NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • National Book Award Finalist • This "eyewitness history of the first order ... should be read by anyone who wants to understand how things went so badly wrong in Iraq” (The New York Times Book Review).
The Green Zone, Baghdad, Iraq, 2003: in this walled-off compound of swimming pools and luxurious amenities, Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority set out to fashion a new, democratic Iraq. Staffed by idealistic aides chosen primarily for their views on issues such as abortion and capital punishment, the CPA spent the crucial first year of occupation pursuing goals that had little to do with the immediate needs of a postwar nation: flat taxes instead of electricity and deregulated health care instead of emergency medical supplies.
In this acclaimed firsthand account, the former Baghdad bureau chief of The Washington Post gives us an intimate portrait of life inside this Oz-like bubble, which continued unaffected by the growing mayhem outside. This is a quietly devastating tale of imperial folly, and the definitive history of those early days when things went irrevocably wrong in Iraq.
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.
A year in the Bush/Bremer lunatic asylum of Iraq
Care to know more about the incompetence, stupidity, blindness and hubris of the Iraq war? Want learn more about the utter idiocy of Bremer, Wolfowitz, Doug Feith and the rest of the confederacy of imbeciles who totally screwed up the invasion and occupation? This is the book for you. Without diatribe or attack, it calmly and vividly paints a picture of such utter willful ignorance and chauvinism that if you hated Bush and his cronies before, you'll despise them after.
An alternative title for the book could have been A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES......
A stunning and in-depth look at the complexity of trying to establish democracy in a country and region that inherently doesn't understand the concept! Made me realize how fortunate we are in the US that, as a nation, we have accepted the notion. Because, as this book illustrates, unless the notion of democracy is willfully and voluntarily accepted, even the best intentions of good willed people will go unfulfilled. This is a great book!