From Publishers Weekly
What do you get when you mix a couple of booze-guzzling, Valium-addled, 20-something slackers from urban America with centuries-old sectarian hatred and a dubious war? Well, you get this alternately lame, alternately compelling tale from the first year after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. At loose ends, T-shirt merchants (selling "Yankees suck" at Fenway) Lemoine and Neumann decide to head out to Iraq by way of Israel. Having passed on an opportunity to go to Baghdad earlier in the war—"During Iraq's looting, the thought of loading up a stolen Lamborghini with Persian rugs and Baathist booty had crossed our minds. Stupid, I know"—these scalawags quickly find themselves in the middle of the Green Zone in Baghdad, scamming their way into jobs managing an NGO, dodging angry mobs in Sadr City and partying with just about everybody in town. Along with the boozing ("Jeff and I awoke at the NPR house with searing hangovers from a night of booze and pills"), there's a lot of name-dropping (among many others, Jon Lee Anderson of the New Yorker
). Not entirely without merit, the book does capture a sense of the madness of postwar Iraq. (Aug.)
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LeMoine and Jeff Neuman had it easy; instead of finishing college, they spent the summer months selling "Yankees Suck" -T-shirts outside Fenway Park and spent the rest of the year traveling the world. But when their beloved Red Sox lost the 2003 American League Championship to the Yankees in a do-or-die game-seven matchup, they decided not to go back to Boston and instead made the unlikely choice of traveling to Israel and then right into Baghdad, ground zero of the Iraq War. Going to Iraq with the intention of providing humanitarian aid in a war they did not support, they ended up working as volunteers for Paul Beemer's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the agency that was supposed to provide interim command and support prior to establishing the new Iraqi government. The boys' position of being both outsiders and insiders provides a unique perspective on the war that is miles away from anything found through the "normal" news channels. It is a complex, harrowing, frustrating, and heartbreaking account of the American occupation in Iraq. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved