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How America Lost Iraq Paperback – March 16, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The failure of the American adventure in Iraq is all the more tragic for its promising beginnings, according to this engrossing memoir of the occupation and insurgency. Glantz, a correspondent for the progressive Pacifica radio network, arrived in Iraq immediately after the fall of Baghdad. Against his editors' expectations, he discovered that, although tried by the chaos and lack of basic services, most Iraqis applauded the United States for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Returning in 2004, he found that goodwill squandered, as Iraqis grew increasingly angry at the continuing absence of electricity and clean water, high unemployment, anarchy in the streets and mass imprisonment of innocent people by American soldiers who couldn't tell insurgents from civilians. With the brutal sieges of Fallujah and Najaf in April 2004, Glantz contends, the transformation of the United States in the eyes of Iraqis from liberator to oppressor was complete. Glantz's account is full of interviews with ordinary Iraqis, and from their evolving thoughts and experiences he builds a critique of the many American misconceptions about Iraq, one that castigates equally the left's knee-jerk preconceptions, the occupation authorities' cluelessness and heavy-handed misrule and the media's lack of interest in the suffering of Iraqis. The result is a nuanced and hard-hitting indictment. Agent, Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Glantz is a reporter for the leftist-leaning Pacifica Radio. On the eve of the American invasion, he held rather predictable views; an American invasion would be folly, dictated by our thirst for cheap oil. Once he arrived in Iraq after the invasion, Glantz acknowledged his surprise. Among many Iraqis, there was genuine elation that Saddam's tyranny had been overthrown. If the American presence wasn't viewed with jubilation, it was at least accepted as a necessary but temporary evil. Unfortunately, according to Glantz, the Americans quickly squandered this advantage. Because of the arrogance and incompetence of the military and private contractors, electrical power wasn't restored, drinking water remained polluted, and citizens remained at the mercy of looters and thugs. The heavy hand of the military at Abu Ghraib prison and during the assault on the city of Fallujah further alienated public opinion. This is not a balanced work; Glantz clearly wants to score points against American policy, and he shows little sympathy for the difficult decisions made during a military occupation. Still, his views are well presented and deserve serious consideration. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (March 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585424870
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585424870
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,304,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By V. I. Scherb on June 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Aaron Glantz, a reporter for Pacifica Radio, has written a compelling first hand account of his experiences in Iraq between early 2003 and early 2005. This is new journalism at its best. Mr. Glaantz is very upfront about where he is coming from as a supporter of human rights for all, whether they be Americans, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, or Iraqi Christians. He is quite willing to acknowledge the atrocities of Saddam's regime as well as of the terrorists and U.S. forces. Living among the Iraqi people and sometimes mistaken for one by U.S. soldiers, he brings clarity to a complex situation and puts a human face on people under enormous pressure that you won't soon forget. Glaantz's honesty comes through in a way you never see in the mainstream media, whose reporters are often isolated from the day to day lives of Iraqis in their suites at the Palestine hotel. He is also quite willing to turn his eyes on himself, asking "How many people can you interview whose relatives have been killed before you start to crack--or worse, tune it all out?"

In addition to a strong narrative arc that describes how American liberators became occupiers became oppressors, the book is filled with details and conversations that make pieces of the puzzle that is Iraq fall into place. To pick one example, his discussion of kidnappings in Iraq brings up thought-provoking points that one rarely hears voiced. Glaantz notes an Associated Press report that "80 percent of the roughly 170 foreigners kidnapped in Iraq had been peacefully released. Overall, it seemed hostages directly involved in the occupation [this would include contractors working for the military] fared much worse than their civillian counterparts" (217).
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Format: Hardcover
Aaron Glantz has penned a treasure with How America Lost Iraq. A little over two years have passed since the American invasion of Iraq began, and conditions on the ground in Iraq are largely the same as or even worse than they were just after the invasion. This book explores why.

In his search for the answers, Glantz actually behaves as a real journalist. Unlike most Western reporters who file their stories without having real contact with the people about whom they are reporting, Glantz courageously ventures throughout Iraq, visits cities many reporters probably do not even know exist, and puts his finger on the pulse of Iraqi public opinion.

In light of the fact that Glantz is a reporter for Pacifica Radio, his frankness and objectivity were surprising. Many liberals will identify with Glantz's cynicism of the American military's tactics and intentions, but to my (and his) surprise, he confesses that his cynicism may have been partially baseless. The American military DID try to avoid civilian deaths by bombing only military installations. Furthermore, most Iraqis immediately after Saddam's fall welcomed the American military as liberators.

Where Glantz hits his stride, however, is his detailing of how the Iraqi gratitude transformed into contempt, how the U.S. truly did manage to "lose Iraq" through a brutal and counter-productive occupation. Readers cannot help but despair as they read account after account of U.S. forces digging themselves deeper into a quagmire through brutal suppression, collective punishment, and an assortment of other egregious practices. The violent Iraqi responses to these activities lead to more crack-downs, which in turn spur more Iraqi violence, creating a never-ending spiral of escalating brutality.
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Format: Hardcover
Aaron Glantz, along with everyone else in their right mind, is obviously critical of the US presence in Iraq, however, his account is unique in several important respects. First of all, due to his courageous approach in working outside of areas secured by US forces, he offers unique insights into how this disaster continues to evolve. Secondly, his perspective is refreshingly credible; the reader can easily follow how and why he arrives at his conclusions. In most critical analyses of the Iraq invasion and occupation, the authors seem to have already made up their minds, and proceed to justify their conclusions. Unlike such hysterical screeds, Glantz's book is not only highly credible, but exceptionally well written.
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Format: Hardcover
Aaron Glantz, a Pacifica radio correspondent, painstakingly traces where and how the United States repeatedly messed up in Iraq. His title radically differs from other books on the subject, using multiple sources to deliver one of the most multidimensional and sophisticated critiques of Iraq.

Specifically, he talks to the Iraqi people themselves to get their own perspectives on this event. Not surprisingly, they were initially skeptical of his intentions, but he built up enough trust to produce this book. It is disturbing that talking to the Iraqi people themselves is considered a radical action.

Saddam Hussein was this infamous tyrant who appeared uninterested in his own people's well being so they were happy to get rid of him--until they also lost what basic services which they had been previously receiving. Glantz then writes that suicide bombings can be profitable for people who have been and are receiving little money otherwise in an allegedly rebuilt Iraq (pp. 119-120).

Because I predominantly receive my own news about Iraq (and the Middle East) from American news media, I had not previously considered the economic incentives to participate in a suicide bombing. Some people are participating in these activities to feed themselves and/or their families, with many other options currently unavailable. I had honestly assumed that the people who participated in these events were doing this for socioreligious sincerity alone; however I guess it's easy for Washington officials to moralize and grandstand when they don't have to worry about their own children starving.

Glantz also critiques us on the left for getting too in love with protesting against this very war.
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