- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Faber and Faber (19 May 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571221106
- ISBN-13: 978-0571221103
- Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,418,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The War We Could Not Stop: The Real Story of the Battle for Iraq Paperback – 19 May 2003
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The War We Could Not Stop is one of the first books about the Iraq conflict to be published since the end of the war and is the result of a collaborative effort by Guardian journalists that seeks to explain the historical background to the war, why it happened when it did and how it finished. Some of the reports come from "embedded" journalists, some from free agents. There are also contributions from American reporters with Arabic speakers from around the region bringing different perspectives.
The first-third of the book in many respects is the most interesting part. Chapter one looks at the 12 years since the first Gulf War, a period that saw a small group of neoconservative American politicians, policymakers and intellectuals--including Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice among others--evolve a theory of America's place in the world that had as its first great objective the ousting of Saddam by American military might. Chapters two and three look at the dilemma faced by the United Nations, at Tony Blair's management of the cabinet and his own personal battle to persuade the country of the real and present danger presented by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Chapter four deals with the first few days of the war and the following chapter with the popular opposition to the war in Britain manifested by the largest ever war-time demonstration in Britain's history.
The final two-thirds of the book are dominated by the eye-witness accounts of the war itself. It has the immediacy of first-hand accounts, the balance provided by solid historical background and it reads extremely well--as you'd expect from veteran reporters. Try reading this alongside Dilip Hiro's excellent Iraq: A View from the Inside. --Lary Brown
It took just three weeks for the second Gulf War to shake the world. Despite public protest and months of international negotiations, the bombs fell on Baghdad. Now, we can see the full picture. Guardian journalists - some of them in the heat of battle, some of them at a more reflective distance around the world - have assembled the story of the most controversial war of modern times. Launched by the mightiest military force on the earth to topple Saddam Hussein, the devastating attack on Iraq brought havoc to the cradle of civilization. It showered horror, pity, death and despair on a people whom history has already burdened with oppression and tyranny. Whether the disorder wrought was justified is for the future to decide. This book is the history of destruction that was the war we could not stop.
Top customer reviews
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I found it to be unexpectedly sympathetic to the whole enterprise, both US/British and obviously Iraqi, who paid most of the human cost of the war. On this point, it is obviously critical of the massive and (despite reports to the contrary from US CentCom spokespersons) largely indiscriminate application of firepower by US and British forces but maintains an objective perspective on the political situation as a whole.
Presidents Bush and Blair receive a reasonable press as idealists who painted themselves into a corner; the real villains of this piece are the Pentagon hawks (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney et al) who as part of the Project for the New American Century had set upon the course of Saddam's destruction long before George W or Tony Blair even got a sniff of their political hot seats.
It is by the excellent reporting and the obvious immediacy of the narrative that this book distinguishes itself from the usual historical picking over the bones that follows any major conflict. As a snapshot of the period it is excellent; whether it will add anything to the debate of "whether or not we should have gone in" is not really an issue.
Hopefully, this will serve as a reference work for the latter type of history books when they come to be written, because the quality and impact of the eyewitness on the spot writing as the events unfold can not be underestimated.
While it does cover all the areas of the coalition forces down to the lack of toilet paper at one point, it does seem to get a bit too pro-British at times, and some more Iraqi viewpoints wouldn’t go amiss. Nevertheless this remains one of the more impartial accounts on the subject and remains stimulating throughout.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The reporting of the political situation is geared to UK politicians and for me I found this of average interest. What I think the book did the best at was the embedded reporters stories of field combat. What was surprising to me based on the title of the book and the organization that put it out, the field reporting seemed to cover just what was taking place without a lot of anti war bias. It also provides some interesting views of what the British troops were doing. Overall it is an interesting book, but not the full story nor the only book to read on the war.