From Publishers Weekly
Soon after bombs began falling on Baghdad, Newsday reporter McAllester was seized by agents from Saddam Hussein's security service and taken to the most feared place in Iraq: Abu Ghraib prison. McAllester was stripped, interrogated, given a pair of filthy pajamas and left alone in a tiny cell to agonize about his fate. Eight days later, with as little explanation as he received upon his arrest, McAllester was taken to the Jordanian border and released. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Iraq to try to get some answers. A riveting account of one man's frightening ordeal, this book is also an indictment of decades of oppression by Iraq's fallen dictator. McAllester examines Abu Ghraib's history (the prison was designed by an American company), interviews some of its victims (including a U.S. citizen imprisoned unjustly for seven years) and catalogues its horrors (torture, rape and execution). In one of the book's most affecting episodes, McAllester tracks down his own interrogator at Abu Ghraib, the man who decided whether he would live or die. McAllester admits he betrayed his Iraqi driver under questioning (it was "a calculated risk, ringed with cowardice"); he also acknowledges that journalists during Saddam's rule were tainted by collaborating with the regime (it was a "dirty, self-compromising process," he writes). He is similarly blunt in his assessment of the postwar occupation, which, he says, is undermined by poor planning and a lack of understanding of the Iraqi people. A Pulitzer-winning reporter with experience in numerous international hotspots, McAllester has produced a fascinating look at life in one of the most repressive regimes on earth. 16 pages of color photos not seen by PW.
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Using his brief incarceration in an Iraqi prison as a focal point, a journalist narrates a harrowing first-person account of life in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Held for eight days on suspicion of being an American spy, McAllester returned to Iraq after the collapse of Saddam's regime to search for his captors. Together with his own personal recollections of his imprisonment, he interweaves the larger story of a nation held in a different type of captivity for more than two decades. As McAllester struggled to cope with the trauma of his ordeal and unexpected release, so too did an Iraqi people suddenly liberated by the swift collapse of Hussein's brutal dictatorship. Linking one man's search for answers with a nation's struggle for identity, this reflective chronicle is certain to be an immediate best-seller. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved