To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Undoing Saddam: From Occupation to Sovereignty in Northern Iraq Hardcover – January 1, 2007
From the Publisher
Covers the day-to-day work of reconstructing Iraq, especially rebuilding higher education and preserving archaeological sites
Addresses preparations for the 2005 elections
Describes positive events that occurred in Iraq and were not reported in the media
Top Customer Reviews
Having spent most of a year in Mosul with the 101st Airborne Division during OIF, I expected to find Wayne Bowen's account a journey into familiar territory. Rather than provide an insightful account of a remarkably bold and creative effort to bring peace and stability to one of the world's oldest and richest cultures, Undoing Saddam quickly devolves into an inane collection of personal observations, lavishly illustrated with a seemingly endless collection of posed photographs of the author. These observations range from the peculiar (a statistical profiling of the number of American soldiers who regularly attend religious services) to the obtuse (the author repeatedly pointing out that he doesn't "drink and never has") to the downright banal (his belief that the black beret is "the most useless piece of headgear ever invented"). Readers expecting a consistent theme will instead find a disturbing religious undercurrent that can be interpreted as nothing less than a surreptitious attempt by the author to proselytize his faith.
Even more disturbing, however, was the complete dissociation of his observations and efforts from the tactical situation in Nineveh province.Read more ›
The author, Wayne Bowen, is a history professor at a university in Arkansas who happens to also be a major in the Army Reserve. In 2004 he was sent to Iraq for a year, and his diary became this book. Most of what we hear about Iraq either comes from scholars and pundits in America (who have spent little, if any, time in Iraq), or from soldiers on the ground in Iraq (who don't have a deep understanding of Iraqi history and culture). As a history professor and a soldier, Bowen is able to understand both the history and culture of Iraq on an abstract level _and_ witness what life for real Iraqis is like.
As a result, this book is indispensible for the people running the United States -- and yes, that includes the voters too! You won't find a lot of exciting battles in this book, because Bowen was stationed in Mosul after the conquest. What you will find is a picture of what it's like to _rebuild_ Iraq after the war. And it's _this_ project that the American voters need to understand in order to know what we should do in Iraq in 2008 and beyond.
Some of the stories in the book are utterly tragic. Major Bowen spent a lot of time overseeing the rebuilding of schools and colleges in Mosul -- making sure that the Kurds were allowed to attend school -- making sure that libraries are stocked with books despite the carnage of war and the omnipresent threat of violence. The army relied on Iraqi translators to get their work done -- and therefore the terrorists targeted these translators as "collaborators".Read more ›
Major Bowen was one fo the officers working in the North. In this book he talks about the nationbuilding efforts in that area during 2004. In short, this is the way that the Bush Administration and the Army believed, or perhaps 'hoped' would be a better word, that the whole country would go.
This is not to say that the work in the North was easy. The civilian infrastructure had been completely ignored by Saddam Hussein's government and basically had to be built from stratch. This included schools, reconstruction, digging wells, roads, power plants.
Fortunately what it did not include was the thousand year old struggle about who was to succeed Mohammad that is the basis of the Sunni/Shiite fight.
It's good to have a little bit of light showing in what appears to be a long tunnel.
I found this book completely approachable and engaging, have recommended it to several friends, and plan on incorporating information I've learned from it when teaching future courses. This work assumes that the reader is an intelligent layperson, not a war buff or scholar on the region. It would make an especially good supplementary text for an advanced high school class or a freshman/sophomore class.