From Publishers Weekly
With the intriguing premise focused on the neglected citizens of occupied Iraq, Fassihi, the Wall Street Journal
's senior Middle East correspondent, gathered numerous interviews throughout the war-torn cities and religious strongholds of Iraq. The author first came to international attention when a personal e-mail chronicling the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq made its way onto blogs in 2004; in this book, written in the same spirit as the e-mail, she dissects the convoluted conflicts and connections that closely bind the two major religious groups jockeying for control in the occupied land. She talks to a wide range of people, from staid government personnel to fiery clerics to zealous students, about the country's unstable political and social climate. Fassihi, of Iranian descent, cajoles the normally media-shy working and middle-class people of Sulaimaniyah, Baghdad, Kirkuk and Tikrit to speak on the before-and-after conditions of their civil freedoms. Through these conversations, Fassihi posits hard political and moral questions. (Sept.)
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*Starred Review* As the senior Wall Street Journal Middle East correspondent, Fassihi is more than credible in her candid assessment of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. On the ground in Baghdad both before and after Saddam’s fall, she focused her attention on the most overlooked aspect of the invasion: the Iraqi middle class. In her interviews with Sunnis and Shias, the secular and devout, those who are pro- and anti-American, Fassihi provides a startling compendium on what could have gone right if everything had not gone so wrong. Her frustration with errors of estimation and planning made by the U.S. government is palpable as she records the deterioration of goodwill. Through her careful collection of interviews and investigations, readers finally understand how the occupation became a war fought by multiple factions. What is heartbreaking is that it could have been avoided, and that this fact is so obvious.“It’s astounding,” Fassihi writes, “that the Americans seem so oblivious to their surroundings, with an inherently selective eye for what’s occurring in Iraq.” This is not politics but reportage written, at last, in a way that anyone, regardless of national origin, can understand. --Colleen Mondor