Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sheikhs and the Battle Against al Qaeda


We are pleased to announce the publication of Bill Ardolino’s book Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sheikhs and the Battle Against al Qaeda. Based on hundreds of interviews with 138 Iraqi and American subjects conducted over the past five years, the book details the Sunni tribal “Awakening” and the US Marine counterinsurgency campaign that helped secure the area during 2006-2007. The book has earned a coveted “starred review” from Publishers Weekly:

Headlines trumpeted the 2004 Battle of Fallujah, when Marines defeated Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda fighters in brutal urban battle, but few reports noted that rebels soon returned and resumed their attacks. An embedded reporter at the time, Ardolino (associate editor of the Long War Journal) delivers a brilliant, detailed description of events in 2007, when Marines, tribal leaders, and local Iraqis worked together to again eject the insurgents–hopefully, this time, permanently. The author is wise to remind readers that al-Qaeda was never terribly popular in Iraq; it espoused a form of Islam considered violent and unfamiliar, “even by conservative Fallujan standards,” and its success required vicious retaliation against uncooperative Iraqis. Even so, many refused to help the radical group, opting instead to side with American forces for a variety of personal and political reasons. Ardolino describes one Marine battalion near Fallujah that achieved remarkable success by enlisting the aid of an ambitious young sheikh nicknamed “Dark.” Combining eye-witness accounts of political frustrations, the dangers of the “irrepressible and deadly creativity” of insurgents, and sympathetic portraits of the locals, Ardolino’s is an outstanding account of the winding down of a resoundingly unpopular war.

Fallujah Awakens provides a rich look at counterinsurgency efforts in Fallujah and brings to life key events that were mere abstractions in media coverage. For instance, Bill vividly describes a chemical attack against Iraqi civilians in the village of Albu Aifan, reconstructing the event in minute-by-minute detail that highlights the barbarity of al Qaeda in Iraq. The ramifications of that attack, and the Marines’ response to it, proved to be a critical turning point for the war in Fallujah.

Since 2006, Bill has provided outstanding reports as an embedded journalist for The Long War Journal, observing operations firsthand in Fallujah, Habbaniyah, and Baghdad in Iraq, and in Musa Qala, Now Zad, Delaram, Kabul, Sabari, Khost City, and Panjwai in Afghanistan. The editors of The Long War Journal strongly encourage you to support Bill and purchase Fallujah Awakens. All author proceeds from the first edition will be donated to the Semper Fi Fund to benefit injured service members.

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  • Gerald says:

    My next read !!

  • jhenry says:

    This is on my summer vacation reading list.
    I met with Fallujati Iraqis visiting the US in 2006 and 2007. There was a difference in attitudes and perspectives between the visits. The major change was the start of harakat al-sahawa, the Awakening Movement. In 2006, they were downtrodden with their homes destroyed and caught in the crossfire between AQI and MNF-I. By 2007, Fallujah was being rebuilt and the Sunnis were becoming part of the process (with some reservations and rightly so).

  • gb says:

    Hey Bill I can’t wait to get my hands on this. Fallujah is right there with Iwo, Guadalcanal, and Hue IMHO as a battle Icon of Marines slugging it out and smashing the enemy.

  • mike merlo says:

    Its about time. It would be most welcomed if TLWJ could find some time to take their accumulated data & have it organized & ‘condensed’ into something other content specific ‘offerings.’ I will be sure to swipe as many of Ardolino’s book as I possibly can. Thanks Bill

  • wallbangr says:

    Congrats on your publication, Mr. Ardolino. Can’t wait to read this.

  • AndyFMF says:

    #1. Definitely buying and recommending this book. Thank you for donating proceeds to Semper Fi.
    #2. I wish that the requests for MOABs would have been authorized so 24 of our Marines could have come home to families.

  • Knighthawk says:

    Fantastic, looking forward to it’s arrival.


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