The retired military friend who recommended Ghost Wars also suggested Iraq: Policy and Perceptions by Richard J. Schmierer as a good primer on Iraq. The author is a member of the Senior Foreign Service with extensive experience in public diplomacy in the Middle East. The book offered a wide survey of the issues related to Iraq and our war there. Schmierer also writes about the changes in the political environment with the rise of the non-state players (terrorists) and the effects of the Information Age on Middle Eastern society. One of the early chapters also has a lot of recommendations in it for other books on Iraq, broken down with descriptions of good military books, good human interest books, good political books, etc.
Overall, it was an easy book to read with a lot of helpful information, written in a pleasant, serious style. It was a good primer. If you’re interested in starting to read about Iraq, I agree with my friend that you should track down a copy of this book.
P.S. Pearse and Catherine (wherever you are), thanks for serving in Iraq.