- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Nation Books; 1 edition (October 26, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1568584016
- ISBN-13: 978-1568584010
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World 1st Edition
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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
"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
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Today I finished reading the book. There is nothing like it to help those interested understand Iraq's woes. Only an insider like Rosen could provide the details that make me believe our involvement, whatever the intent, masked the realities of ground truth. There's not much to be proud of. But there is hope for a better future.
Nir Rosen's superb Aftermath tries to cut through the fog by letting us hear from those fighting and dying, those hoping and despairing, those whose lives our policy makers have inexorably changed. They tell him (and through him, us) varied stories -- sort of like stones in a mosaic. We thus get to see more of the whole than we do through ordinary reportage. That, in my view, is the great strength of this book and Rosen's reporting.
As everyone knows by now, another great reporter, Anthony Shadid, has died trying to give us a sense of the madnesses that have killed, maimed, and displaced untold millions. Thus, Rosen (and a few others like him) are even more valuable -- because without them, we have to rely on those whose words serve mainly their own interests.
American incompetence and bloodiness come across in this work. It is "Collateral Murder" in print and about any number of neighborhoods.
This is how you have to do to describe insurgent warfare. But survival not in the cards if you try to do it. One other miracle: he is accepted as a friend by Shiite and Sunni belligerents.
Maybe the best book, ever, out of the Arab world.
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. I must say, I expected the book to be extremely violent and unsettling (Iraq is not a playground) but I was very surprised by Rosen's de-humanised and unsympathetic depictions of Arabs throughout the whole text.
Compare, for a moment, with Robert Fisk's work, which also focuses on the Middle East and Islam : Fisk is very honest about the levels of extreme and horrific violence that Shia/Sunni people visit on each other -- but at the same time, he constantly reminds us of Arab humanity, and the fact that Arabs are no different from the rest of us in their hopes and dreams and aspirations. Fisk also reminds us of the demagoguery, cunning and levels of violence caused by gentile, Jew, and American, which is often far more extreme, albeit carried out by mass bombing attacks, or machine gun, or by paying other factions do it, rather than by bloody knife, beating or kidnapping. Rosen does not provide such balance of approach in his work, and each Arab emerges as a completely deranged psychopath -- and stupid too.
Rosen only seems to select for interview every incredibly violent, ignorant, tribally driven, blood thirsty, vengeful, hateful, apoplectic, seemingly psychotic, murderous individual he finds in the darkened corners of Iraq.
It gets tiring and draining after the 200th page of such relentless, bleak, vicious, hate.
It is clear that Rosen is a talented, intelligent young writer and a courageous one too. Much of his work seems to be of a similar standard to that of Fisk and Pilger. It is also clear that he has collected a wealth of information here that is valuable as a historical document as well as being valuable for students of political science, current affairs and history.
But -- why didn't the publishers pay a good editor to sculpt and hone the massive amount of often jumbled and cobbled together information here, to offer the reader a punchy, concise volume? As it stands, the reader is faced with a difficult, badly organised, confusing, often infuriating volume to wade into.
Chomsky recommended Rosen's work in the sleeve notes - but, I wonder if Chomsky actually read it.
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