A Chance in Hell

The Men Who Triumphed Over Iraq's Deadliest City and Turned the Tide of War

Jim Michaels

St. Martin's Press

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The riveting account of how a small band of officers turned Iraq’s most violent city into a model of stability

Colonel Sean MacFarland’s brigade arrived with simple instructions: pacify Ramadi, Iraq without destroying it. Large swaths of the city belonged to al-Qaeda, which had declared the city its capital. Other neighborhoods were simply uninhabitable; the buildings’ bombed out shells and the streets piled with debris. Insurgents roamed freely. MacFarland and his officers were vastly outnumbered by the enemy. Their superiors didn’t think they had a chance.
An unconventional officer, MacFarland came up with a bold plan. He set up combat outposts in the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Snipers and Special Forces teams roamed the dark streets, killing al-Qaeda leaders and terrorist cells. MacFarland’s brigade engaged in some of the bloodiest street fighting of the war. While the U.S. military command was intent on setting up an American-style democracy, MacFarland and his officers realized tribal sheiks—many with checkered pasts and little regard for Western-style democracy—were the key to victory in the Sunni heartland. He won their trust and formed the unlikeliest of alliances.
Cited by President Bush as one of the war’s greatest successes, together the Americans and tribes fought back against al-Qaeda and won. A Chance in Hell is a violent and harrowing tale of men at war.

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1
Hero Flight
Behold, as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night.
—HENRY V
The doors opened, spilling a pool of yellow light into the darkness. Four stretcher bearers came out with the remains of Private First Class Brett Tribble, zipped into a black plastic body bag. The soldiers stood in two ranks, lining the gravel road in front of the makeshift morgue—a plywood building equipped with extra air conditioners to keep the bodies cool. First Sgt. David Shaw called the men to attention and the soldiers saluted as the stretcher bearers moved slowly

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Praise for A Chance in Hell

“Anbar province was the place where the Iraq war began to turn around, and in this book Jim Michaels captures that time and place. He also brings to this story a fine feel for how the U.S. military thinks and operates.”
--Thomas E. Ricks, bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble, and of ForeignPolicy.com’s “Best Defense” blog


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About the Author

Jim Michaels

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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Available Formats and Book Details

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

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
June 2010
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429950510
ISBN10: 142995051X
272 pages
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
June 2011
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312569525
ISBN10: 0312569521
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 288 pages, Plus eight page black-and-white photograph insert
$14.99
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