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A Soldier’s Dream: Captain Travis Patriquin and the Awakening of Iraq

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March 31, 2011

Program Locations:

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium

Did one young American soldier help change the course of Iraq War?  For six months in 2006, a charismatic U.S. Army captain and Arabic linguist named Travis Patriquin unleashed a diplomatic and cultural charm offensive upon the Sunni sheiks of Anbar province, the heart of darkness of the Iraqi insurgency. Through his striking personality and passion for Iraqi culture and Islamic history, combined with U.S. military firepower, he and his colleagues galvanized American support for "The Awakening,” a tribal revolt against Al Qaeda that spread across Iraq, one of the great turning points of the war.

William Doyle’s book A SOLDIER’S DREAM will be published by Penguin-NAL on June 7, 2011. It is based on thousands of pages of declassified military documents and interviews with hundreds of Iraqis and American soldiers, marines and intelligence operatives, and on Patriquin’s own writings. It is one of the most inspiring stories to emerge from the American experience in Iraq.

“He was an extraordinary man who played a very, very important role. He was my brother.”  Sheik Sattar Abu Risha, founder of the Awakening movement of Iraq

“Travis grew to mythical stature among the tribes. He played a very decisive role when the tribes were attacked by Al Qaeda, and this is what caused all of Anbar province to flip over to our side. When he was killed and I talked to sheiks from all around Ramadi, east, west, north south, it didn’t matter, their eyes would all brim with tears whenever you mentioned his name. They just adored him.” Lt. Col. Sean MacFarland

“This guy was a 100% red-blooded American but he had a connection with the Iraqi people that was absolutely unique. There’s nobody in our army who could have developed the relationships that he developed.” Lt. Col. Pete Lee

“He was our T.E. Lawrence.” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

“My God, there is nobody in the world who connected more deeply with the Iraqi people than Travis. They adored him.” Atheer Agoubi, Baghdad-born interpreter

William Doyle is a Writer in Residence at the New York Public Library's Allen Room. He is author of An American Insurrection: James Meredith and the Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962, which won the 2002 American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award and American Library Association Alex Award, and was a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Finalist and a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. His previous book Inside the Oval Office: the White House Tapes from FDR to Clinton was a New York Times Notable Book and the basis of an A&E special that won Doyle the Writers Guild of America Award for Best TV Documentary. He has interviewed historical figures such as Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Gates and David Petraeus, and served as Director of Original Programming and Executive Producer for HBO.