... combines Washington decision-making with battlefield reporting in ways that few other writers can manage. This account of America’s war against the Islamic State is Mr. Gordon’s first without co-author Bernard Trainor, who died in 2018, but it equals its forerunners in quality. While daily press reporting strains to draw overbroad conclusions from insufficient data, Mr. Gordon, a national security correspondent for the Journal, maximizes history and minimizes judgments. He presents his analysis, of course, but it’s always moored in reality.
... an intricate and very dense narrative of policy wars in Washington and Iraq, during the ups and downs of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS ... This densely packed narrative contains a lot of detailed material and research that will prove invaluable for future historians. Events in the ground war are discussed, but the primary focus of this book is policy, from Washington down to local commanders, dealing with a myriad of interest groups. There are also maps and 50 pages of detailed endnotes. Recommended for libraries that serve clients deeply interested in Mideast affairs ... More useful for specialists and historians than the general public but a valuable source for policy development during a confusing period.
... gripping ... 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.