by Michael Zacchea & Ted Kemp


"Written so ably...that it demands acknowledgment as a textbook, and should be required reading for every soldier activated and stationed in the Middle East."
Leatherneck Magazine


In 2004, Marine Corps Major Michael Zacchea led a group of Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds in a fight against the same men who years later would form ISIS.

What he learned about Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites, Americans and Middle Easterners, is more vitally important today than it has ever been before.

Now available in Paperback, eBook and Audiobook.

John Pruden, a US Army UH-60 Black Hawk Assault Helicopter Pilot, narrated the audiobook.

Mr. Pruden is an award-winning narrator who has narrated several bestselling books including American Sniper.

"An honest, revealing glimpse of the dangers inherent in acting on good intentions based on ignorance."
- Read More Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Authors

Lt. Col. Michael Zacchea  (USMC-ret.) led the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis of the Iraqi Fifth Battalion and their US advisers. He was awarded two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and Iraq’s Order of the Lion of Babylon. He has testified before a joint field session of the House and Senate Armed Forces Committee on the Iraqi military. He is an appointee to the Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs for the Small Business Administration.

He works as a veterans’ advocate with VoteVets and other veterans organizations, appearing widely as a public speaker; in the documentaries Thank You for Your Service (2016), Eleven: From WWII to the Present Day (2012), The Road to Fallujah (2008), and Odysseus in America (2005); and in the New York Times and on NPR, among others.

In 2006, Zacchea helped form a nonprofit organization to help Iraqi interpreters immigrate to the United States, which eventually became known nationally at The List Project. Zacchea is currently Director of the UConn Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities. He holds an MBA from the University of Connecticut, an MA from Hawaii Pacific University, and a BA from Notre Dame University. He lives in Connecticut.

Ted Kemp has worked as an editor, writer, and overseas correspondent, principally for CNBC. He has covered events ranging from maritime piracy in the Singapore Strait to the 2011 London riots, and has overseen writers working in Iraq, Iran, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.

Most recently, he conceived of and is a correspondent for the CNBC documentary, Oceans of Crime, on maritime slavery and illegal commercial fishing in Southeast Asia and Pacific.

Kemp holds an undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University and received his journalism degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a passionate reader and a former amateur boxer. He lives in New York.

Forward Author, Major General Paul Eaton (U.S. Army-ret.) commanded allied coalition training efforts in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. 

Eaton is a frequent contributor for various television outlets ranging from MSNBC to HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. Like Zacchea, he is active with VoteVets.org.


"Michael Zacchea and Ted Kemp have written a superb account of the efforts to build an Iraqi Army from scratch. This is a book rich in lessons and emotions. Every Commander-in-Chief contemplating intervention should read this." 

General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (ret.), Former Commander, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)


"Zacchea and Kemp have nailed it. They accurately captured the inspiration, joys, sorrows, and deep frustrations we had in standing up the New Iraqi Army and Special Police Forces in the early years of the Iraq War. This book is a great read for anyone struggling to understand what it was like on the ground, and it's also a fine primer for anyone preparing to advise foreign forces. Highly recommended."

Lt. General Jeff Buchanan, Commander of U.S. Army North, Former Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan


"A must-read for anyone who wants to understand what went wrong for the United States in Iraq — and whether we should put troops in Syria."

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Chief International Correspondent, CNBC

The Ragged Edge: Images from the book

This video is from our reading at the Barnes & Noble on 86th Street, NYC.

barnes and noble the ragged edge book signing.jpg.png


Michael Zacchea ,Chairman, Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs at SBA - Small Business Administration

Michael Zacchea,Chairman, Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs at SBA - Small Business Administration

Michael Zacchea is available to speak to your group or organization.

Topics include:

  • Business Startups & Entrepreneurship

  • Entrepreneurship Policy & Legislation
    Workforce re-entry and re-training Policy and Legislation

  • Entrepreneurship and Private Equity and Venture Capital Ecosystems

  • Data Collection, Management, Analysis, Synthesis, Production, and Planning

Contact us below for availability.


Use this form to contact Ted Kemp or Michael Zacchea for commentary or speaking opportunities.

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