Ghost Riders of Baghdad

Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge

Daniel A. Sjursen

From October 2006 to December 2007, Daniel A. Sjursen—then a U.S. Army lieutenant—led a light scout platoon across Baghdad. The experiences of Ghost Rider platoon provide a soldier’s-eye view of the incredible complexities of warfare, peacekeeping, and counterinsurgency in one of the world’s most ancient cities. Sjursen reflects broadly and critically on the prevailing narrative of the surge as savior of America’s longest war, on the overall military strategy in Iraq, and on U.S. relations with ordinary Iraqis. At a time when just a handful of U.S. senators and representatives have a family member in combat, Sjursen also writes movingly on questions of America’s patterns of national service. Who now serves and why? What connection does America’s professional army have to the broader society and culture? What is the price we pay for abandoning the model of the citizen soldier? With the bloody emergence of ISIS in 2014, Iraq and its beleaguered, battle-scarred people are again much in the news. Unlike other books on the U.S. war in Iraq, Ghost Riders of Baghdad is part battlefield chronicle, part critique of American military strategy and policy, and part appreciation of Iraq and its people. At once a military memoir, history, and cultural commentary, Ghost Riders of Bahdad delivers a compelling story and a deep appreciation of both those who serve and the civilians they strive to protect. Sjursen provides a riveting addition to our understanding of modern warfare and its human costs.

Cover Image of Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers
Cloth: $22.95 | E-book: $22.99
ISBN-13: 9781611687811
Pages: 290 | Size: 6.25 in. x 9.25 in.
Date Published: October 6, 2015


  • In this fascinating book, author Sjursen asks some searching questions which may leave some of the US commanders feeling uncomfortable.

    Books Monthly
  • Those interested in Operation Iraqi Freedom should read Sjursen’s contribution to our collective understanding of the war from a tactical perspective. Scholars will find Ghost Riders of Baghdad a useful companion to more scholarly works on the war in Iraq. Yet most importantly, educators should use the book as an example for other veterans to follow. The experiences of soldiers shed ample light on the murkier parts of history-the areas where rhetoric and strategy are not always congruent-which future historians cherish when deliberating over soldier motivations, memory, and so on.

  • Sjursen takes you on an intellectual thrill ride, with more than a few surprises. If you want political talking points or an army operations order, look elsewhere. There are no easy answers on the streets of Iraq. Think you know all about the famous ‘surge’? Guess again.

    Lucas Tomlinson
    producer, Fox News Channel
  • Ghost Riders of Baghdad is the best memoir to come out of the American wars in Southwest Asia. Sjursen’s honesty and passion bleed through every page and raise serious questions about the ‘victory’ in Iraq.

    Robert A. Doughty
    author of Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War

About the Author

MAJOR DANIEL A. SJURSEN was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. A 2005 graduate of West Point, he has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Kansas and is pursuing a doctorate in history while teaching at West Point.

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