclaimed a medieval-minded caliphate complete with sex slavery and beheadings. He paints it as a long, twilight struggle as the U.S. assembled a fractious coalition comprising the inept Iraqi military, Shiite and Sunni militias, and squabbling Kurdish forces, all while negotiating Iraq's poisonous factional politics and the meddling of Iran, Russia, Syria, and Turkey. The U.S. government's internal divisions were equally sharp as the Obama administration gingerly avoided heavy troop commitments while deploying extensive technology and airpower to ensure victory. Gordon, who embedded with anti-ISIS forces, elucidates both backroom policy wrangles and frontline firefights; his riveting recreation of the 2016–2017 battle to retake Mosul is an epic of desperate combat that culminates with female suicide bombers detonating themselves at security checkpoints crowded with fleeing civilians. This is the definitive record of a critical chapter in the fight against extremism. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (June) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

This definitive account of the struggle against ISIS examines how Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden have fought the undeclared war, with insider accounts of the decision-making process and a frank assessment of where we stand today. 30,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A history of the United States' war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An essential account of the struggle against ISIS –and President Trump’s way of war.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"This is the ultimate insider's view of perhaps the darkest chapter of the Forever Wars. Michael Gordon knows everyone, was seemingly everywhere, and brings a lifetime of brilliant reporting to telling this crucial story." —Retired U.S. Navy admiral James Stavridis, 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and author of To Risk it All: Nine Crises and the Crucible of DecisionAn essential account of the struggle against ISIS—and of how Presidents Obama, Trump, and Biden have waged war.In the summer of 2014, President Barack Obama faced an unwelcome surprise: insurgents from the Islamic State had seized the Iraqi city of Mosul and proclaimed a new caliphate, which they were ruling with an iron fist and using to launch terrorist attacks abroad. After considerable deliberation, President Obama sent American troops back to Iraq. The new mission was to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, primarily by advising Iraqi and Syrian partners who would do the bulk of the fighting and by supporting them with airpower and artillery. More than four years later, the caliphate had been dismantled, the cities of Mosul and Raqqa lay in ruins, and several thousand U.S. troops remained to prevent ISIS from making a comeback. The “by, with, and through” strategy was hailed as a template for future campaigns. But how was the war actually fought? What were the key decisions, successes, and failures? And what was learned? In Degrade and Destroy, the bestselling author and Wall Street Journal national security correspondent Michael R. Gordon reveals the strategy debates, diplomatic gambits, and military operations that shaped the struggle against the Islamic State. With extraordinary access to top U.S. officials and military commanders and to the forces on the battlefield, Gordon offers a riveting narrative that ferrets out some of the war’s most guarded secrets. Degrade and Destroy takes us inside National Security Council meetings at which Obama and his top aides grapple with early setbacks and discuss whether the war can be won. It also offers the most detailed account to date of how President Donald Trump waged war—delegating greater authority to the Pentagon but jeopardizing the outcome with a rush for the exit. Drawing on his reporting in Iraq and Syria, Gordon documents the closed-door deliberations of U.S. generals with their Iraqi and Syrian counterparts and describes some of the toughest urban battles since World War II. As Americans debate the future of using force abroad, Gordon’s book offers vital insights into how our wars today are fought against militant foes, and the enduring lessons we can draw from them.