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A Better Basra Paperback – 16 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: lulu.com (16 Aug 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1447714873
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447714873
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,855,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Humorous and down to earth insight into how a spirited civilian mother matures into a seasoned professional on the military front line" --Dominic Asquith CMG, former British Ambassador to Iraq

"A tale of danger, loss and of love at the nadir of British fortunes in Iraq - but overwhelmingly an account of one woman's capacity for humanity in all its depth and colour, richly and originally observed, elegantly and movingly told" --Mark Etherington CBE, former Governor of Wasit Provence, Iraq

"... brings back fond (and not so fond) memories..." --John Humphrys, author, journalist, BBC broadcaster

"A refreshing and enjoyable read in a genre normally swamped with derring-do and self-justification. This a witty and thought-provoking vignette of a mission founded on misconceptions and grand ambitions - and not much thought about the practicalities of life in a tin can in the middle of a war zone. It takes a middle-aged, middle-class mum from middle England to cast a cold eye, honed through years of detecting homework fraud and the body language of evasion, on Britain's grand vision for Basra in the wake of a controversial and unpopular war. A better Basra has yet to be built and it is honest appraisals of daily practices and interactions at this critical moment in Iraq's history that will help perhaps to explain why the "Democracy Project" is still a work in progress." --Jacky Sutton, international development expert and former UN Iraq staff member

"Journalist, diplomat, artist, mother, Caroline Jaine brings a unique sensitivity to her review of life in Basra during the British occupation of Iraq. Fully conscious of her own journey from idealism to cynicism to resignation, Caroline nevertheless conveys the value of wanting to `make a difference' in a theatre of war. The collision between the hard military values of the US grunts and the soft civilian values of the British volunteers does much to explain why, despite extraordinary efforts and "stubborn optimism" so little good news emerged from the area. Add to that the corrosive effect of inadequate journalism on our side and disinformation on the other and we begin to grasp the frustration she and others suffered as they grappled with `Strategy Better Basra'. Even so Caroline leaves us with a small kernel of hope: a sense that enough good people - inside and outside Iraq - care about Basra enough to make a return to normality possible, one day"
--Indra Adnan, Founder, Soft Power Network / The Downing Street Project

From the Publisher

A Better Basra will be officially launched by Lord Ahmed of Rotherham at the House of Lords in November. The author has requested a seminar to explore whether Basra is in fact Better. Several high profile speakers will give their thoughts. Here is what Lord Ahmed has said about Caroline's book:

"It becomes very easy to sympathise with Caroline Jaine's account of her time in Iraq working for the FCO. Her book concentrates on her struggles with work, friends, family and sometimes herself. Caroline establishes firm ground with her readers by opening up, describing her initial reactions to terrorism prior to leaving for Iraq, her disillusionment towards politics and her desire to help out with a war that she felt frustrated towards. These aspects of her account were coupled with personal anecdotes from her life at the time, such as her friends at home, who Caroline later stays in touch with throughout her time in Iraq. Caroline's light hearted way of describing her time seems to pull readers in to the pod she was living in at the time, the blazing desert heat, the tight cornered smoking room, in which she released the stresses of every day life. Caroline accurately depicts life as one of the few women at her military base, as well as one of the few mothers. Her insight on how difficult living abroad can be under such stressful conditions with limited contact with your children makes this story so much more personable. And of course, Caroline's description of the situation of Iraq on the group is profound and eye opening. A Better Basra describes with great detail the daily tears, sweats and laughter that men and women face in war zones. Her references to those times when she felt the fear of bombings and fire fights gives Caroline's work the grounding in reality. She delivers to readers a comforting voice of hope for a "Better Basra".


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Format: Paperback
This book exudes bravery, despite the author's assertions that she was not at all brave. There are plenty of books about experiences in Iraq, but almost all are from or about the military participants, or by senior diplomats. This very human story highlights the vital role that non-military personnel play in re-building a country or a society in the aftermath of conflict, how little they or their contribution are understood, and how ill-prepared they are by a machine (the military) that neither understands them not appreciates them. Finally, this book is a damning commentary of Britain's total lack of a strategy for Iraq. It deserves to be very widely read, and hopefully will be. Well done Caroline for such bravery.
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By cjaine on 14 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback
"Humorous and down to earth insight into how a spirited civilian mother matures into a seasoned professional on the military front line"
- Dominic Asquith CMG, former British Ambassador to Iraq

"A tale of danger, loss and of love at the nadir of British fortunes in Iraq - but overwhelmingly an account of one woman's capacity for humanity in all its depth and colour, richly and originally observed, elegantly and movingly told".
- Mark Etherington CBE, former Governor of Wasit Provence, Iraq

"... brings back fond (and not so fond) memories..."
- John Humphrys, author, journalist, broadcaster

"A refreshing and enjoyable read in a genre normally swamped with derring-do and self-justification. This a witty and thought-provoking vignette of a mission founded on misconceptions and grand ambitions - and not much thought about the practicalities of life in a tin can in the middle of a war zone. It takes a middle-aged, middle-class mum from middle England to cast a cold eye, honed through years of detecting homework fraud and the body language of evasion, on Britain's grand vision for Basra in the wake of a controversial and unpopular war. A better Basra has yet to be built and it is honest appraisals of daily practices and interactions at this critical moment in Iraq's history that will help perhaps to explain why the "Democracy Project" is still a work in progress." - Jacky Sutton, international development expert and former UN Iraq staff member

"Journalist, diplomat, artist, mother, Caroline Jaine brings a unique sensitivity to her review of life in Basra during the British occupation of Iraq.
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