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Ghost Riders of Baghdad


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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • Preface: "No Shit, There We Were": Salman Pak Backstory
  • Enter the "Ghost Riders": 2nd Platoon, B/3-61 CAV
  • Citizenship and Sacrifice: Reflections on Military Service
  • Life as a Countdown: Drinking, Training, and Otherwise Getting By
  • Doing More with Less
  • "These Dudes Are Trying to Kill Us"
  • Indispensable Friends: Mark and the Interpreters
  • Breaking Point: Fear, Loss, and Defeat
  • Sunni versus Shia: The Anatomy of Sectarian Civil War
  • Ushering in the "Surge": Farewell Mada'in, Hello Baghdad
  • Troop Shortage, Troop Surge: Good People, Bad Advice
  • A Night to Remember
  • Shouting at Lindsay Graham
  • Staggering to the Finish Line: Aftermath in a Shattered Platoon
  • Disappointing Paths: Iraq, Seven Years On
  • War in the Rearview: On Life after Iraq
  • Coda: The Power of Memory
  • List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Index

About the Author

Major Daniel A. Sjursen was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. A 2005 graduate of West Point, he has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned a master's degree from the University of Kansas and is pursuing a doctorate in history while teaching at West Point.


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 counter insurgency in one of the world's most ancient cities. 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. The Iraq Wars remain a bone of contention for both the UK and the US. In this fascinating book, author Sjursen asks some searching questions which may leave some of the US commanders feeling uncomfortable. -- Paul Norman Books Monthly

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