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The Freedom: Shadows And Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq Paperback – November 3, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This collection of dispatches from in and around Baghdad emerges from Nation reporter Parenti's time embedded with U.S. soldiers as well as ventures out on his own. The book's main interest is that it provides access to people not heard from often enough: with a translator, Parenti interviews sheikhs, hospital staff, young prostitutes, aid workers and the families of civilians killed by American troops or disappeared into prisons like Abu Ghraib. The results make what's happening on the ground significantly more vivid and disturbing than most conventional news reports. Parenti also describes incompetence and corruption in reconstruction efforts, as well as killings and humiliations of Iraqi citizens that work to push young men into the ranks of the insurgency. He talks to American soldiers in the barracks and on patrol who hope that (but aren't sure if) they are doing the right thing. Over Parenti's three trips to Iraq from December 2003 to June 2004, relationships between all aspects of the U.S. military and Iraqi society become further entrenched in violence, hatred and chaos, all exacerbated by a lack of potable water and a still disabled electrical grid. It's a grim story, and it feels real.
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.

Review

"For those who desire a taste of what occupied Iraq feels and smells and tastes like for the war correspondents, soldiers and Iraqis dealing with the mess that is ‘free’ Iraq, The Freedom is essential reading." —San Diego Union-Tribune

"[Parenti] has an eye for the perfect image, a wonderful ear for dialogue and a prose style that floats across the page." —Las Vegas Mercury

"The Freedom, a short, fast-paced book, scenic like a good film script, is steeped in the irony and horror of war." —Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (November 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595580379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595580375
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.5 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,236,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Folantin HALL OF FAME on December 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq" is the cumulative result of journalist Christian Parenti's three trips to Iraq. He examines the occupation through the eyes of all involved parties--from the soldiers and marines who serve there to the Iraqis whose country has fallen into complete chaos. Parenti takes us to the land where "the freedom" lays waste a country, and it's here, Parenti argues that we see "the Conradian end of the river where empire's lawless opportunities mix with personal madness to form a potent political and psychedelic cocktail."

In a sympathetic fashion, Parenti interviews several members of 3rd Battalion of the 124th Infantry--National Guardsmen from North Florida. When not on patrol, the guardsmen live in cramped quarters where the men suffer from water rationing, chronic boredom, and ever-delayed, morale-crushing departure dates.

With his faithful and colourful translator, Akeel, Parenti makes several dangerous sorties into Iraq--beyond the fortified Green Zone ("a clean air-conditioned oasis") and talks to Iraqis who are willing to tell their stories. Some are victims of checkpoint incidents; others survive after their families are wiped out in incidents hurriedly covered up and termed 'mistakes'. And some Iraqis make the trip to Abu Gharib to see their incarcerated family members.

Parenti also details the carpet-bagging atmosphere in Iraq--the ridiculous so-called 'reconstruction' that has escalated into a free-for-all. "The idea of American imperial beneficence and competence" in action is an opportunity to loot millions in reconstruction money.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has been compared to Michael Herr's Dispatches and I think that's deserved. This is a crazy, creepy, scary, tragic and sometimes really funny story about the US occupation of Iraq. The author traveled around the Sunni Triangle over the first year and a half of the occupation. Unlike many books on Iraq that either cover US troops or just the civilian perspective, this guy embedded with US troops, saw some combat, met the resistance, hung with normal Iraqis and has some weird insights on the journalists and civilian occupiers. It's all combined into a vividly real and surreal portrait of the disaster that is unfolding in Iraq. He also works a lot of information about Iraq and Iraqis. I particularity like that the author, though harsh on American policy is sympathetic to the troops stuck with the job of carrying out the policy. It's a quick read, worth checking out.
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By Matthew Bacik on September 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a genuine depiction of my experiences in Al Fallujah. Mr. Parenti was one of few journalists to truly imbed himself with my platoon; often displaying more regard for his craft than his personal safety. I recommend "The Freedom" to the serious reader seeking a true depiction of our struggle to simultaneously fulfill the roles of warrior and statesman.
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Format: Hardcover
This excellent book gives a vivid picture of the horrors of the US-British occupation of Iraq. It is now three and a half years since Bush promised to get `the people who knocked these buildings down'. Instead, he attacked the one Middle Eastern country where there was no Al Qa'ida.

What does the occupation mean? 40,000 prisoners, torture, atrocities, beatings, humiliation, intimidation, killings, death squads, house searches, raids, demolitions. No jobs, no water, no electricity, no rebuilding, no security. Power plants, telephone exchanges, sewage and sanitation systems all still in ruins.

The US government pledged $18.4 billion for rebuilding Iraq, but any money goes straight through to firms like Halliburton, which gets $1 billion of taxpayers' money every month, saving it from bankruptcy. (Cheney had bought Dresser Industries for $7.7 billion, without noticing that it owed billions in damages.)

Bechtel got the $1.8 billion contract to rebuild Iraq's water, sewage and electricity systems. Both Halliburton and Bechtel have been fined for corrupt practice. Another US firm got a $780 million contract, despite convictions for fraud on three federal projects and a total ban on receiving US government work.

The coalition gets ever smaller, the insurgency ever larger: the longer the occupiers stay, the more insurgents there seem to be.

Rumsfeld, while publicly promising a swift victory, said in a private memo that the USA is in for a `long, hard slog' in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cheney said in April 1991, "I think to have American military forces engaged in a civil war inside Iraq would fit the definition of quagmire, and we have absolutely no desire to get bogged down in that fashion."

It's an old story. T. E.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Parenti's book provides a first-hand description of life in occupied Iraq, primarily the life of the occupiers, but also that of the occupied. None of this has been seen on the network news or read about in the corporate transcriptions of Pentagon PR that pass for newspapers in the United States. Yet much of it will be familiar - primarily from movies based on the war on Vietnam.

Through Parenti's well-told accounts of people and events, we see the horrors and blunders of war, the cruelty that can result from a language barrier, the trigger-happy fear, the pharmaceutical-induced courage, the bureaucratic nightmare for victims' families, the sociopathic humor of the deeply disturbed, and the conflicts between the corporate profiteers and decision makers and the U.S. National Guard troops brought in to do their bidding.

Parenti is a talented writer and observer, and he throws in asides about his own exploits that can occasionally seem out of place but serve as comic relief, bits that could have come from Hunter S. Thompson or Henry Miller. So, the book is entertaining. It's also honest - about the suffering caused by the Saddam Hussein regime, by those who have replaced it, and by the resistance.

If anything were to change the minds of those Americans still supporting this war - short of persuading television news to show images of what war does to human flesh and human families - it would be an account like this of what life is like on the ground in Iraq. But I'm afraid this account may not reach as many people as it otherwise might, because the dust-jacket and the early pages label this a book from the "liberal elite."

Parenti's preface says: "I have chosen descriptive reportage over a more analytical approach for a number of reasons.
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