Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone

Thương hiệu: Rajiv Chandrasekaran
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Thông số sản phẩm
Publisher
Knopf; First Edition (September 19, 2006)
Language
English
Hardcover
336 pages
ISBN-10
1400044871
ISBN-13
978-1400044870
Item Weight
1.45 pounds
Dimensions
5.96 x 1.32 x 9.57 inches
Best Sellers Rank
#774,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)#410 in Iraq History (Books)#868 in Iraq War History (Books)#1,437 in Middle Eastern Politics
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4.6 out of 5 stars404Reviews
Thông tin sản phẩm Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
Thương hiệu Rajiv Chandrasekaran là cái tên nổi tiếng được rất nhiều khách hàng trên thế giới chọn lựa. Với kiểu dáng đẹp mắt, sang trọng, sản phẩm Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone là sự lựa chọn hoàn hảo nếu bạn đang tìm mua một món Politics & Government cho riêng mình.
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Product Description

An unprecedented account of life in Baghdad’s Green Zone, a walled-off enclave of towering plants, posh villas, and sparkling swimming pools that was the headquarters for the American occupation of Iraq.

The Washington Post’s former Baghdad bureau chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran takes us with him into the Zone: into a bubble, cut off from wartime realities, where the task of reconstructing a devastated nation competed with the distractions of a Little America—a half-dozen bars stocked with cold beer, a disco where women showed up in hot pants, a movie theater that screened shoot-’em-up films, an all-you-could-eat buffet piled high with pork, a shopping mall that sold pornographic movies, a parking lot filled with shiny new SUVs, and a snappy dry-cleaning service—much of it run by Halliburton. Most Iraqis were barred from entering the Emerald City for fear they would blow it up.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews and internal documents, Chandrasekaran tells the story of the people and ideas that inhabited the Green Zone during the occupation, from the imperial viceroy L. Paul Bremer III to the fleet of twentysomethings hired to implement the idea that Americans could build a Jeffersonian democracy in an embattled Middle Eastern country.

In the vacuum of postwar planning, Bremer ignores what Iraqis tell him they want or need and instead pursues irrelevant neoconservative solutions—a flat tax, a sell-off of Iraqi government assets, and an end to food rationing. His underlings spend their days drawing up pie-in-the-sky policies, among them a new traffic code and a law protecting microchip designs, instead of rebuilding looted buildings and restoring electricity production. His almost comic initiatives anger the locals and help fuel the insurgency.

Chandrasekaran details Bernard Kerik’s ludicrous attempt to train the Iraqi police and brings to light lesser known but typical travesties: the case of the twenty-four-year-old who had never worked in finance put in charge of reestablishing Baghdad’s stock exchange; a contractor with no previous experience paid millions to guard a closed airport; a State Department employee forced to bribe Americans to enlist their help in preventing Iraqi weapons scientists from defecting to Iran; Americans willing to serve in Iraq screened by White House officials for their views on Roe v. Wade; people with prior expertise in the Middle East excluded in favor of lesser-qualified Republican Party loyalists. Finally, he describes Bremer’s ignominious departure in 2004, fleeing secretly in a helicopter two days ahead of schedule.

This is a startling portrait of an Oz-like place where a vital aspect of our government’s folly in Iraq played out. It is a book certain to be talked about for years to come.

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 meal—a 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.
Copyright © 2006

From Bookmarks Magazine

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, assistant managing editor of the Washington Post and its former Baghdad bureau chief, knows the landscape in Iraq as well as anyone, having spent two years in-country as a reporter. His careful, evenhanded reportage amplifies the seriousness of the problems that America still faces in Iraq. As Adam Dunn points out, "the Iraqis don't fare much better than their occupiers" under Chandrasekaran's judicious gaze. The book covers ground similar to that of Larry Diamond's Squandered Victory (2005) and Anthony Shadid's Night Draws Near (2005), though the author's proximity to the events he reports in this "withering assessment" (Andrew Metz) separates Emerald City from the spate of books being published on the war in Iraq.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

From Booklist

It is now more than three years since American and so-called coalition forces launched the invasion of Iraq. Despite the immediate military success, the U.S. remains mired in the swamp--afraid of the consequnces of leaving yet unable to shape an acceptable reality while staying. Given the fissures in Iraqi society that our intervention revealed, perhaps the current state of violent chaos was inevitable. However, Chandrasekaran, an assistant managing editor of the WashingtonPost and the former Post bureau chief in Baghdad, maintains that shocking American arrogance and blundering during the first year of the American occupation virtually destroyed any hope of a "successful" occupation. The Green Zone was the headquarters for the American occupation in Baghdad, but like the inhabitants of the Emerald City of Oz, the Americans entrusted with the task of rebuilding and transforming Iraq lived in an isolated fantasy world divorced from the reality outside their walled compounds. This is perhaps a one-sided account, but it is still a devastating indictment of the post-invasion failures of the Bush administration. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Extraordinary . . . Indispensable . . . Full of jaw-dropping tales of the myriad large and small ways in which Bremer and his team poured fuel into the lethal cauldron that is today’s Iraq . . . [Chandrasekaran ] has a keen eye for the small detail that illuminates larger truths . . . [he] documents the way that an avalanche of unjustifiable mistakes transforms a difficult mission into an impossible one . . . Chandrasekaran does not set out to score partisan points or unveil large geopolitical lessons; he is, essentially, a reporter telling readers what he saw. Yet it is impossible to read his book without thinking about the larger implications of the story he tells.”

-Moisés Naím, The Washington Post Book World

 

“Mr. Chandrasekaran’s book, while nonfiction, is as chilling an indictment of America’s tragic cultural myopia as Graham Greene’s prescient 1955 novel of the American debacle in Indochina, “The Quiet American.”

-Frank Rich, The New York Times Op-Ed

 

“Chandrasekaran’s detail-rich reporting and firsthand, candid narrative is what sets his contribution apart [from other books about the Iraq war] and bolsters his withering assessment . . . Using nearly two years of reporting in the country for the Washington Post and an impeccable eye for the tragic and outrageous, Chandrasekaran unveils the occupation authority compound as a Middle East Oz, grossly out of touch with the harsh realities of the real Iraq . . . The book is an eye-opening tour of ineptitude, misdirection and perils of democracy-building”

-Andrew Metz, Newsday

 

“With acuity and a fine sense of the absurd, the author peels back the roof to reveal an ant heap of arrogance, ineptitude, and hayseed provincialism”

-Amanda Heller, Boston Globe

 

“A devastating indictment of the post-invasion failures of the Bush administration.”

- Jay Freeman, Booklist

 

“In Imperial Life in the Emerald City [Chandrasekaran] draws a vividly detailed portrait of the Green Zone and the Coalition Provisional Authority (which ran Iraq’s government from April 2003 to June 2004) that becomes a metaphor for the administration’s larger failings in Iraq . . . His book gives the reader a visceral–sometimes sickening–picture of how the administration and its handpicked crew bungled the first year in postwar Iraq, showing how decisions made in that period contributed to a burgeoning insurgency and growing ethnic and religious strife . . . The picture Mr. Chandrasekaran draws in these pages often reads like something out of Catch-22 or from MASH.”

- Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

 

 

“Extraordinary . . . Indispensable . . . Full of jaw-dropping tales of the myriad large and small ways in which Bremer and his team poured fuel into the lethal cauldron that is today’s Iraq . . . [Chandrasekaran ] has a keen eye for the small detail that illuminates larger truths . . . [he] documents the way that an avalanche of unjustifiable mistakes transforms a difficult mission into an impossible one . . . Chandrasekaran does not set out to score partisan points or unveil large geopolitical lessons; he is, essentially, a reporter telling readers what he saw. Yet it is impossible to read his book without thinking about the larger implications of the story he tells.”

-Moisés Naím, The Washington Post Book World

 

 

“This is a devastating account of the American occupation of Iraq. It shows how Americans arrived in Iraq full of big plans (and/or lucrative contracts) to help the country become more like the United States, but wound up living an isolated existence while the lives of Iraqis deteriorated around them. No other book has described so well what Iraq looked like and felt like in the aftermath of the invasion.”

–James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans

 

“Rajiv Chandrasekaran has not given us “another Iraq book.” He has given us a riveting tale of American misadventure. . . . He shows us American idealism and voyeurism, as well as the deadly results of American hubris. And by giving us the first full picture from inside the Green Zone, he depicts a mission doomed to failure before it had even been launched.”

–Samantha Power, author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

 

“This is a dazzling, important, and entertaining work of reportage about the American civilians who tried to remake Iraq, and about the strange, isolated city-state in Baghdad where they failed. Every American who wants to understand how and why things went so badly wrong in Iraq should read this book.”

–Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars

 

“This amazing book pulls back the curtains of deception and reveals in stunning fashion what really went on inside the Emerald City in the crucial year after the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Chandrasekaran’s reporting is vivid and relentless as he documents the mix of idealism, confidence, energy, hubris, political miscalculation, cultural blindness, and fantastical thinking of those who came to save Iraq yet made a difficult situation worse.”

–David Maraniss, author of They Marched Into Sunlight

 

“An extraordinarily vivid and compelling anatomy of a fiasco. Imperial Life in the Emerald City is an indispensable saga of how the American liberation of Iraq turned to chaos, calamity, and civil war. Chandrasekaran takes us inside Baghdad’s Green Zone as no one else has.”

–Rick Atkinson, author of The Long Gray Line

About the Author

Rajiv Chandrasekaran is an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post, where he has worked since 1994. He previously served the Post as a bureau chief in Baghdad, Cairo, and Southeast Asia, and as a correspondent covering the war in Afghanistan. He recently completed a term as journalist-in-residence at the International Reporting Project at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, and was a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. He lives in Washington, D.C.

From The Washington Post

When President Bush announced in May 2003 that he was appointing L. Paul Bremer as the top U.S. civilian official in Iraq, I received an e-mail from one of his former business colleagues: "I just heard that Jerry [Bremer's nickname] will be running Iraq. And the Iraqis thought that the worst we could do was to bomb them."

At the time, I just smiled and dismissed the message. Three years later, Rajiv Chandrasekaran's extraordinary book made me realize how tragically prescient that e-mail had been. Imperial Life in the Emerald City is full of jaw-dropping tales of the myriad large and small ways in which Bremer and his team poured fuel into the lethal cauldron that is today's Iraq. He was not alone and had many eager and powerful partners in Washington, Baghdad and elsewhere. Still, by reporting on daily life and decision making inside the Green Zone, the cloistered compound that housed Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Chandrasekaran shows how incomplete our conventional wisdom is about what went wrong in Iraq.

That common wisdom holds that while the decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein is still open to debate, American mismanagement of the country after the invasion is not. Even the Bush administration's staunchest supporters now accept that "mistakes were made" and admit that, for example, dismantling the Iraqi army and driving out officials tied to the old dictatorship's Baath Party (both policies that Bremer championed) were bad ideas. But often implicit in this dominant interpretation is a complacent understanding, even a justification, of U.S. mistakes made during the occupation. After all, goes the thinking, ethnic divisions, suicidal Islamist fanatics, decades of oppression and decay, and all sorts of other obstacles conspired against the success of the bold American enterprise.

It is hard to hold that view after reading this book. Chandrasekaran, now an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post, was The Post's Baghdad bureau chief in 2003-04 and has a keen eye for the small detail that illuminates larger truths. He clearly suggests that the self-inflicted wounds created by CPA ineptitude, arrogance and ignorance were far from inevitable. Nor, he shows, were they minor causes of the mess the United States faces today in Iraq. Imperial Life in the Emerald City documents the way that an avalanche of unjustifiable mistakes transformed a difficult mission into an impossible one.

Take, for example, the story of Frederick M. Burkle Jr., a Navy reserve officer and physician with two Bronze Stars whom a colleague describes as "the single most talented and experienced post-conflict health specialist working for the United States government." Burkle was ousted a week after Baghdad's liberation because, he was told by his superiors, the White House preferred to have a Bush "loyalist" in charge of health matters in Iraq. Burkle was replaced (fully two months later) by James K. Haveman Jr., a social worker whose experience as the community-health director for Michigan's former Republican governor, John Engler, had followed a stint running "a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan that urged pregnant women not to have abortions." Haveman had also traveled widely "in his capacity as a director of International Aid, a faith-based relief organization that provided health care while promoting Christianity in the developing world." (That pro-life stance was not uncommon in the CPA: Two staffers report being asked during their job interviews if they supported the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling.) Chandrasekaran's rendition of Haveman's performance in Iraq makes for unnerving reading: the launch of an antismoking campaign while hospitals lacked pain killers; the emphasis on preventive medicine in a country ravaged by a bloody insurgency; an attempt to refashion Iraq's health care system with a U.S.-inspired model based on private providers, co-payments and primary care while newborns routinely died for lack of incubators.

Or take the case of Capt. John Smathers, a reservist and personal-injury lawyer charged with bringing some order to the chaotic traffic jams that ensued after U.S. authorities eliminated all import duties and the country was flooded by imported used cars. The solution? Download Maryland's motor-vehicle code from the Internet, translate it into Arabic and, after much haggling and revision, have Bremer sign it into law. CPA Order 86 included provisions such as, "Pedestrians walking during darkness or cloudy weather shall wear light or reflective clothing."

Micromanaging and emulating U.S. institutions was also the instinct of Jay Hallen, the clueless 24-year-old in charge of reopening the Baghdad stock market. His approach was to create one patterned after the New York Stock Exchange. (No, it didn't work.) Nor was Hallen the only inexperienced twentysomething CPA staffer given responsibilities for which he was utterly unprepared. Six of the "ten young gofers" that the CPA had requested from the Pentagon to handle minor administrative tasks found themselves managing Iraq's $13-billion budget. Where did the Pentagon recruit them? From the Heritage Foundation; they had sent their resumes there, looking for work in that conservative think tank.

When so much money is combined with organizational chaos, a state of emergency and the expectation that powerful friends in Washington would provide any needed cover, corruption is inevitable. Sure enough, Chandrasekaran offers tales of corruption among American contractors that read like dispatches from a kleptocratic banana republic.

Readers should avoid the temptation to dismiss Imperial Life in the Emerald City as yet another book documenting America's misadventures in Iraq. That of course it is, but the book offers more than a dispatch from the trenches. Chandrasekaran does not set out to score partisan points or unveil large geopolitical lessons; he is, essentially, a reporter telling readers what he saw. Yet it is impossible to read his book without thinking about the larger implications of the story he tells.

What caused the massive collapse of common sense that doomed the CPA and undermined the U.S. gamble in Iraq? That is the question that every page tacitly forces on the reader. American ingenuity, pragmatism and practical approaches to problem-solving are legendary. But Chandrasekaran shows that what reigned in Iraq was massive incompetence, patently unfeasible schemes, naive expectations and arrogance fueled by ignorance. His book methodically documents the baffling ineptitude that dominated U.S. attempts to influence Iraq's fiendish politics, rebuild the electrical grid, privatize the economy, run the oil industry, recruit expert staff or instill a modicum of normalcy to the lives of Iraqis. Nor are the book's complaints Monday-morning quarterbacking. The CPA's failings caused widespread grumbling at the time. Chandrasekaran tells of a message board on which some Marines had drawn a gravestone inscribed with the words "COMMON SENSE." The caption underneath it read: "Killed by the CPA."

Why? What happened? Chandrasekaran does not try to answer these questions directly. But his indispensable book offers powerful hints as to what the likely answers are. Bremer's regency suffered from too much unaccountable political power, too much carelessly spent money and too many ideological certitudes. Those conditions allowed incompetence, petty partisanship, patronage, nepotism and corruption to thrive. That is why "mistakes were made" -- and Chandrasekaran gets us away from that passive-voice formulation to show who, precisely, made them. Those mistakes go a long way toward explaining why success in Iraq is proving so tragically elusive.

Reviewed by Moisés Naím
Copyright 2006, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

 

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