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Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq Paperback – Unabridged, 4 May 2007
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`Bush, Blair and the other coalition leaders should read this - one of The
Times Top Ten Books of 2006 - and weep. It is as good as Evelyn Waugh's
Scoop, but this is fact, not fiction. With a fine eye for the barmy and the
bizarre and in crisp, clear prose, Stewart chronicles the waste, the farce
and the tragedy.'
-- The Times
`His conclusion . . . seems depressing, but nobody has done more than
Stewart in this compelling and brilliantly written book to provide insight
into the problems facing this devastated country.' -- Sunday Times - Pick of the Week
`Stewart tells his story well, with a great eye for detail and a
necessarily dark sense of humour, and his book is a timely corrective for
anyone who thinks they understand what's going on in Iraq - or that we can
possibly control it.' -- Daily Telegraph
'Engaging, practical scholarship.' -- The Herald
'Rory Stewart describes people's motives with perception and wit.' -- Sunday Telegraph
'This is traveling at its hardest and travel-writing at its best'
-- David Gilmour
'will endure as a classic' -- Independent
'The best book by far to come out of the Iraq mess' Sunday HeraldSee all Product description
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I understand Rory Stewart is now MP for Cumbria, he should have a senior role in the Government where his unique expertise can be fully used.
Following in the best tradition of Winston Churchill and T E Lawrence, Stewart is evidently not just a administrator, but also both a leader and do-er, an entertaining writer, and an insightful analyst. His memoir is, by turns:
* Inspiring, describing those who strove to improve and reform Iraq, in many cases risking and even losing their lives in the process,
* Shocking, describing acts of repression and violence, and also when describing the atrocious incompetence and cowardice of the Italian military,
* Intriguing, as Stewart describes scheming Iraqi politicians who could have given lessons to Nicolo Machiavelli,
* Thought-provoking, particularly in the final reflections about which interventions succeeded, and how many failed,
* Exciting, for example when describing the protracted siege of their office in Nasiriyah,
* Highly amusing. My favourite was the Islamist militant who publicly compared Stewart to Hitler, and then immediately asked him for help with an injury to the militant's penis. Stewart's descriptions of his interactions with the Bhagdad bureaucracy, with their management consultancy and PowerPoint "solutions", also made me laugh out loud.
This is a strong analysis of an important piece of the world's recent history, the latter acts of which are still playing out. It's also an insightful study into the reality of politics in an environment as complex as post-invasion Iraq, which may genuinely have no peers. The book is eminently readable, and I strongly recommend it.
The several factions were wary of each other and assasinstion awaited an Iraqui person who the others would not accept. The timetable for a planned handover to the Iraqui led elected administration was very short. Dominant Iraqui factions intended to usurp power as soon as an opportunity arose to do so. The author tells his story frankly. He is respected by the people with whom he works and by senior Iraquis although they blame everything that goes wrong on the Coallition occupation. He points out that much of what they say is true but it is the Iraquis who must decide amongst themselves what they want to do. His job is only to support them. His conclusions are interesting and well explained and not what one might expect.
The book is replete with groups suffering under a highly unhealthy defect common in Ireland since possibly 1798, where the Organisation becomes the Cause, and the Stakeholders are minimised.
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