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Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World Hardcover – October 26, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This could not be a more timely or trenchant examination of the repercussions of the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Journalist Rosen has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and Harper’s, among other publications, and authored In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq (2006). His on-the-ground experience in the Middle East has given him the extensive contact network and deep knowledge—advantages that have evaded many, stymied by the great dangers and logistical nightmares of reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. This work is based on seven years of reporting focused on how U.S. involvement in Iraq set off a continuing chain of unintended consequences, especially the spread of radicalism and violence in the Middle East. Rosen offers a balanced answer to the abiding question of whether our involvement was worth it. Many of his points have been made by others, but Rosen’s accounts of his own reactions to what he’s witnessed and how he tracked down his stories are absolutely spellbinding. --Connie Fletcher


THOMAS E. RICKS, author of Fiasco and The Gamble
“If you think you understand the war in Iraq, or just think you should try to, read this book. This is a deep dive through the last seven years of America’s foray into the Middle East. No one will agree with everything here, but anyone interested in what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan will benefit from reading it.”

ANDREW J. BACEVICH, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War
“For Americans, the story of U.S. military involvement in the Islamic world centers on ‘us’ not ‘them,’ with Afghans and Iraqis cast as victims or bystanders. In this brilliantly reported and deeply humane book, Nir Rosen demolishes this self-serving picture, depicting the relationship between the occupied and the occupiers in all its nuanced complexity.”

Reza Aslan, author of No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism
"A searing, first-hand account of the consequences of America's "war on terrorism" by one of the most respected voices on the Middle East. Honest, fearless, devastating. No one but Nir Rosen could have written this book."

“It is a painful experience to read Nir Rosen’s highly informed account of the destruction of Iraq and the spread of the plague of sectarian violence incited by the invasion to Lebanon and beyond. The image this meticulously detailed rendition brings to mind is of a brutal ignoramus wielding a sledgehammer to smash a complex structure he does not understand, with unpredictable but predictably awful consequences. Amazingly, Rosen finds rays of hope in the ruins. No less compelling, and distressing, is his vivid account of his experiences in Taliban-controlled territory. An indispensable contribution to the understanding of great contemporary tragedies.”

Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century
"The world would be a more dangerous place without Nir Rosen's Aftermath. His bracing recounting of the invasion of Iraq and subsequent insurgency, and blunt dissection of the myths surrounding the surge are an essential antidote to the complacency that has set in as America exits Iraq--and which could lead to similar debacles in the future."

Pat Lang 
Aftermath is a masterwork, the product of a life devoted to a relentless pursuit of the knowledge and understanding of strange men who walk in nearly unimaginable paths across the far places of the world.” 

Chris Hedges, Author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Empire of Illusion
“Nir Rosen has almost single handedly rescued the name of journalism in the Middle East from a class of reporters who function as courtiers and propagandists for the military and our political elite. Rosen's fierce independence and honesty, as well as an ability to see the wars we are fighting from all sides, make his book exceptional for its nuance, complexity and insight into our bloody march through the Muslim world.”


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Text is Free of Mark edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584016
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584010
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,467,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dienne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I will start off by agreeing, reluctantly but whole-heartedly, with the criticism of Rosen's writing made in the review by Z. Cohen. This has got to be one of the most tedious books I have ever slogged through. It's roughly equivalent to reading a 560 page newspaper article. There is little flow between sections - we often jump abruptly to a whole new topic. There doesn't seem to be much order to the presentation - entire paragraphs could be put in an entirely different order and it would make little if any difference. Much of the text is basically a series of long quotes (not blocked, even when the quote comprises an entire paragraph or more), which read the way people talk and, hence, are difficult to follow. In fact, I have to admit that, try as I might, I couldn't force my way through the whole thing. I skipped the entire section on Afghanistan and only skimmed the final chapter.

Nonetheless, I believe the book deserves more than one star. I think Rosen is a consummate reporter. He interviewed hundreds of people for the book - Sunnis, Shiites, clerics, militiamen, militia leaders, government officials, American soldiers and officers, humanitarian workers, and simply ordinary Iraqis (and Syrians, Lebanese, etc.). He's not afraid to go where the story takes him and he put himself at great risk to cover events that few other English-speaking journalists were covering. Because of this work, we Americans have a perspective from the ground which we might otherwise not have if we rely solely on administration reports and embedded reporters.

But on the other hand, a 560 page book needs to have a focus, more of a point and needs to ultimately have an opinion.
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Format: Hardcover
One reviewer criticized this book because it is full of stories of individuals and moves from person to person...

That is exactly why this book is important. Think back on how we learned about the war in the news. Looking back through old issues of magazines like Time, the early part of the war was portrayed like a football play book with arrows and circles for the "game plan." Eventually, there was talk of ethnic groups, but hardly anything in depth.

I used to have much more naive ideas about the war and enlisted in the army when I was younger. When I deployed in the surge in 2007, we still had a very shallow understanding that 'if we only try harder, we'll beat the insurgents.' While in Iraq, I read an article that Rosen wrote called "The Myth of the Surge" and it was a rare piece that actually understood what was going on on the ground. My own unit had been negotiating with former enemies and Rosen explains why certain groups resisted and why others didn't and why some ended up working together with us.

The want for a simple narrative of good guys vs. bad guys is exactly what caused so many of these problems to begin with! Slapping easy labels on things helped the public to digest the war (and seemed to help justify it in the minds of those who planned it), but as we all learned, it wasn't that simple.

It is because the war in Iraq and its effects on the surrounding region are so complex that a book like this--that goes in depth about the broad array of different responses--is of such importance. If we truly want to learn why the war played out the way it did, we need to discard the simplistic understanding of it that made it such a mess. If you are prepared for the complex details and nuances of all the different factions and how various groups reacted to various decisions and events, than this book is certainly worth your time!
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Format: Hardcover
I do not feel myself qualified to write an exacting review of Aftermath, but I simply had to post a small piece in counter-distinction to the only other available customer review, which I found vapid and deliberately misleading.

Aftermath is absolutely essential reading for anyone curious about the history and current affairs of geopolitical activity in the Middle East. Rosen writes in a style which I found perfectly suited to both the material and its urgency. There is simply no better single source of information on this topic.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have high regard for Nir Rosen, and I make a point of watching all his youtube interviews, in which he appears bright, balanced, well informed and consistent. I also consider he is a brave young man -- who else would walk into those war zones as an un-embedded journalist, as he does?

And after reading the glowing reviews from Chomsky et al, I considered 'Aftermath' to be a must-have purchase.

However, I have to say, the book is just not that well written -- the prose is leaden, clumsy, confused and unclear, and Rosen meanders all over the place, often telling us irrelevant details that just muddy and befuddle his style and narrative flow -- do we really need to know that one of his interview subjects learned English from listening to hip hop songs, or that another had put on weight since Rosen last saw him, or had recently shaved his moustache? Rosen's attempts to give form to his characters emerges as wooden and simple. It becomes difficult to sustain motivation to wade through such a chaotic writing style, which is often dry and lacking in character (a surprising point, since his online interviews are so involving).

Rosen paints an unremittingly bleak view of the possibilities ahead for Iraq. It seems that every single man he interviews is full of violent hatred and thirst for vengeance. I understand the levels of relentless chaos and hate and violence that must exist in places like Iraq, but ultimately, Rosen's work de-humanises Arabs -- the Arabs in Rosen's pages are so drenched in blood, so disturbed, that they become impossible to recognise as fellow human beings.
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