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Red Zone: Five Bloody Years in Baghdad Paperback – 17 Mar 2008
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A brilliant, first-hand account of the madness and horror of post invasion Iraq. Poole demonstrates perfect pitch, recounting a story that is by turns terrifying and bizarre, illuminating and moving. --Patrick Bishop, author of Fighter Boys
An extraordinary account of Telegraph Baghdad bureau chief Oliver Poolea??s five years covering Iraq; how the burgeoning Sunni-Shia civil war changed life for ordinary Iraqis and British and US troops; in particular, Ahmed Ali, Poolea??s interpreter, forced to flee to the US when his part Shia, part Sunni, family were engulfed by violence.See all Product description
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His experience results in an insightful book on an incredibly complex situation and importantly for us, his audience, it's written in an approachable and enjoyable way. It may have been the years he spent explaining complex issues to middle-England in a couple of paragraphs, but he's also managed to make it a very good read.
The book isn't easy to categorise; it's part travelogue, part history of the war, part social commentary, part memoir and part analysis of the insurgency and the surge, but this breadth was what actually appealed to me most. Having read it I now have some insight into why it all went so wrong, and given how complex the situation has been over the last five years that's a great achievement because it's very complicated. While it's a good read, and Poole wrote for the Telegraph, this is not a middle-of-the-road book, it's challenging. It challenges preconceptions, it challenges your belief in the US and UK Governments and what they've asked their armed forces to do, as well as what's driving Islamic 'extremism'.
At this point I declare I know the author, but when I reviewed his last book online it didn't get 5 stars, but this gets the full five, because it's a very good book.
Anyway, enough from me. Read it. There a lot of books about Iraq around, but this is one of the few very good ones (apart from mine of course....)
"Well-informed and compassionate." PROSPECT May 2008
"Poole's just-published account of his five years in Baghdad records in unflinching detail the horror of the war." BLOOMBERG May 2008
"As frightening as Baghdad was, his observations on Basra, once the prosperous "Venice of the East", make the most depressing reading. He found it riven by rival militias and corrupt officials, despite the British presence." SOLDIER May 2008
"(Poole)'s aware that talking of the Iraqi people's great triumph over adversity can be seen as an easy cliché, but insists it was his relations with those on the ground which made the unrelenting optimism being spun by many military leaders eventually impossible to bear." YORKSHIRE POST March 20th 2008