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Red Zone: Five Bloody Years in Baghdad Paperback – 17 Mar 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Reportage Press (17 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955830257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955830259
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,503,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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

From the Publisher

`A brilliant, first-hand account of the madness and horror of post invasion Iraq. Illuminating and moving.' Patrick Bishop, author of Fighter Boys.

Praise for best-selling Black Knights: On the Bloody Road to Baghdad by Oliver Poole (Harper Collins £6.99) 'The best reporter's book of the war so far...the eye-witness accounts of the fighting, the terrible guilt of the soldiers at the killing of civilians, the confusion, the continuous question of why they are there, are exhilarating and chilling.' Robert Fox, Evening Standard. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Oliver Poole worked as a foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, covering both the invasion and the subsequent occupation of Iraq and you get a sense (although he never claims it) that there are not many non-Iraqi journalists who can bring five years of on-the-ground experience to bear when commenting on what has happened to this country.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Before anything, I should declare a couple of interests here. I'm a former colleague of Oliver's in Baghdad, and I have also got my own book out about Iraq, which covers similar ground to his. Which, in a self-serving way, meant I was secretly hoping that this book wouldn't be much good. Alas, as anyone who's read Oliver's first book on Iraq, Black Knights, will testify, there was no chance of that. Red Zone is a superbly informative and engrossing read, be it for the Iraq anorak like myself, or for someone who knows nothing about the place and wants one single, easy-to-read book that will tell them all. Speaking as someone who's spent a lot of time there myself, I can also testify to the difficulty of the conditions under which Oliver was reporting. Most journalists pulled out when things started getting really dangerous in 2005 - Oliver, however, stuck it out, and as such has penned one of the very few accounts of the period when Iraq really went into its darkest hours.
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....)
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Format: Paperback
Oliver Poole, who rode into the Iraq war with a US armoured brigade and subsequently returned to live there for a few years, is possibly the only person to have witnessed both sides of the equation in such depth and detail. Red Zone gives us a passionate yet unbiased insight into one of the those rare moments in history that everyone at the time recognises as having altered its course fundamentally. This an eyewitness account of life in Baghdad in recent years, of the daily grind of surviving in a world of fear by a journalist who pulls few punches, least of all about himself, his fears and his fallibility. This is a great read - took me a weekend.
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Format: Paperback
"Mr Poole's vivid RED ZONE is filled with details that are at once sad and wryly amusing ... his sense of the absurd and his ear for a quote make for a memorable account." THE ECONOMIST April 17th 2008

"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
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ba470d8) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ba4f594) out of 5 stars The Baghdad story: A story of many parts 24 Jan. 2015
By Lance B. Hillsinger - Published on
Format: Paperback
Red Zone by Oliver Poole documents life in Baghdad in the years following the conclusion of the Gulf War. Poole served as bureau chief for the British newspaper, Daily Telegraph. So, naturally, a few chapters, focus on the British troops, but the “British story” is just one many aspects of telling the overall story.

Poole, wisely, doesn’t try to establish an overall theme. Rather “the story of Baghdad” is told in pieces: The heroism and attitude of the soldiers, the suffering of the innocent, the power politics in Iraqi and elsewhere, and in his own story in what it took to “gather the news.”

As one would expect from a journalist attached to a major newspaper, Poole’s writing is clear, informative, and objective. Despite there being many aspects to the storyline, the narrative is straight-forward. Red zone is quite graphic in places, but that is the reality of war. Poole does not sensationalize the horrors of war, but neither does he sugar-coat the carnage.

Iraq was, and remains, a dangerous place for journalists. Part of the proceeds from the sale of Red Zone, goes to PEN an organization devoted to protecting freedom of the press. For his decency in forgoing “maximum profit” to support journalistic freedom, his unique view as a British journalist, and for his clear writing, Poole deserves five stars for Red Zone
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ba4f5f4) out of 5 stars Possibly Best Iraq War Book Yet 16 Feb. 2009
By David C N Swanson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've only read a fraction of the books written on the war/occupation of Iraq, and even those are a large pile. It's tough to choose the best one, but one of the most readable and informative has got to be this one. This is also perhaps the book most likely to engage war supporters and make them think without being didactic and without pulling any punches.

The title is accurate enough, but the book describes bloody and less bloody periods, and takes the reader all around Iraq, to neighboring countries, and to England. We see the war from the perspective of journalists, soldiers, and Iraqis from all sorts of backgrounds. We gain a better understanding of five years' worth of headlines as major events are incorporated in a tale of social changes and the experiences of individual characters.

Truly a brilliantly done book by a long-time reporter for the British newspaper, the Telegraph. Sadly, the Telegraph got a new editor and began insisting on pro-war propaganda. And sadly for us if not him, Poole settled down in England and started a family. So, the war goes on, short one reporter. And it didn't have many to spare.
HASH(0x9ba525b8) out of 5 stars EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT. Not a war story. ... 22 July 2016
By 1OLD MAN - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT. Not a war story. This is the story of a British news reporter’s unbiased coverage of happenings in Iraq. The politics; the war; the life of the average Iraqi people; as well as the persons killing each other. If you have no opinion, read it. You may gain an opinion. If you don’t have an opinion, read it. You may change your opinion. You may ask WHY? WHAT HAS ANYONE GAINED? WHAT WILL HISTORY SAY?
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