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Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey Through Iraq Hardcover – June 5, 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Written with bestselling military writer Allen Mikaelian, this is a developed version of a story widely available in the media and on the Internet. Lagouranis became a central figure to Iraq war opponents by describing his role as an army interrogator at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Official policy may have stressed observing the Geneva Conventions, but in the field and out of sight, he says, the policy rapidly became "anything goes." "Fear up harsh" in principle meant verbally intimidating a prisoner, but came to include sleep deprivation, induced hypothermia and binding, with all levels of command complicit. Convinced such methods did not work and disturbed by his own behavior, Lagouranis felt "the feeble voice of my deeply suppressed morality trying to be heard." Increasingly identifying with prisoners, he began interpreting the war as corrupting and brutalizing of the institutions and individuals involved. On returning to the U.S., Lagouranis had intensifying stress reactions that prompted him to go public about the way the war had led him to "discover and indulge my own evil." To date, his moving account has been accepted rather than investigated [...] (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A brave, forthright and much needed account of the often-ignored tragedies beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib." -Rory Kennedy, Director/Producer, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib "A must read...Compelling, profound, important and terrifying." -John D. Huston, RADM, JAGC, USN (ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy (1997-2000)
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Hardcover; 1 edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451221125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451221124
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,243,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was lucky enough to have seen Tony when he spoke on June 6th. I had also heard him on the Diane Rehm show the day before.

I know plenty of people will disagree with Tony's perception of what constitutes "torture." But don't be fooled by the usual rhetoric of 'I saw worse fraternity initiations" or "they cut off heads and that is REAL torture." Regarding the Geneva Conventions, there is a difference between "violation" and "grave breach." As an example I saw when I went to see Dr. Gary Solis (a Viet vet and retired colonel), if you slap somebody that is assault; if you punch them in the mouth that is assault too. The difference is severity, which would be reflected in the punishment.

Tony details how he went to the Defense Language Institute in order to learn Arabic, which was all pre-9/11. He was sent to AIT for training as an interrogator. As he stated today, he could not be signals intercept due to the fact he had outstanding student loans and would not qualify for the necessary Top Secret clearance.

His training as an interrogator stressed the Geneva Conventions and what they could and could not do. When he got to Iraq, however, all that went out the window. There were different new rules written for interrogators in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo. Putting prisoners in stress positions and inducing hypothermia were deemed illegal during his training, but now they were informed that that did not now consitute "torture," and anything up to organ failure was okay.

Tony details how soldiers acted differently in his different assignments. He stated that at Mosul interrogators got ideas from watching movies, which was all nonsense. When he got to Abu Ghraib, the scandal had already hit and things were changed.
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2 Comments 35 of 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I thought he book read fantasiclly!! Though I do not share many of the views of the author, that doesn't mean the book deserves one star. The book was very well written and I found it incredibily engaging. It is a deeply personal look into the mind of one interagator. I felt the author was extremely forthcoming and truthful about his feelings and percieved failures as a soldier and as a person.

To the other military members who have reviewed this book (unfairly I believe), none of us stood in this authors exact shoes. Even if we did, everyone who has served in combat knows that it affects everyone in the unit differently. Some guys it doesn't bother, some get jumpy, some have nightmares and some mentally break and kill themselves. Just because he writes a book that doesn't toe the company line doesn't mean that his opinions and experiences are invalid.
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Format: Hardcover
I heard Tony Lagouranis on the Alan Colmes Show last night. He's an incredibly courageous and well-spoken person. I was so impressed, I immediately ordered his book, as did many others judging from the way it shot up on the Amazon ranking overnight.

Obviously, I haven't yet read the book, but from what I gathered during the Colmes interview (which was challenging, yet respectful), this book is a must read. Surprisingly, all the people who called in to speak with Lagouranis thanked him for his effort. Usually, Colmes has an army of those who have been "Hannitized" ready to call in and harangue Alan or other people who dare to question elite corporatism and militarism. They had nothing to say to Tony. Alan himself was so struck by what Tony said, that he was talking about the issue long after his guest had left the studio.

People can also find Lagouranis in the excellent docementary on US torture Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

"Every government explains its existence and justifies all its violence on the ground that if it were not there, things would be worse. Having convinced the people that they are in danger, the governments dominate them. And when peoples are dominated by governments, the latter compel them to attack each other. And in this way, a belief in the governments' assurance of the danger of attacks by other nations is confirmed among the peoples.

Divide and conquer." -Leo Tolstoy, "Christianity and Patriotism"
1 Comment 19 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This is a searing memoir, the story of one man's struggle to retain his humanity and sanity in the midst of the often irrational circumstances of the US/Iraq War.

Lagouranis, an educated enlistee turned Army interrogator, has a unique take on the US failure to understand the Iraqi population. Lagouranis is no cut-and-run liberal - he's a thoughtful narrator and an informed gide through the quagmire that is Iraq.
1 Comment 18 of 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By Q1A on September 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was an Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq in 2003. I can vouch for much of the author details in his book since it was pretty much the same for me. I saw some signs of abuse, but for me the real tragedy and scandal is the degree with which we detained so many thousands of Iraqis for no good reason, then kept them detained for weeks and months. Families were left unprotected, destitute, and often not knowing the fate of their husbands and fathers for weeks or months. Lagournis struggled with morality and legality questions of what he participated in. I'm not going to pass judgement, but I will say that I'm surprised that Lagournis could keep interrogating like each new detainee might be a terrorist or knew something. I didn't. I assumed that my guys were just bodies grabbed by our military often for no other reason than their neighbors with old grudges wanted to see them run off to detention and so made a simple accusation against old enemies. Other times our military just grabbed bodies during raids so to pad the numbers of "suspected terrorists" that they could write on their after action reports and put in their own evaluation reports.

The book reads well, but it seems disjointed with frequent forays into Lagorunis' morality plays and liberal political opinions. Some of his thoughts on morality is thoughtful and intelligent, but he's losing reader sympathy with his political opining. I'm not a liberal (far from it), but if I respect Lagournis for making it through his awful tour and writing about it.
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