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Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War Paperback – June 14, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Initially I was skeptical of this book; the title is a bit off-putting (that was before I learned that it refers to one of world's oldest logic problems; and has ample applications to all involved in the so-called war on terror). And then it was written by a journalist, a woman at that, who was unfamiliar with war when she started. Enough reasons for some justified unease. Fortunately a good friend recommended it; he even wanted to check out the validity of certain portions of the book, those on Saudi Arabia, with me. And so when it popped up on my Vine Newsletter, I had to say: "Yes, please." The best decision I made the entire week.
Megan K. Stack is a remarkable person. She had been in Paris on September 11, 2001; soon thereafter she was on the Afghanistan - Pakistan frontier, reporting on the hunt for Bin Laden. She appears to have come to the so-called "War on Terror" unencumbered by theoretical models of the Islamic world formulated in America's various think-tanks and university "Middle East Studies Centers." She espoused none of the theories of the fictional "York Harding," as described in Graham Greene's The Quiet American (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition). Her assignments thereafter carry her to Israel, Iraq, Libya, "Kurdistan," Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt. When she gets "shut out," meaning that she really cannot cut through the government-imposed barriers on journalists, like in the Yemen, she says so.Read more ›
The value of the book lies not in its analysis. For Stack, the War on Terror defies analysis; indeed, it defies comprehension. In her Prologue, she writes:
"Only after covering it for years did I understand that the war on terror never really existed. It was not a real thing. Not that the war on terror was flawed, not that it was cynical or self-defeating, or likely to breed more resentment and violence. But that it was hollow, it was essentially nothing but a unifying myth for a complicated scramble of mixed impulses and social theories and night terrors and cruelty and business interests * * *."
So don't look to this book for calm, measured analysis. Its value, instead, is its anecdotal eyewitness reports of sundry events whose only cohesion is as a relentless parade of madness and mayhem. The book is episodic, so that the overarching picture, to the extent there is one, is in the nature of a surrealistic mosaic, perhaps a 21st Century version of Peter Bruegel's painting in the Prado, "The Triumph of Death".
Stack's writing is decent, but not always graceful. Too many of her metaphors are awkward. ("A plane lumbered overhead, slicing white blood from a bright winter sky.Read more ›
Mr Rumsfeld once said with admirable clarity that policy analysis had to be based on the known knowns and the known unknowns. There are known to be unknown unknowns, but apart from knowing that much, we can't in the nature of the case feature these in our decisions. Fair enough, but knowing is one thing, and understanding is something else entirely. There are ways of failing to understand plain facts that are looking us in the eye, and they stem from prejudice, patriotism and preconception. There is also often a challenge in trying to make sense of the plain facts, and that, similarly, requires a mind that is not pre-programmed. Megan Stack has the right kind of mind, and at the very beginning and near the end of her book she summarises one of her overall conclusions. The version of this in her prologue is, perhaps, slightly startling. Says she `the war on terror never really existed. It was not a real thing...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ms. Stack has an impressive vocabulary and is quite blunt in her realistic descriptions of her experiences---I appreciated that does of reality and am in awe of someone who could... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Wendy A. Naylor
The purpose of this book is difficult to comprehend with any thread of an interesting narrative lost in a flowery elaborate prose lacking eloquence which very quickly becoming... Read morePublished 12 months ago by RR
Megan Stack puts into memorable prose what no statistic can convey about Iraq, Lebanon, the occupied territories and Afghanistan. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Barrie-John Murphy
Two books would have been better - one with the stark realities and one with the eloquent description of scenery.Published 17 months ago by Sarma T
Los Angeles Time journalist Megan Stack shares her perspectives from reporting on conflict in the Middle East since 9/11. Read morePublished on February 13, 2014 by T Newman
Graphic and wrenching portrayal of war reporting. Poses hard questions with no real answer. Prose is richly metaphoric -- at times a bit self consciously so it can be an exhausting... Read morePublished on January 12, 2014 by Accessory Lover
The storyline is an eye opener to what is happening in the world but unfortunately the style of writing did not work for me.Published on August 13, 2013 by myra foley