From Publishers Weekly
Miller's collection of riveting, disheartening narratives chronicle the spendthrift methods of the coalition behind the Iraq invasion, featuring so many spurious entrepreneurs, opportunistic politicians and greedy contractors that it almost requires a pen and paper to keep track of them all. Beginning with the war itself, Miller demonstrates how the high hopes and genuine passion of those in the front lines paved the way for corruption, fraud and criminal negligence. Miller cites countless improbable, self-serving schemes, including Alaska Senator Ted Stevens's plan to get Iraq's cellular phone network built by Eskimos; the high-end children's hospital proposed and built by Bush family friends at the expense of Iraq's already-existing and badly in-need health facilities; and the work of Halliburton, whose unprecedented involvement makes for disturbing revelations: "From reveille to lights out, the American military depended on Halliburton for its existence." Miller's telling examples, covering everything from water and electricity restoration to security, health care and oil production, are at once depressing and compelling, and one gets the sense that Miller could've gone on ad infinitum relating unfinished and tarnished projects. Though Miller jumps from one sector of Iraq's infrastructure to another and shows little concern for chronology, the coalition's effort itself is too disorganized and the avaricious characters too plentiful to permit Miller to concoct a more unified and linear narrative. Despite this, Miller's important account fascinates throughout with the breadth and depth of the ongoing debacle.
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The U.S. has expended dollars and lives in Iraq with little positive to show for it, according to investigative reporter Miller in this searing account of how the Bush administration has mismanaged the Iraq war and reconstruction. Miller focuses on the bungling of government spending and private contracts, some $30 billion committed to rebuilding Iraq, a greater sum than for the Marshall Plan. Miller follows the "motley assortment of retired Republican operatives, U.S. businessmen and Iraqi exiles with dubious histories and doubtful motives" who have been engaged in the rebuilding efforts. Detailing the lack of planning, as well as the greed and incompetence of contractors, Miller highlights the myriad ways that the Iraq reconstruction has failed: a former Transportation Department secretary who was fired after he negotiated to sell the state airline to a company involved in the oil for food scandal; a New York police commissioner hired to train a new Iraq police force who left when it was disclosed that he had a mistress and connections with the Mafia. Among the botched projects was the reconstruction of a pipeline at a site that proved unstable, and numerous failures to restore basic services. Readers interested in understanding the political and economic dynamics behind the faltering campaign in Iraq will appreciate this investigation. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved