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Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq Hardcover – November 17, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tariq Ali is a novelist, essayist, and BBC commentator who was among the best-known radical student leaders in late 1960s Britain. One of the ways he distinguishes himself from his anti-war contemporaries is via prodigious and multidisciplinary cultural knowledge; he once collaborated with avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman on a film about the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, for instance. Bush in Babylon benefits greatly from such knowledge. The book is essentially a harsh critique of the way the Bush administration has dealt with Iraq in the wake of 9-11, referred to as "corporate looting." The most captivating chapter centers on the history of Iraqi resistance as exemplified in poetry made by Iraqis in exile. Ali translates important contemporary works by poets who left during Hussein's regime but are still denied entry back into Iraq by Coalition forces. These are works that have traveled from the Internet to the oral tradition, to become instant spoken-word hits, and they provide a fascinating glimpse into the Iraqi situation that one cannot simply find in a daily newspaper in the West or on CNN. Ali's biggest fault is an undisguised disgust for the "imperialist" United States government. When he lists the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alongside those in Vietnam with no discussion of the difference between the two events, he alienates many potential fans of his important work. Bush in Babylon has a lot going for it, despite a polemical tone which invariably grates as one marches through this smart, well-researched book. --Mike McGonigal

From Publishers Weekly

London-based writer and filmmaker Ali has followed his careful and elaborate study of Islam and imperialism, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, with this short and quick response to the 2003 Iraq war. This time around, he delivers a plaintive, choppy rant instead of an organized, thorough analysis. Appalled by Western (he calls it Northern) arrogance, he begins by condemning local collaborators and praising the "purity and moral integrity" of poets and children (who taunt the occupiers). After two chapters of this high-handedness, he rapidly shifts his focus away from the social and cultural and launches into a political history of modern Iraq. Starting with the post-WWI British occupation and ending with the current U.S.-British occupation, he contends that the era between these official occupations was an interruption of the natural expansion of the capitalist order by the very real threat of a global Communist revolution. The countries of the South might not have been physically occupied by the rival Northern powers, but they were patronized, infiltrated and manipulated. The current conquest of Iraq, Ali concludes, is "part of a long historical process that was disrupted by the twentieth century and is now back on course." What disrupted the process was the Cold War, and now that the Soviet Union is gone, there is no serious obstacle-other than indigenous resistance-in the path of colonial capitalism. Ali's summary of history from inside the radical Arab left-he gives extended attention to 1958, the peak of popularity for the Iraqi Communist Party-is intended as "a warning to both occupier and resister" that the current course of history is toward more violence and inequality.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (November 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859845835
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859845837
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,044,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Bill Higgins on November 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A must reading for all who wish to know more about Iraq's "real" history and how it reflects on the current "slog". However, those who already "know the facts" spoken by King George and his merry men and women will find Tariq's facts as another leftist's view.
I would hope many people read this book and carefully see where we went wrong but more importantly than confirming our worst fears that we have been lied to by a lot of so-called leaders. It is all about oil and money as it has been with the British before and now the US. The answers are needed but my concern is who besides a few authors are laying out facts. Is there anyone who really cares about what is going on to demand some accountability?? The opposition candidates are into saying the "right thing" but they are only interested in how it will affect their polls.
I would suggest if more people knew more of the real truths about what has gone on with Iraq in the last 30 years and not just what they "heard on TV", we would be demanding action. There is still time and it takes one person to urge another and before you know it we might get the 8 million world-wide who marched against the war to go to the streets again!
Reading Bush in Babylon would be a great first step in understanding some plain truths without Bush's spin!
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39 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I heard Mr. Ali on a radio program recently defending his book against criticism _from the left_. Cogent, well-reasoned, and engaging arguments deflated the weak-willed neoliberal, interventionist callers. Ali shows in this book how America's newest colonial venture, while not exactly identical with nineteenth-century empire building, operates on a similar plane. The new name of the game is _economic_ imperalism, foisted upon Iraq, Afghanistan, and anyone else who dares to disagree with the free market. Ali skewers critics who suggest that soldiers must remain in Iraq for the indefinite future; he does so not with rhetoric or opinion, but with history and clearly-comprehended fact.
Now, do _you_ disagree with what Mr. Ali says? _Read_ his book and come up with logical arguments to refute the facts presented therein. _Far_ from a member of the "loony left" (as one of the ignorant "reviewers" here at amazon.com called Ali), the author is well-reasoned, measured, and unstinting in his exposing of the falsehood of the "New World Order", the free market, and its adherents on the political left _and_ right.
Finally, don't be scared away by the amazon.com editorial review, which faults the book for actually daring to stick to its arguments and not flinch in the face of political correctness. Only in a "democracy" as deeply decayed and corrupted as the US can speaking one's mind truthfully, forcefully, and in a language designed to excite public attention actually be considered a negative.
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42 of 54 people found the following review helpful By mehnaz m. afridi on November 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Tariq Ali's book is full of historical and needed reconstruction of Iraq and it's history in a multifacetted manner that can be illuminating and overwhelming. The book is much needed and takes the reader into an analysis of a history that ocurred much before Saddam Hussein and the present---this is a superb manner of perceiving Iraqi history and emphasizes Iraqi Intellengentzia. I applaud Tariq Ale for his effort and unbiased analysis of Iraq, the title is misleading in terms of a political twist but is gripping!
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Tariq Ali's book is fascinating. I had to put it down a few times just to digest all of the information. My views of Iraq have completely changed as I read about it's secular beginnings. He details the history of Iraq from it's communist beginnings to the unfortunate rise of Ssddam Hussein. It is very unfortunate that the Western media piants all Arab countries as religious dictatorships. Iraq is exactly the opposite. The Iraqi poetry is exceptional and I would brush up on communist thought before reading. It simplifies some of ideological movements that came out of Iraq. Wait until you read about the Iraqi Che Guevara.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bahadar Khan on July 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is amazing to read reviews after reading the book. I like books from Tariq Ali, because of two reasons. Firstly, his writing is crisp and prose is enchanting and secondly he does research very well on what he plans to write. The reviews here provided are mostly very biased and doesn't encompass any logical or intellectual landscape. This is unfortunate if we altogether reject somebody's thoughts because he/she doesn't think the way as somebody else wants him to think. This is another type of fundametalism and Ali aptly dealt with this topic in his another book "Clash of Fundamentalisms". As Bill Clinton writes in his book --My Life-- "What might prove a fun game for powerful may cause humiliation to the weak". This is best depicted in US-UK invasion to Iraq. Regime changed--People killed ( Did they ask anybody to come and kill them ?). What is the point, why no body now talks of Weapon of mass Destruction rather it is very conveniently forgotten. Now how can we justify a war where the intelligence has been proved as flawed. Who cares about Saddam ?? No body...No eye had any tears for him when he was de-throned. He was a murderer but what happened next ? How can we justify two wrongs as one right. Was this a small fun for 'Strong'? Why don't we think.. The media is always with the powerful...all the information flow is from West to East and what Western media says is true, that is absolute truth and any dissenting voice is just a ridicule. Pity. Now over here, everybody is looking at this book from a strong partisan and forgive me but from religous approach too. The US based reviews are correct from their point of view because this is what has been told to them through media 24x7. Where else one should get the information except through available means ..Read more ›
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