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My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope Hardcover – January 9, 2006

3.4 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Rife with behind-the-scenes machinations at the highest levels of the administration." -- The Los Angeles Times

"A compelling story of the labor pains of a nation in the throes of rebuilding." -- San Antonio Express News

"Bremer details the treacherous, sweltering days, the obstacles and the historic achievements." -- National Review

"[An] excellent memoir. . . . It is candid, precise, lucid, and honest." -- Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, a career diplomat, was the Presidential Envoy to Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004. During his twenty-three years at the State Department, he served on the personal staffs of six secretaries of state and on four continents. In the 1980s, he was Ambassador to the Netherlands and Ambassador at Large for Counter Terrorism. After leaving government, he was Managing Director of Kissinger Associates. In December 2004, George W. Bush awarded Bremer the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service in Iraq.

Malcolm McConnell is the coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller American Soldier with Tommy Franks and My Year in Iraq with L. Paul Bremer III. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 417 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Number 709 of 1,450 edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743273893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743273893
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bremer was appointed head of the CPA. Bremer did not speak Arabic, had never served in an Arab country, knew virtually nothing about Iraq (its economy, political structure, ethnic/religious divides, etc.) and perhaps more critically, Bremer had never managed a major program or corporation thus lacking critical management skills. His leadership of the CPA must go down as one of the most disastrous failures in US foreign policy. Many of the problems now facing the USA in Iraq can directly be attributed to decisions made and executed by Bremer. In many ways Bremer reminds one of "Heck-of-a-job" Brown during the Katrina crises. Both were decent men, both took their jobs seriously and both were strikning examples of the "Peter principle"- rising to their respective levels of incompetence.

However, as one of the other reviewers noted, this is a must read for anyone attempting to understand this phase of the US occupation of Iraq. There is no doubt that Mr. Bremer took his role seriously and worked very hard at his task. Sadly, he very conceit and self confidence brought about the disaster of today's Iraq. As Caesar's wife Portia notes..."you are consumed with confidence" when she urges him to forbear going to the Senate. Caesar's over confidence was Rome's tragedy that resulted in endless civil war. Bremer's self confidence has brought a similar result. We know, for example, that he ordered the disbanding of the Iraqi army. In his book, however, he pretends that the order was simply a formality- that the army had self imploded. However, what he does not admit is that key officers of the Iraqi army were already in negotiations to call back their units under US supervision.
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Format: Paperback
Bremer's year in Iraq was the turning point in the Iraq war...a war that was not considered in is consequences by Bush or his cronyies, bomb first, think later if at all! It was a year when both security and economic issues were in desperate need of the best minds possible...instead we got Bremer. It is not that the endless problems that came up were entirely Bremer's fault, except in part..the war architects had not even minimally anticipated what would happen, thus they destroyed central leadership [....], then through bombing destroy resource basis, then through disbanding security forces (Bremer) unleashed competitive violence and underlyng ethnic conflict.amazing thatthey did not see it coming...incompetent and America and the Iraqis pay and pay and pay.........
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Format: Audio CD
I think that this is one of the important books of the Iraq war. Bremer is perhaps the most important figure of the most important part of it, namely, the attempted reconstruction of the country. This book describes his efforts toward that end, and attempts to justify his decisions.

Unfortunately, the effort is a disaster. Bremer really didn't have much experience with this kind of work, and it appears clear from the beginning that right-wing ideology was the driving factor in his decision making -- and most of these decisions suffered for that. For instance, Bremer refused to re-open the state-run businesses, because he thought the private sector should run all business -- this immediately threw tens of thousands of people out of work. Similarly, the draconian de-Baathification forced almost all qualified managers from their jobs. Bremer also, and I think unforgivably, doesn't spend any time comparing this attempted rebuilding to the very successful post WW II efforts. In particular, the de-Baathification seems to have been based on the de-Nazification in Germany, without really looking too closely at what might be different between Iraq and Germany.

Still, it's an interesting book, and a point of view that should be a part of any study of the war. The book could well have been 10 times as long, and it would be interesting to see what parts were edited out. I share others recommendations of "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" as a great companion book.
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Format: Hardcover
I took great care to read this book slowly. See my list on Iraq Evaluations.

Bremer is clearly a decent man, hard-working, totally clueless about Middle Eastern and military affairs, and put in a no-win situation by George Bush and Dick Cheney. Bremer bugged out after a year, and now, two years later, the Administration we have a quagmire and a possible attack on Iran building up.

Quite incredulously, for me at least, Bremer actually sees Iraq as the crux of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and yet is totally oblivious to the fact that we created this battlefield opportunity for Iran and Al-Qaeda. See At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA

Early on the book makes it clear that Iraqis were delighted to be liberated, dismayed at the occupation, and completely unable to agree among themselves about how to achieve a legitimate government capable of stabilizing and reconstructing the country.

This is a very self-serving book, extraordinarily selective in its recollections. A few things that really struck me:

1) This book starts without reference to the path to war paved by lies from the Vice President and other members of the Bush "team." It begins by saying that it was "widely accepted" that Weapons of Mass Destruction were the proper cause of the invasion. BALONEY. See instead Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq and
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