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To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind Paperback – October 7, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 44 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"Devastating . . ." the story of "interpreters and aid workers who risked their lives to work with the Americans, only to find themselves left behind as the United States pulled out, their lives in peril in a country that now regards them as despised collaborators." -- Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Kirk Johnson is one of the few genuine heroes of America's war in Iraq.... Johnson's story is about America's shame, and also its honor. This is an essential book." -- Dexter Filkins, Pulitzer Prize-nominee, New Yorker staff writer, and author of The Forever War

“I have long been an admirer of Kirk Johnson--for his humanitarian advocacy on behalf of forgotten Iraqis and for his honest and poetic writing…. His is a story that arcs from charity to futility to pain to charity again, and how much he needs to tell it equals how much it deserves to be read.” -- David Finkel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Good Soldiers

"What is so intriguing about this beautifully written book is that while it is a scathing critique of America's policy toward Iraq, it is not one of your usual policy books. To Be a Friend is Fatal is a deeply personal and poignant story about how one young American's passion and curiosity lead him to a distant and troubled land, where his empathy and sense justice prevent him from giving up on the people abandoned by the U.S. government." -- Azar Nafisi, New York Times-bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

"[A] truly incredible story." -- Ira Glass, "This American Life"

“From the ruins of the war in Iraq and his own broken body, Kirk Johnson made it his cause to redeem the one American promise to Iraqis that honor required us to keep. He tirelessly fought the political resistance and bureaucratic indifference of two administrations. His account is riveting, darkly funny, heroic, and shaming.” -- George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate and The Unwinding

"Johnson makes sharp criticisms.... A well-written account of one man’s righteous quest to overcome government bureaucracy.", Kirkus

"It is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this." -- Rayyan Al-Shawaf, The Boston Globe

"The well-written book - the author is an honest, engaging and indomitable guide - warrants a special place in nonfiction shelves." -- John Kael Weston, The Daily Beast

"A searing account.", The New Yorker

About the Author

Kirk W. Johnson has become the leading public voice on the plight of America’s Iraqi allies. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Fulbright Scholar, and recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and Yaddo, his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and Foreign Policy. Founder of the List Project, Johnson lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
  • Paperback : 338 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 147671049X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1476710495
  • Product Dimensions : 5.69 x 1 x 8.75 inches
  • Publisher : Scribner; Reprint Edition (October 7, 2014)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 44 ratings

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
44 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on March 5, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2013
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Top reviews from other countries

Affaan Moosa
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 10, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book written by a very special man.
Reviewed in Canada on August 28, 2014
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Malcolm Rust
5.0 out of 5 stars Title says it all!
Reviewed in Canada on December 29, 2013
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