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In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq Hardcover – May 2, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1ST edition (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743277031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743277037
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,994,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rosen minutely charts the course of Iraq's rapidly metastasizing sectarian conflict, which he observed up close from the immediate aftermath of Baghdad's fall in 2003 to the elections of January 2005. A fluent speaker of Iraqi Arabic and a freelance journalist, Rosen gained an impressive measure of access to both the Sunni and Shia resistance, dissidents and ordinary Iraqis, attending sermons at mosques and visiting tribal meeting halls across Iraq—from Baghdad to Tikrit, Najaf and Falluja to Kirkuk. The title is a reference to the Islamic idea that martyrs' souls are flown to heaven in the belly of a green bird, the book serves as a window onto the rhetoric, ambitions, strategies and historical context of the numerous violent groups struggling for power. From interviews with major Shia, Sunni and Kurdish players, Rosen reports that most people primarily want the U.S. out, while newly arrived foreign jihadis, radicalized by the American occupation, are at war with Christians, Jews and Shia Muslims. Despite the book's choppy chronological organization and Rosen's workmanlike prose, the end result represents brave reportage and significantly increases our understanding of what Rosen describes as an already raging civil war. (May 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Nir Rosen is a fellow of the New America Foundation. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's Magazine, among other publications.

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Customer Reviews

He also got some great firsthand information.
Z. Freeman
Rosen's book is a must read for anyone interested in discussing the Iraqi conflict.
Gil
Since I have never been to Iraq, I would not know if Iraqis hate us or not.
Kevin M Quigg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Gil on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Rosen's book is a must read for anyone interested in discussing the Iraqi conflict. It provides fascinating and much needed insight into the events of the last three years from a little known perspective - that of the Iraqi population. The reality on the ground proves to be in stark contrast to the platitudes fed by the administration as well the general media which is limited with respect to its access due to both safety concerns as well as an uninviting indigenous population. Rosen's recklessness for his safety seems a blessing as numerous insurgent commanders are interviewed and Rosen leaves no stone unturned.

The book is rather comprehensive in its detailing of the conflict and the various demographics in Iraq. The writing style, though at times uneven, generally proves to be an ideal blend of of vital information and history together with interviews, experiences and anecdotes detailing Rosen's journey throughout the country. The traces of cynicism which decorate the book sporadically hint at Rosen's misanthropic tendencies yet are easily forgiven considering his extended exposure to the various extremes of the cultures he explores.

Overall most of the book is extremely readable (an unexpected page turner at times) and though many of the details and names will escape the reader at its close, the perspective and knowledge gained is invaluable. Perfect for a course on modern Iraqi politics, urban military conflicts and the like.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Clayton E. Swisher on May 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Finally, at long last, a readable, credible account arrives that objectively peers inside the Iraq insurgency to explain its foundation, motivation, and evolution.

After culturally emerging himself with Iraqis of every stripe, Rosen writes from a decidedly non-Western perspective, demonstrating a mastery not only of both Shia and Sunni sects of Islam but the complicated and failed history of colonialism in Iraq as well.

Many professionals I know are reading his book carefully to understand what perhaps our Washington-juandiced eyes have been unable to see: that the stigma of occupation runs deep in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, and that no matter how much planning or preparation might have been applied, the US invasion of Iraq was doomed from the start.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Nate Wright on June 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was excited to read this book. I thought Rosen's movement outside of the Green Zone might have generated valuable insight into both Iraqi and resistance culture. Unfortunately, I found the book analytically shallow, skimming the public surface of the society without penetrating into the substance beneath it. He overwhelms the reader with details of his experience in Iraq, and emphasizes that his knowledge of the language and the culture aided his understanding, but these details are only compensation for his inability to actually explain much about the things he is describing.

As examples, I will use two themes that dominate Rosen's book: anti-Semitism and the rhetoric of religious leaders. Rosen is repeatedly pointing out Iraqis' tendency to blame the circumstances of the Middle East, and particularly the occupation of Iraq, on conspiring Jews, as well as the frequent use of the term as an insult. He does not, however, attempt any explanation for this phenomenon outside of brief references to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. How do Iraqis perceive of Jewish-ness? What explains their belief in the conspiracy? These questions are not addressed. Instead, he is content to simply quote a number of anti-Semitic slurs.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the book is the incessant quoting of speeches in mosques without providing any interpretive tools for understanding the rhetoric. Rosen spent a lot of time - the overwhelming majority of the book - listening to sermons and talking to religious leaders. While Rosen does a good job of indicating when a leader might be speaking to militants, he does absolutely nothing to contextualize the language, attitude or culture of political Islam. How do "ordinary" Iraqis interpret these sermons? What do the words mean to them?
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Folantin HALL OF FAME on July 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Freelance reporter Nir Rosen traveled to Iraq and witnessed the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. He remained in Iraq until 2005, and the book, "In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq" is an account of his time there. If you think the war is going swimmingly in Iraq, then this book--a scathing indictment of the Iraqi war--will either annoy you or leave you stunned. Rosen doesn't mince words--to him the Iraqi war is an unmitigated disaster.

The first part of the book begins with the invasion, and the wide range of opinions, expectations and reactions of Iraqis regarding the removal of Saddam and the subsequent American occupation. Rosen notes that at first the "violence was mainly chaotic" but that it rapidly "organized." With no army, no police presence, and no real political figures evident, Rosen argues that a "power vacuum" was created in Iraq, and subsequently, the mosques became the "new centers of power." Then, for a large section of the book, Rosen takes a chronological approach to events in Iraq. Most of us have read the headlines, but he presents the stories behind the headlines--and gives an incredible amount of detail, explanation and valuable cultural information.

Rosen does not hold a high opinion of the American forces in Iraq, and the book's focus is not concerned with getting the opinion of the average soldier. There is no real analysis of American policy regarding the privatization of Iraqi assets--no doubt this is because Rosen does not take a 'bird's eye' view of the war. Rosen's viewpoint is that of an 'on the ground observer' with sympathy for the average Iraqi citizen just trying to go about his business.
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