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The Achilles Trap: Saddam Hussein, The C.I.A, and the Origins of America’s Invasion of Iraq


The Middle East Policy Forum and the Leadership, Ethics, and Practice Initiative at the Elliott School of International Affairs will host this conversation about Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steve Coll’s new book, The Achilles Trap:  Saddam Hussein, the C.I.A., and the Origins of America’s Invasion of Iraq.  Coll has written the definitive story of the decades-long relationship between the United States and Saddam Hussein.  It is a deeply researched and news-breaking investigation into how human error, cultural miscommunication, and hubris led to one of the costliest geopolitical conflicts of our time.


Coll will discuss his new book with Professor of International Affairs Christopher Kojm, who also directs the Leadership, Ethics and Practice Initiative.

The book talk is a hybrid event. You may register to attend in-person at 1957 E St NW, Room 505, Washington, DC, or virtually via Zoom.


This event is possible thanks to a gift from the ExxonMobil Corporation.

In-Person RSVP

Online RSVP


  • Steve Coll is the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ghost Wars and dean emeritus of the Columbia Journalism School, and from 2007 to 2013 was president of New America, a public policy institute in Washington, DC. He is an editor at The Economist in London, was a staff writer at The New Yorker for nearly two decades, and before that was a writer and editor at The Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990.

  • Christopher Kojm re-joined the School as a Professor of Practice in International Affairs after serving as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2009 to 2014. His government experience includes service as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1998-2003), and as deputy director of the 9/11 Commission (2003-04). He was also president of the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, the Commission’s follow-on public education organization (2004-05), and a Senior Advisor to the Iraq Study Group (2006).