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The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq [Paperback]

Rory Stewart
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 April 2007
In August 2003, at the age of thirty, Rory Stewart took a taxi from Jordan to Baghdad. A Farsi-speaking British diplomat who had recently completed an epic walk from Turkey to Bangladesh, he was soon appointed deputy governor of Amarah and then Nasiriyah, provinces in the remote, impoverished marsh regions of southern Iraq. He spent the next eleven months negotiating hostage releases, holding elections, and splicing together some semblance of an infrastructure for a population of millions teetering on the brink of civil war. The Prince of the Marshes tells the story of Stewart's year. As a participant he takes us inside the occupation and beyond the Green Zone, introducing us to a colorful cast of Iraqis and revealing the complexity and fragility of a society we struggle to understand. By turns funny and harrowing, moving and incisive, it amounts to a unique portrait of heroism and the tragedy that intervention inevitably courts in the modern age.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 405 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; Reprint edition (1 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780156032797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156032797
  • ASIN: 0156032791
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.6 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rory Stewart was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Malaysia. After a brief period in the British army, he joined the Foreign Office, serving in the Embassy in Indonesia and as British Representative in Montenegro, Yugoslavia. In 2002 he completed a six-thousand-mile walk from Turkey to Bangladesh. His account of crossing Afghanistan on foot shortly after the US invasion, The Places In Between, was published in 2004, drew widespread acclaim, and was shortlisted for that year's Guardian First Book Award. He was awarded an OBE in 2004 for his work in Iraq, which is recounted in his book Occupational Hazards. He now lives in Cumbria.

Product Description


"A thoroughly readable book." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rory Stewart as proconsul in Iraq 20 April 2010
This is a difficult book to review. It is the the chronicle of Rory Stewart, professional diplomat, adventurer, politician and all-round old school colonial officer. He details his efforts after his appointment as ad interim governor of the marshland province of Maysan in Iraq, with virtually unlimited powers and little or no help or information, somewhat like a Roman proconsul in a hostile province. Few people have been in anything remotely like this sort of position, so it is hard to find a standard to judge the book by.

"The Prince of the Marshes" is certainly a very informative book. It is astonishingly detailed in every aspect of the rule of Iraq in the early years of the occupation after the 2003 war, from the local tribal and religious leaders and their individual proclivities to the boardroom discussions with Paul Bremer. One gets a sense he leaves very little out that he was permitted to put in (likely security reasons proscribe some information). It is to some degree also a personal book, although not as much as his travelogue of Afghanistan in 2002, "The Places in Between" (The Places In Between), but given the more formal and impersonal nature of his job in Iraq that should come as no surprise. It is an intriguing and at times exciting book also. Stewart's deft attempts to engage with the many different power players in Maysan and their constantly shifting contradictory interests and alliances, and the sense of total disinformation and opacity of politics in Iraq, make for fascinating reading. His survival of various mob riots and militia offensives against his office are an extra thrilling diversion in between, although I'm sure Stewart at the time would have preferred it differently.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Before you buy this book - read the following 24 Feb 2008
I bought this book along with 'Occupational Hazards'. I had looked carefully at both descriptions and although I was suspicious because the titles are so similar - since they had different ISBNs - I ordered both. The content of both books is identical. Please don't make the mistake I did - you only need one of these. Haven't read it yet so can't review it. I filled in the stars because I had to.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable 4 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Describing one year in the life of a coalition administrator in Iraq, this book is an insightful, informed and honest account of the complexities of nation building - complexities totally unplanned for by Bush and co. when they decided to invade.

Stewart writes well, and we see that though there are still immense problems, small improvements can be achieved through compromise, conciliation, an understanding of the local people and politics, and a smattering of Arabic. Stewart is now an MP in the UK, and I wish there were more like him in the government: intelligent and resourceful, and in the job to do something for the people, rather than self aggrandisement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Do read Prince of Marshes! 7 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very well written account of Rory Stewart's time in Iraq and the region. A very good read for everyone!
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