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Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield Hardcover – April 23, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. America's hand is exposed in this sprawling investigation of autonomous US military operations and the abuse of executive privilege that escalated global war. New York Times bestselling author Scahill (Blackwater) pulls no punches from right or left in his exposure of governments that passively authorized the use of torture in interrogation, marked an American citizen for death without due process, and empowered a military branch to conduct warfare on their terms, turning at least four countries into warzones. Interviews with U.S. army colonels, former CIA officers, Somali warlords, and a Yemeni sheik are only a few focal points in Scahill's narrative prism. Years of ground investigation are chronicled in stock terms, creating an accessible and shuddering effect: congress "asleep at the wheel;" an enemy of the state "on a collision course with history;" government officials who "cut their teeth" in the White House. Even in Scahill's most frustrated moments fact supplants editorial, adding valiancy and devastation to his brutal portrayals. (Apr.)

From Booklist

With the war on terrorism as subterfuge, the U.S. since the George W. Bush administration has embarked on a perpetual state of war, beyond borders, beyond the scrutiny of Congress, and beyond the codes of the Geneva Convention, according to Scahill, national security correspondent and author of the best-selling Blackwater (2007). He offers a disturbing look at the secret forces, including the military and private security contractors, carrying out missions to capture and kill enemies designated by the president. Scahill details several operations, including covert wars and the targeting of two U.S. citizens for assassination, as well as Greystone, a secret global assassination and kidnapping operation. Navy SEALs, Delta Force, the CIA, Joint Special Operations Command, ghost militias, and drone attacks all feature in chilling operations in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Pakistan. Drawing on interviews with mercenaries, CIA agents, and warriors in elite forces as well as those caught in the middle, Scahill examines the dark side of dirty wars, from the private pain of sufferers to the public cost in rising suspicion of the intentions of U.S. foreign policy. --Vanessa Bush
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 680 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; First Edition edition (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156858671X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586717
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (391 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

222 of 239 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Goldberg on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Dirty Wars" has a somewhat different tone that Scahil's book on Blackwater. It is a rigorous history of un-declared and largely un-reported violence in many countries around the world by various parts of the United States government since Sept 11th. There is,as one might expect, a sub-text of great alarm about the deterioration of American legal standards and a profound concern about the effects of killing of thousands of people, many of them children and others who died for having the bad luck to be near a US target. The concerns are both moral and strategic since it is not at all clear that the policies have not created far more terrorists than they have killed. But what is most striking about "Dirty Wars" is how thorough and careful it is as a work of history. There is no name calling there are no no knee-jerk left wing attitudes. There is an implicit empathy and respect for many in the military and intelligence communities who wouldn't be caught reading a copy of The Nation.It is a search for the truth in an arena that most of the media has ignored or failed to have the resolve to fully learn and analyze. It is primarily a recitation of facts which gives the book far more authority than a mere polemic and it will be a permanent part of the history of these times. Dirty Wars: The World Is A BattlefieldDirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield
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270 of 298 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Webb on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: I've become friends with Jeremy prior to this book coming out. I'm a fellow writer but also served over a decade in the Special Operations community. I'm not another journalist or writer opining about something I don't know about, and I don't give fluff reviews just because a friend writes a book. My full in-depth review will come soon on SOFREP.

While I found Blackwater admittedly somewhat biased (a great read none-the-less), Dirty Wars is incredibly researched, and critical across the political divide.

Dirty Wars is chock full of incredible and insightful information that will leave most readers uncomfortably informed. I imagine reading this book will be kind of like the first Matrix movie where one of the characters comes to know what reality "is" but chooses to plug back into delusion because reality is too uncomfortable to deal with. This is the situation in America right now, and best we admit we have serious issues that require serious solutions.

Great work Jeremy.

Brandon, Former Navy SEAL and Editor of SOFREP
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168 of 186 people found the following review helpful By David Swanson on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, has a new book that should be required reading for Congress members, journalists, war supporters, war opponents, Americans, non-Americans -- really, pretty much everybody. The new book is called Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.

Of course, Scahill is not suggesting that the world should be a battlefield. He's reporting on how the Bush and Obama White Houses have defined and treated it as such.

The phrase "dirty wars" is a little less clear in meaning. Scahill is a reporter whose chronological narrative is gripping and revealing but virtually commentary-free. Any observations on the facts related tend to come in the form of quotations from experts and those involved. So, there isn't anywhere in the book that explicitly explains what a dirty war is.

The focus of the book is on operations that were once more secretive than they are today: kidnapping, rendition, secret-imprisonment, torture, and assassination. "This is a story," reads the first sentence of the book, "about how the United States came to embrace assassination as a central part of its national security policy." It's a story about special, elite, and mercenary forces operating under even less Congressional or public oversight than the rest of the U.S. military, a story about the Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA, and not about the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad or the activities of tens of thousands of soldiers occupying Iraq or Afghanistan.

The type of war recounted is variously identified in the book as dirty, dark, black, dark-side, small, covert, black-ops, asymmetric, secret, twilight, and -- in quotation marks -- "smart.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jockular on May 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the last 24 hours, the beheading of a UK soldier in London, Obama's speech on policy re drones/special ops./perpetual global warfare, AND I've read a good chunk of "Dirty Wars". The 3rd has made the first 2 much more understandable.

In Obama's speeches, there's a curious tone of "If I ran this place, things would be different." Well, he DOES run this place, or should! He's not paid to bemoan problems, but to tackle and solve them. Why is he only today - well into the 5th year of his presidency - talking about reigning in use of drones,special ops, and the global reach of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) way beyond established battlefields?

And why is Obama going public on these issues now, after months of stonewalling? Is the constitutional lawyer in Obama being reborn - long after the extra-judicial drone-murder in Yemen of US citizens Anwar Awlaki and his 15 year old son? murder in untold countries of foreigners merely suspected of supporting or harboring "terrorists"? (Before you reject what I am saying, read Scahill's account of Awlaki's behavior. It doesn't match what Obama said today.)

Scahill's book convinces me that Obama DOESN'T run things, can't control what JSOC does with its $8 billion annual secret budget, and with "cover" from who knows where in the Pentagon. While Obama's speech suggests presidential approval of each and every operation, Scahill tells a different story -- based on many interviews with officers who built and worked in the special ops world which Cheney, Rumsfeld and their neo-cons have fashioned.

Read Brandon Webb's 5 star review (here on Amazon)of this book. Webb was a member of Seal Team 3, and wrote the EXCELLENT account "The Red Circle" of his service as a SEAL and then as a sniper trainer.
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