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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful glimpse into the world of the CPA in Baghdad...
In recent months a deluge of books regarding the war in Iraq have hit the shelves. Few, however, stand out for their impartiality and refusal to pass judgement. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran is one of those books, offering a well-written and fascinating narrative of the Americans who came to Iraq after the war...
Published on 11 Oct 2006 by A. G. Corwin

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3.0 out of 5 stars A good book that raises more questions than it answers
This well written book is in part sad and in part entertaining, but in no way does it give the necessary background information to the Iraq fiasco. It is a sort of reality TV "crash as it happens" without much or any context at all.

The kind of questions that it raises but doesn't answer are:

Did the US really invade Iraq by mistake (No WMD)...
Published 8 months ago by Baraniecki Mark Stuart


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Insight, 4 April 2010
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This review is from: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone (Paperback)
I found this a great book and well worth the read, I'd strongly recommend it if you've got as far as reading reviews. It should be noted that this is not a novel, it's a recouting of 'facts' based on the authors experience. Those experiences show how the American political machine drove the USA done a literal dead end in Iraq. While I've never been the greatest fan of American foreign policy, and have sometimes questioned America's understanding of activities outside their own borders, the author highlighted that experienced people were ready, willing and able to do the job, but were excluded for political reasons. Page after page I was amazed at the way decisions were made and how talented people were excluded because they didn't tow the party line. This is an eye opener worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Though provoking, 6 April 2008
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This review is from: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone (Paperback)
Rajiv Chandrasekarans's fine book delves into the madness of the Green Zone, the American civilian reconstructions headquarters. Chapter by chapter he outlines the mistakes, incompetence and arrogance of the (Bush/Republican party) US invasion and the failed attempts to impose US "values" on a deeply divided, war torn, complex and damaged nation.
Personable and engaging this is a must read for anyone interested in the Iraq invasion, middle eastern affairs or US politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing insight to Iraq but also working with Americans, 20 Mar 2008
This book is a fantastic read - hard to put down from an entertainment point of view. It's quite incredible to get the inside track on how the reconstruction of Iraq was mis-managed, but more generally I found this really useful as an insight (for British managers) into how Americans do business. I work for a US multinational, and reading this book was a step change for me in understanding the corporate politics that I live with every day. Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars That's what they did! from the author of 'The Boys From Baghdad', 1 Aug 2007
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Simon Low (No longer Devils Island) - See all my reviews
A good read. Having served out there and often found myself in the HQ for the CPA I now know from reading this highly informative 'The bigger picture, what the head sheds got up to' book that my observations were bang on! Definately one for your,'Gentlemen, hostilities are over in Iraq!!!' shelf.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality Check, 14 Feb 2009
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This review is from: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone (Paperback)
Unless one is exposed to truth( whether reading books such as this one, being there on the ground to expose first hand the realities of the tragedy, or is able to access untainted mass media)the true story of Iraq will never be known. What has happened is exactly what GW Bush and his adminisdtration have promised: "bomb Iraq into the stone age". Great spread of democracy!!! I have seen thru the eyes of the author what has happened to the innocent people of Iraq. It is worth every penny to acquire and read. Thank you.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good book that raises more questions than it answers, 27 July 2013
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Baraniecki Mark Stuart (Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone (Paperback)
This well written book is in part sad and in part entertaining, but in no way does it give the necessary background information to the Iraq fiasco. It is a sort of reality TV "crash as it happens" without much or any context at all.

The kind of questions that it raises but doesn't answer are:

Did the US really invade Iraq by mistake (No WMD)?

Why has this unbelievable error (?) not been investigated by Congress?

What happened to the US intelligence services to get it so wrong?

When no WMD were found how was the story so easily switched to "Building Democracy"?

Why was no money or manpower seriously devoted rebuilding Iraq?

Why does the American public so nonchalantly accept torture and kidnapping by its government and the mass removal of its right to privacy?

Why was Chalabi continuously promoted despite having no support among the Iraqi people?

Some "perhaps" answers that Chandrasekaran hints at in the book are that the whole rebuilding project was designed to fail (i.e. it was only a publicity exercise by the US government with no real interest in rebuilding). A good illustration of this on P.131 was the Corliss, Jackson and Carney meeting (tasked with privatizing Iraqi state industries) with German specialists to draw on their experience of the privatization of East German industry. The Germans told them that they had 8000 people working on the project and one of them asked, "How many do you guys have?" Corliss replied that, "You're looking at all of them" (i.e. three people).

The US government delegated after war planning to Douglas Feith, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy who also handled the so called "Office of Special Plans" which mined intelligence reports for data to make the case that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and was in cahoots with Al Queda.

The book doesn't say it but this is the same Douglas Feith who co-authored a 1996 paper entitled "A Clean Break, A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" published by an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. The principal idea was to foment war in the Middle East and consequently destabilize Israel's enemies.

The policy was adopted by the Israeli pro-settler right wing and Jewish activists in and around the Clinton and Bush administrations such as Richard Perle, David Wurmser and Feith himself (who all helped produce the original document). They identified as targets Iraq, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, so why should Feith want to rebuild Iraq after it had been successfully destroyed?

There's more on this in Sniegoski's remarkable book, "The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel" which can usefully be read together with this one to maybe start to understand what was going on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Smartest Guys in the Palace, 9 July 2013
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M. Davies "ritester" (Brussels) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone (Paperback)
I bought it on the basis that it was an inspiration for the film 'Green Zone' but it turned to be far more than that.
The film itself was so-so and shows what Hollywood can do to serious subjects while HBO & Co.are left to do the serious drama these days.

The book is well researched and written although the degree of isolation of these mandarins starts to become repetitive towards the end. By the time of the 'handover' to the Iraqis most of these executives had realised things were going wrong from day -180 but it seems the Viceroy will continue to believe they delivered democracy to another liberated country country - job well done.

It's purely a coincidence I was reading this book as I started to watch 'Oliver Stone's Untold History of the US' but there's such a resonance in the two subjects that I would recommend them both to you whether you are a hawk or a dove.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Insight!, 26 July 2011
The book provides an excellent insight into the invasion of Iraq. The manner in which the author narrates his experience is commendable. It also shows where the coalition failed and how it could have all been different. Would recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Arrogance and Insanity, 5 Jan 2009
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This review is from: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone (Paperback)
I'd just taken the last sip from my bottle of Arrogant [...]Ale, as I put this book down (really). On the back of the bottle just before I tossed it in the trash I noticed there was a short essay; it addresses complacency. One line caught my attention: 'We grow up thinking that the ability to become complacent is the equivalence of success in life.'

That Chandrasekaran (try saying that after a few ales), penned Imperial Life without resorting to rhetorical disgust and sarcasm is a credit to his journalistic instincts. It is a masterful work that ties in succinctly the wisdom addressed on that bottle of beer.
Correct me if I am wrong but the expression 'snafu' originates from the wry humor of the US military. It seems clear that we are in the throes of the Mother of All Snafus.

Mr. Paul Bremer, the mastabatory hand of the US President in Iraq, was a bully boy to the often more sensible subordinates that he invariably countermanded. Bremer Preferred little people to engage big issues when bigger people should have as long as the little people were politically connected, in good standing Republicans.
While Bremer plotted in the Emerald City you could imagine Mr. Rogers intoning "It's a Wonderful Day In The Neighborhood" as the fantasy of creating Iraq in America's image became more convoluted.

He was rebuilding a nation that would have ZIP codes, telephone area codes, A Highway Code, proportional representation, and I'm sure when he was done the largest apple pie factory in the world.

Our President placed his vision of a nascent US-style democracy in the Middle East in the hands of people who reflected his predominate personality traits: The 'Stay the course' president prefers stubbornness to thoughtfulness when it comes to policy, and this is amply reflected in his choice of Bremer.

I never bought the argument that we went into Iraq to make GWB and his supporters more money (although they clearly did). I really think he wanted to smack down a deviant and dangerous leader in that region and start something far more 'fun.' He didn't, and we should acknowledge that. The author could have prefaced virtually every page with "you're not gonna believe this but..." such is the litany of inanities and calamities we have put into motion in Iraq.

Bush failed, and while he bogs the US military down in a 'country' that yearns to divide along religious and ethnic lines, nations that pose a real threat see the US and the 'Coalition of the Willing' as limp and impotent and are sitting like vultures waiting to feed upon the kill.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, if informative, 15 Jun 2007
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There are two depressing aspects to this book -

1) The outrageous, criminal, bone-head incompetence of those trying to "reconstruct" Iraq and their venal nepotism.

2) None of those people are ever going to go to jail.

We gotta wake up - The US (at least under its current president, George W) - is a dangerous force to have around. As one comment said (I am pleased to say, apparently in the British sector) - "Yee-Ha!!! is not a foreign policy"
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Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Paperback - 3 Mar 2008)
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