Fletcher Features

Professor Richard Shultz Authors Book on Marines at Anbar

The cover of Prof. Richard Shultz's latest book 'The Marines Take Anbar'

The Marines Take Anbar: The Four-Year Fight Against Al Qaeda

The U.S. Marine Corps’ four-year campaign against al Qaeda in Anbar is a fight certain to take its place next to such legendary clashes as Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Chosin, and Khe Sanh. In his book, Professor Richard Shultz contends that its success constituted a major turning point in the Iraq War and helped alter the course of events and set the stage for the surge in Baghdad a year later. This book brings to light all the decisive details of how the Marines, between 2004 and 2008, adapted and improvised as they applied the hard lessons of past mistakes.


More than just a military tactic book, this well-researched study documents the reasons for the debacle in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's fall and how the Marines changed the tide of war. Shultz thoughtfully explains the Iraqi culture of which Americans were woefully ignorant: the supreme importance of tribes, honor, centuries-old antagonisms between Sunnis and Shias...

...Shultz's even-handed treatise highlights the war's needless suffering and praises Marines who can list Anbar alongside Iwo Jima and Okinawa in their pantheon of heroism.

Publisher's Weekly (Read the full piece) 

“Finally, a bold narrative that captures the truth of the four-year struggle in the Anbar Province.  Dr. Shultz so effectively chronicles the historic interaction amongst the tribes, the strategic mistakes, and the brutality of the fighting, that it seems almost as if he was there.  Marines, sailors, and soldiers who fought in Anbar will rejoice that the story of their sacrifices and successes—which created conditions for winning the war in Iraq—has been told.”

—Gen. James T. Conway, USMC (Ret.), 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps

“The Iraq War may have been a debacle, but the story of United States Marines in Anbar province constitutes a triumph of innovation and practicality over adversity. Richard Shultz has given us the glorious, comprehensive history of marines in Anbar.  In doing so, he has shown why counterinsurgency, while thankless and controversial, will remain relevant as long as ground forces encounter civilian populations.”

—Robert D. Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts and The Revenge of Geography

“The Marine’s campaign to secure Anbar Province in Iraq will rank as one of the Corps’ historic battle achievements.  Dick Shultz’s brilliant account of that campaign is rich in lessons learned and examples of adaptability.  The Marines Take Anbar will be a classic study in counterinsurgency.”

Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.)

“While there are many who might prefer to forget about America’s troubled involvement in Iraq, Professor Shultz masterfully provides the best reason to study and learn from it:  the experience of the U.S. Marines in Anbar Province between 2004 and 2008.  It is a story of doctrinal and operational innovation and persistence leading to a triumph as important and memorable as any in the Marine’s long and battle-honored history.  The Marines Take Anbar is required reading for anyone trying to understand the security complications and challenges of irregular warfare in the 21st Century.”

—Professor Bruce Hoffman, Director for Security Studies, Georgetown University

“Richard Shultz has written a gripping account of the Anbar Awakening, and of the role of the Marines in taking that province back from Al Qaeda.  It teaches two large lessons:  that all counterinsurgency campaigns are unique, and that no matter how much is done to win over a population and enable it to defend itself, hard fighting needs to be done.  An invaluable contribution to the literature on the Iraq war.”

—Dr. Eliot A. Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS