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Publisher Description

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title

From a State Department insider, the first account of our blundering efforts to rebuild Iraq—a shocking and rollicking true-life tale of Americans abroad

Charged with rebuilding Iraq, would you spend taxpayer money on a sports mural in Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhood to promote reconciliation through art? How about an isolated milk factory that cannot get its milk to market? Or a pastry class training women to open cafés on bombed-out streets without water or electricity?

According to Peter Van Buren, we bought all these projects and more in the most expensive hearts-and-minds campaign since the Marshall Plan. We Meant Well is his eyewitness account of the civilian side of the surge—that surreal and bollixed attempt to defeat terrorism and win over Iraqis by reconstructing the world we had just destroyed. Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic mission, Van Buren details, with laser-like irony, his yearlong encounter with pointless projects, bureaucratic fumbling, overwhelmed soldiers, and oblivious administrators secluded in the world's largest embassy, who fail to realize that you can't rebuild a country without first picking up the trash.

Darkly funny while deadly serious, We Meant Well is a tragicomic voyage of ineptitude and corruption that leaves its writer—and readers—appalled and disillusioned but wiser.

Politics & Current Events
September 27
Henry Holt and Co.

Customer Reviews

LiberalHednod ,

Hard to put down...sunlight in a over lighted dark desert

If it's made up....well, it's a very entertaining book.
It it's partially made up....it's still a must read.
If it's all true...what a tragedy, for Iraq and what most of us
Thought we were doing.
I keep hearing about for our soldiers, it's about the soldier
To your left and right, but that did not start this...ambitious careless people did and left them to clean it up as if they were
Janitors with a bucket of sawdust tidying up after a sick

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