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I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story Paperback – Bargain Price, February 16, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In his powerful debut, a young Newsweek reporter details two tumultuous years covering the war while falling in love with his long-distance girlfriend Andi, who would join him in Iraq only to be killed in a botched kidnapping. Largely concerned with describing on-the-ground conditions, Hastings reports with insight and grim humor from the front lines, embedded with soldiers in "a world with its own language and geography." Hastings handles the grisly particulars directly, the way he talks with the troops; the account is pocked with their tales, short bursts of heart-stopping sadness ("One American and at least fifteen Iraqi children killed") with no lesson or redemption indicated, and often without follow-up. The chaos is given shape by Hastings' romance with Andi, who remains in New York for a year before joining him in the Green Zone; dates, emails and instant messages provide a welcome reprieve, and drive the narrative toward its devestating conclusion like a tightly-plotted thriller. Like Mariane Pearl's A Mighty Heart, this is a tragic love story with broad appeal married to an unflinching account of wartime violence and brutality; as such, it should do even more than that bestseller to fill in a general audience on the dire state of Iraq. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In 2005, at the age of 25, Hastings was sent by Newsweek to cover the war in Iraq. Eventually, his girlfriend, Andi Parhamovich, joined him, working for the National Democratic Institute to try to create democratic institutions. The story of their moving and ultimately tragic relationship forms the core of Hasting’s account. The book begins and ends with the horrifying terror attack that killed Parhamovich. In between, Hastings describes how two young, almost hopelessly idealistic people try to nurture and maintain a relationship amid the daily carnage in Baghdad. This is no sappy love story. There is, of course, affection, but there is also conflict as both show the stress of constant fear for their personal safety. This is also a rather brutal story of a society ripping itself apart. Particularly after the March 2006 bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, sectarian violence rages with increasing savagery. No one is immune. Supposed noncombatants must travel in security convoys protected by private security firms. Parhamovich’s death is emotionally wrenching, but it seems almost predictable in this moving but deeply disturbing story. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
I finally read this book after avoiding it and many other Iraq memoirs for the better part of the last decade. I served in Iraq in 2004-5 and then in 2006-7. When not there, I worked on Iraq policy in the Pentagon or State Department. For personal reasons I haven't had much of a desire to read about our great tragedy in Iraq, but last month I picked Mike's book up off of my shelf and began it.
First, Mike's details are spot on. His first initial experiences entering a Baghdad at war, his acclimatization to "normality" at war, and then his struggle with the dissonance between life in America and life at war are not just exacting and illustrative, but touching and sincere. To be short, his reporting of both the war and life at home during war, or America in exception to war, is excellent.
But, on top of outstanding war reporting, and what is lost, I believe, in so much of our discussion and understanding of war, is the personal story. War is above all else a human experience. The larger, macro examination and discussion of Iraq in its common form as geo-political, DC Beltway pundit banter is meaningless when compared with the millions upon millions of individual stories of men, women and children, most of them tales of suffering and grief, too many of them snuffed out and no longer continuing.
Mike's story is intimate, genuine, heartbreaking, and, as great writing does, transcends the immediate environment of the story to be understood as a universal truism that others can share in. While Mike's war reporting will explain and describe the events of that war to allow someone inexperienced with its madness, his personal story, of his love and relationship, will be readily identifiable by any of us who have loved and lost.
What makes the book all the more poignant is the chain of events that have succeeded its publication. Neither the subject of the title of this book - Hastings' girlfriend Andi - nor the author himself, are still alive today. No doubt some of the American soldiers and many of the Iraqi civilians mentioned in the book have died in the past few years as well. And the fact that the group claiming responsibility for Andi's death - the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - has grown tremendously in strength and geographic influence as of 2014, serves as an eerie foreshadowing of events that Hastings' couldn't have foreseen.
I would recommend this book for anyone looking for insight into Iraq's political troubles or anyone interested in a personal perspective on current affairs in the Middle East.
Hastings account of his romance with Andi Parhamovich rings true, their interactions and emotions are easy to identify with. Sadly, his Andi ended up in Iraq where it was fatal to be naive and idealistic. The entire book is excellent journalism but Hasting's description of his own actions and his journey home following Andi's death are classic anti war literature. The reader sees what the American public is not supposed to see.
Most recent customer reviews
a inside look at what goes on during occupational wars.