- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (September 19, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400044871
- ISBN-13: 978-1400044870
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (249 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #544,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 19, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
As the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, Chandrasekaran has probably spent more time in U.S.-occupied Iraq than any other American journalist, and his intimate perspective permeates this history of the Coalition Provisional Authority headquartered in the Green Zone around Saddam Hussein's former palace. He presents the tenure of presidential viceroy L. Paul Bremer between May 2003 and June 2004 as an all-too-avoidable disaster, in which an occupational administration selected primarily for its loyalty to the Bush administration routinely ignored the reality of local conditions until, as one ex-staffer puts it, "everything blew up in our faces." Chandrasekaran unstintingly depicts the stubborn cluelessness of many Americans in the Green Zone—like the army general who says children terrified by nighttime helicopters should appreciate "the sound of freedom." But he sympathetically portrays others trying their best to cut through the red tape and institute genuine reforms. He also has a sharp eye for details, from casual sex in abandoned offices to stray cats adopted by staffers, which enable both advocates and critics of the occupation to understand the emotional toll of its circuslike atmosphere. Thanks to these personal touches, the account of the CPA's failures never feels heavy-handed. (Sept. 22)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From The New Yorker
This revealing account of the postwar administration of Iraq, by a former Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, focusses on life in the Green Zone, the American enclave in central Baghdad. There the Halliburton-run (and Muslim-staffed) cafeteria served pork at every meala cultural misstep typical of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which had sidelined old Arab hands in favor of Bush loyalists. Not only did many of them have no previous exposure to the Middle East; more than half had never before applied for a passport. While Baghdad burned, American officials revamped the Iraqi tax code and mounted an anti-smoking campaign. Chandrasekaran's portrait of blinkered idealism is evenhanded, chronicling the disillusionment of conservatives who were sent to a war zone without the resources to achieve lasting change.
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Top Customer Reviews
Maybe your name is James Haveman, a 60 year old social worker. I don't know if we have a job for you. Wait, you are a true party loyalist? How about taking over the Iraqi health care system? Currently we have a gentleman running it named Frederick Burkle, Jr. He's a physician with an MA in public health, postgraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and UC Berkeley. He specializes in disaster-response issues, a subject he taught at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The problem with him is we aren't sure he is a Republican loyalist. So Jim why don't you go over and take his place?
I am definitely not making this up. If this were a novel by, say, Carl Hiaasen, it would be the funniest book of the year. Tragically, this is real life. I finished this book right after reading "Fiasco", and don't know if I can take many more recountings of the disaster that is Iraq.
The folks that were sent to Iraq to build a new nation made all the wrong decisions at just the right time. They were literally trying to turn Iraq into a little USA. The new traffic codes and the new regulations for the stock exchange? The Iraqis read them through, and carefully filed them in the circular file.Read more ›
The author documents both the unreality of the Green Zone ("The fear on the faces of American troops was rarely seen by the denizens of the Palace") and the terrible errors that resulted from arrogance, ignorance, and plain bureaucratic in-fighting.
The author opens by concluding that most of those serving in the provisional authority simply gave up and went through the motions. He calls them a motley bunch, most qualified by allegiance to the neo-conservative wing of the Republican Party, rather than actually being competent or even relevant. The author makes an informed speculative judgement that fully half of those serving, many callow youths, got their first passport to take the political appointments in Iraq. Great line from one disillusioned staffer: "I'm a neo-conservative who has been mugged by reality."
Bremer screwed this up, but it was Dick Cheney who chose him for the job and got General Garner fired. Dick Cheney also personally directed the removal of Tom Warrick, the only person in the US government that actually understood Iraq in all its nuances, from the Garner team, largely to protect Chalabi--a thief and a liar according to CIA and State, a willing accomplice who sucked up to Cheney--and block objections to Chalabi being installed as the leader.
The author also reports that Doug Feith kept General Garner ignorant in order to promote Chalabi as the one with the answers.Read more ›
A frustrating book to read as well, as you realize that the insurgency might have been stunted before it took hold had the CPA been either competent or qualified. The desire to have "good Republicans" in key roles as opposed to experienced experts might have cost us this war and a golden opportunity to bring democracy to the region. An important book to read to not only understand why we failed, but also to gauge our chances of success going forward.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent look at the total confusion that was a hallmark of the Bush years. If you had connections, if you went to the right schools, if you donated to the Party, if you... Read morePublished 4 months ago by R.L.D.
I read this book because a close relative of mine, who lived in the “Emerald City” during the time described in the book, highly recommended me to read. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gerardo Bruno Lopez
Excellent read. Rich, specific details inform historical story telling.Published 7 months ago by Daniel Hawkins
Really opened my eyes to our government during the Bush administration. I have been checking the info out and it squares with the book.Published 7 months ago by Stephen Brockwell
I thought this summed up the Iraq era very well and it is scathing....but all covered by facts that seem pretty much incontrovertible.Published 11 months ago by J. Williams
Astounding insight into the arrogance, stupidity, cronyism and staggering incompetence on a global scale that was the US invasion of Iraq and the failed attempt at nation building... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Zachary King