The General's Book Club: What's Petraeus Reading?


I love spotting books in the background of photos, and here's today's mystery. I've spent a fair amount of time tracking the reading habits of candidate and president Obama, and we've seen some of his favorites get a boost into our top 100. But he's not the only member of the government who can sell a book. I'm not sure if General David Petraeus, the cerebral CentCom commander, has released any reading lists, but no doubt his influence (or at least his example) has helped a book like The Accidental Guerrilla, by his Australian advisor David Kilcullen, become an unlikely bestseller on Amazon. So my question for today, based on this AFP/Getty photograph of the general at this week's Marine counterinsurgency conference, which I came across on Tom Ricks's Best Defense blog: what book does he have on the table next to him? The title clearly is "Wildcat", but I can't decipher the author name. I thought my Amazon search skills were pretty good, but I can't find a book that matches the cover. (This is the closest I came.) I'm guessing the subtitle is not "The Joe B. Hall Story."

Anybody better versed in the subject, or in data extraction, who can help me out? --Tom


Update: In the comments, Lauren solved the puzzle with better sleuthing skills than mine--thanks! And the answer is even more interesting than I'd hoped: the book is Wildcat: Irak 1991/2003 : Carnets de guerre d'un journaliste rebelle by the Belgian soldier-turned-war correspondent Yves Debay. It's not available on or, but we do have it on I'm not sure if he was reading the book or was given it at the conference, but to be reading a book by a "rebel journalist"--in the original French--certainly would be consistent with the Petraeus mystique...

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Comments (7)

Please maintain writing!
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Posted by: Monster Energy Hats | Thursday December 15, 2011 at 1:00 AM

Dead giveaway: the title on the spine reads from bottom to top. In English it's the opposite. F

Posted by: F | Saturday September 26, 2009 at 6:29 PM

General Petraeus also read "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright -- details here.

Posted by: McClatchy Watch | Saturday September 26, 2009 at 4:52 PM

Wildcat (Wildcat) is the name given by the U.S. Army to war correspondents who followed unlicensed military operations during the Gulf War of 2003.

The journalists and photographers "unconventional" took serious risks on both sides to cover this war.

Yves Debay is one of those "old hand" who has the advantage of knowing very much about his (former military nearly 30 years of experience) and have covered both conflicts. He gives us his diary of events and his vision of "field" of a conflict still not known to the general public today.

Beyond anecdotes, you will discover people, civilians and soldiers on both sides, their relations with foreign journalists and sometimes surprising relationships correspondents of the international press, specialist or not, between them ...

Read with pleasure.

Posted by: achat jeu pc | Saturday September 26, 2009 at 12:18 AM

Fabulous--excellent research, Lauren. Thanks!

Posted by: Tom | Friday September 25, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Here's a cover image:

Posted by: Lauren | Friday September 25, 2009 at 12:59 PM

definitely "Wildcat" by Yves Debay.
Apparently the good general speaks French.
(thanks for giving my librarian sleuthing skills a workout!)

Posted by: Lauren | Friday September 25, 2009 at 12:57 PM

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