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Reporting Iraq: An Oral History of the War by the Journalists who Covered It Paperback – October 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633344
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633343
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,891,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With pens down and cameras shuttered, 44 reporters casually and directly discuss all angles of the War in Iraq, including their own shock, fear and incomprehension, in this compilation of interviews conducted by The Columbia Journalism Review. In thematic, loosely chronological chapters ("In the Beginning," "Turning Points," "The Embeds," "The Good News"), the Iraq situation escalates from uncertainty to lawlessness to siege mentality and open insurgency alongside sunny reports from officials: "Iyad Allawi was saying that almost the entire country was safe," while freelancer Andrew Lee Butters was learning doctors in Mosul's main hospitals "were getting three headless bodies delivered to the morgue everyday." A dramatic portrait of Iraq's day-to-day emerges: freelancer Nir Rosen sympathizes with Iraqis' fear of American soldiers; CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer, meanwhile, sees the "ill-prepared" soldiers in essentially the same predicament as the Iraqis: "hostages of a terrible situation." Back home, reporters deal with misinformation, media bias and post-traumatic stress, as well as disillusionment, shame and rage over the stories that will likely never reach a mass audience. The New Yorker's John Lee Anderson says "there's no proper way" to cover war that isn't "rife with contradictions and problems"; this vital, breathtaking collection may be the closest contemporary reporting gets to cutting through the fog of war. 22 color photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“A searing document, one of the most revealing chronicles of the war yet published. It is as though correspondents are talking late into the night, trying to explain what it was like, what sights and smells haunt them, what they're proud of and what they regret, what they saw coming and what they didn't.”
—Anthony Swofford, The Washington Post

“[A] fascinating account of trying to report on a war unprecedented in its danger for the media.... The reporters' accounts here are notable for their studied neutrality. Blood flows, bodies and limbs pile up. They hear the whistle of bullets and whoosh of mortars.”
Los Angeles Times

“A terrific new resource for understanding what really happened—and is happening—in Iraq. A gritty and gripping narrative history of the run–up to war to the present quagmire.”
The Nation

“[A] harrowing portrait of what it was like to live and work in Iraq as the country rapidly descended into chaos.”

“An excellent oral history… Being conversational, Reporting Iraq is much easier to read than a long news story. It is also blunt, and the reader may be thankful that it is organized so it can be taken in small doses.”
The Seattle Times

“Describes the dangers reporters face trying to cover a conflict where just looking foreign makes you suspicious and where roadside bombs are a random and constant threat.”
The Chicago Tribune

"Free from the constraints of objective journalism, the reporters hold nothing back and paint an almost uniformly bleak picture of life in post-Saddam Iraq…. While Reporting Iraq is unlikely to win reporters any new friends—especially among those who already hold them in low regard— the book offers the serious reader a fascinating glimpse into the mind of the Baghdad press corps.”
The Houston Chronicle

“[A]n intimate look at the stories behind the stories reported out of Iraq. The reporters offer early observations that don’t make it into journalistic reports: changes in the expectations that Americans would be greeted as liberators, the personal perils of everyday life, the distancing from the action as Iraqis became more suspicious of journalists, and changes in perceptions of the American mission in Iraq….More illuminating than straightforward reporting."

“The interviews make clear the difficulties in obtaining accurate information during war and insurgency. Many of the journalists developed good working relationships with Iraqi citizens, and they talk about how the war has changed their own lives forever. An enlightening look at the Iraq war.”
Library Journal

"This vital, breathtaking collection may be the closest contemporary reporting gets to cutting through the fog of war.”
Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This will give anyone who wonders about how the news (particularly the news of a controversial war) is transmitted to them via newspaper, television or radio. The interviewers have spoken to some of the best of the reporters who covered the invasion of Iraq at the side of the troops (Peter Maas wrote one of the most thoughtful and chilling reports on what it's like to be combat for the NY Times magazine that I have ever read, and is included in this) as well as those who were in Baghdad.

Most importantly, this shows how with each week and month that passed, the challenges of reporting what was happening within Iraq grew. The story became more complex and the dangers of trying to obtain accurate first hand information became more acute. At the same time, the frustration within the United States has only grown -- hunting for certainties that are thin on the ground, it has become more common to hear politicians and others lash out against "the media" for failing to show the "real" truth of life in Iraq.

Anyone who takes the time to even skim through this oral history will quickly realize that there may be no single truth, much less one that is easily understood by an American public looking for simple narratives. Moreover, readers will marvel that many of the journalists who have traveled to Baghdad over and over again are willing to repeatedly put their lives in jeopardy to try and explain what is happening there.

For anyone interested in delving more deeply, I'd suggest two quasi-memoirs. Naked in Baghdad: The Iraq War and the Aftermath as Seen by NPR's Correspondent Anne Garrels and Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq are both tales of trying to report what is happening in Iraq.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charles A. Krohn on February 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is remarkable for its previously unreported insights and candor. I suppose the participating journalists have nothing to lose now when they talk about the challenges of reporting the war in Iraq. Still, they illuminate how clumsy the efforts were to control what they reported by limiting access or intimidation. It didn't take long for reporters to recognize the gap between ground truth and what was being pitched from the lecturn. This left a credibility gap that should have been forseen, reducing support for the war, whatever the merits. One story still unwritten is the role of Dan Senor when he headed the strategic communications team from the Green Zone. Did he take orders from others in Washington, or did he create policy on his own? Reporters told me they often didn't trust him, but they had no choice but report his observations. Second sourcing was often impossible. We all know there was little Phase IV planning, but the failure to plan for a credible, effective communications organization ranks high among the unforgivable ommissions. The military spokesmen were more credible than Bremer's folks, but military PAOs were not totally independent. It got to the point where Gen Sanchez and Amb Bremer wouldn't brief the media as a team, or so I was told. High marks to Mike Hoyt and John Palattella for assembling this imporessive undertaking.
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By girly girl on February 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this candid look at covering Iraq from the people who were there. The dangers, the disappointments, frustrations, and heartache were palpable. If you care at all about the stories behind the stories, you should consider this book.
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