A Chance in Hell: The Men Who Triumphed Over Iraq's Deadliest City and Turned the Tide of War

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St. Martin's Press, Jun 22, 2010 - History - 272 pages
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The riveting account of how one brigade turned Iraq's most violent city into a model of stability

Colonel Sean MacFarland's brigade arrived in Iraq's deadliest city with simple instructions: pacify Ramadi without destroying it. The odds were against him from the start. In fact, few thought he would succeed. Ramadi had been going steadily downhill. By 2006, insurgents roamed freely in many parts of the city in open defiance of Iraq's U.S.-backed government. Al-Qaeda had boldly declared Ramadi its capital. Even the U.S. military acknowledged the province would be the last to be pacified.

A lanky officer with a boyish face, MacFarland was no Patton. But his soft voice masked an iron will and a willingness to take risks. While most of the American military was focused on taming Baghdad, MacFarland laid out a bold plan for Ramadi. His soldiers would take on the insurgents in their own backyard. He set up combat outposts in the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. Snipers roamed the dark streets, killing al-Qaeda leaders and terrorist cells. U.S. tanks rumbled down the streets, firing point blank into buildings occupied by insurgents. MacFarland's brigade engaged in some of the bloodiest street fighting of the war. Casualties on both sides mounted. Al-Qaeda wasn't going to give up easily. Ramadi was too important. MacFarland wasn't going to back down either.

The two sides had fought to a stalemate.

At least until Sheik Abdul Sattar Bezia al-Rishawi emerged. A minor tribal leader, Sheik Sattar had earned his reputation as a smuggler. He carried a large six-shooter on his hip and had a taste for whiskey. But he hated al-Qaeda and was watching MacFarland's brigade as they battled militants toe-to-toe. This was a different group of Americans, Sattar thought. Sattar approached MacFarland and said he was ready to join with the Americans and fight al-Qaeda. Other officers might have kept their distance. MacFarland didn't hesitate. He promised Sattar his support.

What followed was one of history's unlikeliest -- and most successful -- partnerships. Together, the Americans and Sattar's growing band of fighters drove al-Qaeda from Ramadi. A Chance in Hell is compelling tale of combat leadership and how a handful of men turned the tide of war at a time when it looked most hopeless.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Hero Flight
7
2 Sideshow
21
3 Valley of the Gun
32
4 Back to the Brawl
38
5 Fix Ramadi
50
6 Falcon
64
7 Counterattack
77
14 The Chairmans Briefing
162
15 Shark Fin
166
16 Wisam
177
17 Justice
190
18 Worthy Allies
200
19 The Test
211
20 Pure Blood
220
Notes
235

8 Sheik Sattar
86
9 Awakening
95
10 This Is Iraq
104
11 Secret Talks
121
12 Angel on the Shoulder
134
13 Sympathy for the Devil
145
Selected Bibliography
253
Where They Are Now
255
Acknowledgments
257
In Memoriam
260
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

JIM MICHAELS is a military writer for USA Today and an experienced war correspondent, who has made dozens of reporting trips to Iraq, Afghanistan and other war zones. A former U.S. Marine infantry officer, he lives in Falls Church, Virginia.

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