In 2004, Sgrena, a reporter for a Communist paper in Italy covering the plight of war-torn Falluja, was kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents, held for a month and released safely-only to be fired upon by U.S. forces guarding the road to the airport. The well-publicized incident, which resulted in the death of high-ranking Italian intelligence official Major General Nicola Calipari, is recounted here with righteous anger by Sgrena, along with the ensuing cover-up by the U.S. military commission assigned to find out what went wrong. Sgrena begins each chapter with details of the kidnapping, followed by analysis of the situation in Iraq, based on her first-hand experience reporting there. She is unstinting in her criticism of the war's conduct, bringing a perspective that American readers-for all the polemical war commentary they've been subject to-will find fresh and intriguing, such as her sense that the U.S. intent in Iraq is to partition the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurd areas, and that steps towards this goal have already been taken. While Sgrena's sometimes strident tone may be off-putting for Americans (either she or translator Riva fail to distinguish between government and citizens in reference to "the Americans"), her book is a valuable insider's look at both the personal and political costs of the interminable Iraq conflict.
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Sgrena, an Italian journalist for Il Manifesto, was kidnapped in Iraq in February 2005, held for 28 days, and rescued by an Italian secret-service agent who was shot and killed by U.S. forces. In this absorbing account, she recalls her hostage experience as well as her coverage of the war in Iraq as a nonembedded reporter. She marked the days of imprisonment by tying knots in the fringe of a shawl, keeping track of time in the darkened, windowless room by the calls to prayer, fighting to remain hopeful. Her captivity evoked memories of covering the women subjugated to strict Islamic law. Before her kidnapping, Sgrena focused her coverage of the victims of war in Falluja, the town bombed by the U.S. military as a major center of resistance. Since her rescue, Sgrena remains haunted by anxiety and fear and obsessed with questions about why she was kidnapped and why her secret-service protector was killed by the U.S. military, as well as broader questions about the war itself and the safety of journalists covering the war. Vanessa Bush
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