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A Bloody Business: America's War Zone Contractors and the Occupation of Iraq Hardcover – May 1, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Retired army colonel Schumacher polishes the public image of private wartime contractors in this informative if relentlessly glowing account of these "unrecognized and unappreciated patriots" in Iraq and Kuwait. Schumacher gained access to employees from contracting firms MPRI and Crescent Security, and his perspective is one of deep affection and respect—for people who put themselves in harm's way to provide security for diplomats, to move convoys of precious materials and to rebuild the broken infrastructure of war-torn countries. Describing the day-to-day operations of the trucking, training and security contractors he interviewed in Kuwait and Iraq, Schumacher argues that they don't work for the money (MPRI workers' pay comes to under $20 an hour) but out of a sense of adventure, patriotism and expertise. The author's voice is unpretentious but swaggering, tough but sentimental; he's as critical of the Bush administration for its ill-conceived strategies as of the media for what he considers prejudice. There's not much in the way of subtle policy debate or comprehensive analysis ("Department of Defense outsourcing to civilian contractors is an efficient, short-term solution"), but Schumacher writes with a keen sense of justice and empathy as he recounts the harrowing tales of these contractors-for-hire. Color photos. (May)
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Review

Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2006

“Retired army colonel Schumacher polishes the public image of private wartime contractors in this informative, if relentlessly glowing, account of these ‘unrecognized and unappreciated patriots’ in Iraq and Kuwait. Schumacher gained access to employees from contracting firms MPRI and Crescent Security, and his perspective is one of deep affection and respect – for people who put themselves in harm's way to provide security for diplomats, to move convoys of precious materials and to rebuild the broken infrastructure of war-torn countries. The author's voice is unpretentious but swaggering, tough but sentimental; he's as critical of the Bush administration for its ill-conceived strategies as of the media for what he considers prejudice. There's not much in the way of subtle policy debate or comprehensive analysis (‘Department of Defense outsourcing to civilian contractors is an efficient, short-term solution’), but Schumacher writes with a keen sense of justice and empathy as he recounts the harrowing tales of these contractors-for-hire.”



Military Book Club, April 2006

“It’s impossible to fully comprehend the future of warfare without a complete understanding of the role war-zone contractors will play. Iraq, the testing ground for the privatization of our military, is teeming with contractors today, whose efforts will determine the future of military privatization. A Bloody Business is, in our estimation, the most informative book on the subject today. Inside, you’ll read story after story of insurgent ambushes and exploding IEDs in a land where life as a truck driver can be as dangerous as that of a soldier.”



U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, August 2006

“A Bloody Business provides insight to the selection and training regimes for contractors in Iraq. It then goes on to relate many personal accounts of their work and combat action in that war-torn country. Colonel Schumacher underscores the dangers of ‘uncontrolled contracting.’ At the same time, he closes with the common-sense view that, while U.S. soldiers will be respected for their service in Iraq, ‘American civilian contractors deserve nothing less.’”

California Bookwatch, July 2006
 “A Bloody Business tells of a new kind of American army overseas: one which is a private mercenary-run establishments which takes over as the U.S. military shrinks. The lives of such men and women who work in Iraq are controlled by few laws or regulations: they must rely on instinct and their own codes of conduct. Civilian contractors in Iraq number some fifteen thousand: their experiences and daily lives, recounted here, are riveting testimonies to their duties and hardships.”

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; First edition (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760323550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760323557
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,312,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By MountainRunner on July 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
An element of private military companies is the rediscovered opportunity to join "the fight" without joining a public military organization. Reasons for taking the private route include being too old, too unfit, short-term goals (i.e. quick money, <1yr commitment, the experience, etc), flexibility of choice, or any number of other reasons. The fact is private military companies providing security, logistics, and other services in and around the modern battlespace is re-democratizing war.

Looking at the private military industry operating in Iraq, Colonel Schumacher reviews many of its varied components beyond the almost cliche private security details (the shooters). From construction to trucking to training and even the security contractors, the author profiles elements of the private military industry as under-appreciated, undervalued, and, in many of his examples, highly patriotic.

This is a book heavy on cheerleading for the private contractors as individuals without spending too much time on the question of the appropriateness of the industry. These men and women do not get the same insurance, logistic support, fire support, medical support, or equipment the public armed forces receive. In return, they get the opportunity to serve at their leisure, higher pay, and little recognition. This book attempts to correct the latter as "[n]either a glorification nor a cheap shot-riddled exposé", as the back of the dust cover describes it.

Indeed, most of the reviews on Amazon and other sites echo this sentiment: "...the incredible amount of dangers they face, often times it is more than money which motivates them.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. G. Reitz on February 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Schumacher's book is an easy yet engrossing read. He devotes time to various types of contractors (e.g. truckers). Good to get the perspective of non-shooters, but I wish he would have gone further into engineers, etc. at risk in-country. Minor points aside, he makes the case for WHY we need contractors, and he strips the shine off the "$1,000 per day" myth. His depictions are grimy, and real. If you're reading about Iraq, and questioning the seemingly impossible task of reconstruction, you must read this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wieber on March 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Gerry Schumacher brings the gritty world of security contractors into focus in this very informative book. War stories from actual contractors, re-told from the vantage point of a battle seasoned veteran. Plus, the experiences of a retired soldier who was in Iraq, met the people, and ran some of the missions. If you are looking for a political agenda, this is not your book:) If you are looking for a window into life in Iraq, this is an excellent collection of stories that changed my view about contractors and about what life in Iraq is like outside the spin zone.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Travis B. Johnson on May 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I honestly could not put this book down, i'm in the middle of about four different books but saw this one and could not say no and was finished with it in two days. As a man who has been there and seen those things, i always envied and admired the private contractors over there and might possibly seek employment in that sort of job. The book is excellent, exploring everything from some of the controversies and concerns of PMC's, what it takes to get with a PMC, what you can expect being a PMC, and thats only the first third of the book, the personal stories about the truck drivers, trainers, and security contractors is the heart and soul of the book and gives you a interesting and deep look into these men and women who still serve their country in another capacity and perform tasks that put less a burden on our already strained military, while making a nice profit for themselves, all in all a excellent book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard M. Kuntz on January 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While Jeremy Schall's book on Blackwater is very well reported and informative, it is infused with anti-contractor bias, whereas Schumacher's account allows for the necessity of contractors to the military to fill voids left by U.S. (and other Western countries') policy. Pelton's book, while it contains some anti-contractor bias, is exciting and the best of the lot in my view.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Thomas L. Degerstrom on July 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book. I was pleasantly surprised. I initially had a very negative view of military contractors, mostly due to the media bias in our country. The book spells out what type of contractors serve in Iraq and what I enjoyed the most, gives personal accounts of the contractors who serve. I am considering taking a position as an International Police Officer in Iraq and I found the personal accounts of the officers who served there quite compelling.

The author remains very politically neutral, unlike recent books I have read about this subject, and lets the reader decide how he or she feels about the involvement of "civilians" in the warzone. I only wish he could have dug a little deeper and gathered more personal accounts, but this is still a good read nevertheless.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By AKFLHXS on March 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Taking the book for what it is...one man's observations, it is an excellent book that allows you to grasp a better view of the contractors in Iraq.
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