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Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone by [Chandrasekaran, Rajiv]
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Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Length: 372 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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'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... reads like something out of "Catch-22"' New York Times 'A riveting tale of American misadventure...a mission doomed to failure before it had even been launched' Samantha Power, author of 'A Problem from Hell' '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' Washington Post 'An indispensable saga of how the American liberation of Iraq turned to chaos, calamity, and civil war' Rick Atkinson, author of 'An Army at Dawn'

Simon Jenkins, Sunday Times

`Chandrasekaran...watched the policy bottom-up from within and
beyond the Green Zone. The result is jaw-dropping.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1272 KB
  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (7 Sept. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0034C8LZC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #371,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
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. Chandrasekaran identifies key mistakes made by the CPA and profiles some of the main figures, but also delves into the experiences of the lower-level staffers who made up the bulk of the CPA. This book is an important addition to the public's knowledge about America's place in Iraq.

Written from a first person perspective, the narrative is smooth and flowing, though it does take a while to pick up. Interspersed with the chapters on the CPA's efforts are vignettes on life inside the Green Zone. Some are amusing, some identify the political influences of the staffers, and many address some of the more bizarre decisions made. During the course of the narrative, the author identifies several problems that hindered the CPA's goal of remaking Iraq. First, little post-war planning was done by the DoD and Department of State, and when it came to plan, political tensions dominated. Second, Bremer's dismissal of the Iraqi Army created a ready-made force of trained, but unemployed soldiers who could have become the foundation of a new Iraqi Army and Police, but instead joined the religious militias or the insurgency. Third, those chosen to staff the CPA were often very young with little or no experience; many were chosen based on their political affiliations. Eager to go to Iraq out of patriotism and adventure, most only stayed 3-4 months, making it increasingly difficult to plan and execute the rebuilding program.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not only a good study, it is a rare study a major feature of the war in Iraq, the Green Zone and its workings. I was constantly amazed by the author's knowledge of detail as demonstrated in the descriptions of the Green Zone, its personnel and the streets of Baghdad outside. I felt privileged to read this record of that particular place and time and the war that raged there. I felt that there were two deficiencies that detracted somewhat. For me, the author's somewhat imperfect command of the English language obscures the flow somewhat., and second, the author's unsupportive, rather satirical tendency to be dismissal of the American effort, comes across as somewhat out of place.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reading the inside story of the arrogance, ignorance and hubris that was the occupation of Iraq should have been a painful experience yet the brilliance of this book is that it isn't. Truly black humour that stops being funny when you keep remembering it's a true story. It ought to be compulsory reading for politicians with imperial ambitions.
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As someone who grew adoring Joseph Heller's great World War Two satire, Catch-22, I never thought the day would come when I read a real life account of how the misguided and naive led an occupation effort. That day finally came last week when my postman brought me Rajiv Chanrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City.
This is an impeccably detailed and revelatory account of the US occupation of Iraq and how the seeds of disaster were sown.

Rajiv Chanrasekaran was the Washington Post's man on the ground in Baghdad in the days leading up to and immediately after the US-led invasion, so has an insight of how pallid life was under Saddam Hussein and how timorous the Iraqi people had become. He is also a rare thing among American journalists working in the daily press out there: a man who asks searching questions of his country and his countrymen's motivations.

Imperial Life is strongest when telling the story of the CPA staffers living in the 'Green Zone', a bubble, supplied with trash food and trash information about the country they occupy. Staffers inherently believe they are doing the right thing, that they have a sense of mission to democratize Iraq and build it according to their political ideals. Of course, when set against the backdrop of a humanitarian disaster, an insurgency, and without the blank cheques needed to bring such changes they never stand a chance of succeeding.

What is perhaps most depressing, beyond the human cost of occupation, is that the corruption and stupidity among most of the American staffers was not as prevalent as one would first think.
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Format: Paperback
There are many impressive stories in this account of how the American invasion and occupation of Iraq went so disastrously wrong in such a short period of time. The most striking aspects are from inside the encased compound which housed the staff of the US administration:
Saddam Hussein's Baghdad palace seemed to take on the aspect of a college campus, with staff drinking beer, eating junk food and `pork', lazing by the pool, reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq to further their knowledge, protected from the ever present and increasing violence and lawlessness around them, in a Baghdad without currency, media or power.
The author systematically reports on how the republican neo-cans picked for their loyalty to W. Bush over any experience
or knowledge of the area and language failed on every level to re-establish any kind of order within the country they had just occupied. I found this account to be a brilliant piece of old-fashioned reportage that at times read like a surreal farce. It was a privilege to have read it so soon after the events described.
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