From Publishers Weekly
Not since Vietnam have journalists played a more important role in an engagement of arms than in the most recent war in Iraq. So even as soldiers and Iraqis continue to die in the uneasy aftermath, we have this surprisingly cogent and balanced narrative based on a wide range of national and international reporting and analysis, embedded or otherwise, by New York Times reporters. Veteran Times correspondent Purdum, synthesizing the work of numerous colleagues, ably documents the clash of combatants, the political machinations that preceded the stunning victory and the sobering human and material costs, all in the fast-moving, accessible style of a thoughtful techno-thriller. Alternating smoothly among far-flung military units, Washington, European capitals, the streets of Baghdad and America's front porches, Purdum provides far more detail and perspective than anyone could have absorbed at the time from their newspapers and televisions. Most memorable are the many stories of individual soldiers and civilians in extremis and in their own words, but the book's greatest contribution is showing how ideas beget policies that lead to war, in this case the ideas and policy known as the Bush Doctrine, best captured by an army colonel, echoing Bush's own words, after the first ground raid into Baghdad: "This shows we can go anywhere... at a time of our choosing." With the fates of Saddam, bin Laden and the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan still uncertain, Purdum wrapped this compelling work in August, but not before asking tough questions about what "victory" means. 23 photos, 8 maps not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Purdum, a correspondent in the New York
Times' Washington bureau (and the husband of former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers), shares credit with the dozens of Times
staffers on whose work the book is based. He describes this timely chronicle of the recent Iraq war as "a synthesis of the paper's comprehensive reportage." The story is laid out with great attention to time lines, from the Gulf War of 1991, to the proclamation of the "Bush Doctrine," to the UN resolutions and the ultimate failure of diplomacy there, and finally to the onset and prosecution of the war itself. In addition to many familiar details, readers get a few looks behind the scenes, such as an amusing anecdote of President Bush at Camp David, or during the intensity of the war's first night, his decision to give the go-ahead to run the famous "decapitation" strike based on the CIA's claim to know Saddam's whereabouts. In all, a professional job in getting the whole story between covers before history begins refining the story. Allen WeaklandCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved