While qualified Americans willing to serve in Iraq are screened for their views on Roe v. Wade, the country is put into the hands of inexperienced 20-somethings chosen for their Republican Party loyalty. Ignoring what Iraqis say they want or need, the team pursues irrelevant neoconservative solutions and pie-in-the-sky policies instead of rebuilding looted buildings and restoring electricity. Their almost comic initiatives anger the locals and fuel the insurgency.
©2006 Rajiv Chandrasekaran; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"A devastating indictment of the post-invasion failures of the Bush administration." (Booklist)
"An eye-opening tour of ineptitude, misdirection, and the perils of democracy-building." (Newsday)
"With acuity and a fine sense of the absurd, the author peels back the roof to reveal an ant heap of arrogance, ineptitude, and hayseed provincialism." (Boston Globe)
"As chilling an indictment of America's tragic cultural myopia as Graham Greene's prescient 1955 novel of the American debacle in Indochina, The Quiet American." (New York Times)
I have rarely come across a work of journalism as well written and as perceptive as this one. I was in Iraq before, during, and after the events Mr Chandrasekaran relates, and I knew many of the Emerald City denizens that form its core. His account of those events, and the descriptions of the ineptitudes of the incompetent that we sent there are bang on. But I personally think he could have have been a lot tougher.
The other thing I want to praise is the performance of Ray Porter as the reader in this production. He is superb. I have never, with perhaps the exception of Patrick Tull in the Aubrey-Maturin books, heard such an accomplished reader. I suspect that Mr Porter has had classical stage training, possibly British stage training.
He turns out a stunning performance, effortlessly and faultlessly switching from narrative voice to character voice, complete with appropriate accent and mannerism. His range is so vast that I spent some time with an audio program looking at the wave forms to see whether the producers had brought in other actors to provide the voices. But they all seem to be Mr Porter.
My Arabic is conversational, and more Egyptian than Iraqi, but Mr Porter's Iraqi accent for some of the people quoted in Imperial Life is dead on, if not astonishing.
It is a joy to hear someone this accomplished reading such good writing.
It is just too bad that what Mr Chandrasekaran and Mr Porter give us is an account of how inept and ignorant political appointees messed up post war Iraq so badly that thousands of American troops have suffered and died as a result; not to mention the innocent people of Iraq.
I'm a manager of a lawncare crew that listens to audio books when feasible. I have 2 years of business and 3 towards a history degree.
The book does a great job of pointing out the failures of the Bush Administration's attempt to remake Iraq after the war. Iraqi industry was more of a joke than we thought, and all the money put into updating many things, such as their stock exchange, went to waste when they reverted back to the old ways they knew. The author presents conversations he heard as second or third hand accounts as if they were a first hand retelling which is rather misleading to the reader. His bias is obvious and the bias of those reporting conversations of Military Officers to him could pretty easily have leaked into the retelling of those conversations. Interpret those instances with a grain of salt. As to actual solid facts, the author did a very good job and did an excellent job with his observations of the American redevelopment failures in Iraq. I can say I'm a Conservative and have read a lot on the Second Persian Gulf War, and this book is one among those I would say are must reads even though I don't care for some misleading tactics of the author. Another book I'd recommend on the subject is John Keegan's "The Iraq War". Keegan is a renowned British Military History and his book cover's Saddam's rise to power through his downfall. This book then does a fair job covering everything that was not included in Keegans book, as in what happened after the war.
Simply the best book I've read yet concerning the events in Iraq. Rajiv uses an insider's perspective to explain what's really going on in the Middle East. I found it enlightening, educational, shocking, and entertaining. Best of the Best!
I suppose so, it was every easy to listen to, and it is not necessarily a book I will need to refer back to.
The author's descriptions of all the good people accepting the challenge and danger of trying to create a new, great society in Iraq with all their effort, and their ultimate failure.
This is a good listen.
Why America can not actually win a war! Our system is the result of our history, and it can not really be exported in the short term, and we should not try.
This is a great listing of many of the failures of American occupation policy in Iraq. There are very little proposed solutions to these myriad complex problems. The author writes from the level of a private who complains that the sergeants over him do know what they are doing, and the Captain in charge is an idiot, and the Colonel in command has no clue, and the General must be smoking dope and living in a brothel somewhere. Nevertheless, though it is obvious the author really wants to criticize the Republican Administration, and the senior leaders and their ambitious desire to actually make life better for the Iraqis, what he really does is show how the American form of post war occupation, developed generally from WW II Germany and Japan, really can not work. Our government is too big, to complex, to focus on the important things first, and that makes working and securing a post combat occupation almost impossible. We do not have good occupation doctrine and systems, and we probably do not have the ruthless political will needed to pacify and occupy any country and change its culture. Thus, we should not try. In the future, we need to defeat the enemy forces, find the most powerful guy in the country, put him in charge, and bribe him to not to attack us. Other than that, we need to let the locals run their own countries, and save us all a lot of heart ach.
Gives some wonderful crystal clear understanding of what went wrong so quickly with US efforts in Iraq after the overthrow of Hussein. You have direct quotation from Bremer and many others on the ground in the first days of the occupation, so this isn't a partison attack piece. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone with a curiosity as to why things went so poorly in the US efforts and for anyone interested in getting a flavor for what Iraq was really like in the opening days of the occupation.
A well told story of the inter-workings of the CPA and the early years of the U.S. presence in Iraq. Can be disturbing as it explains just how unprepared the U.S. government was with this occupation. Truly eye-opening.
You will be fascinated by this book. The best written current-events book I've come across in a long while, Imperial Life is almost a novel in its clear delineation and development of the characters of the Green Zone and the suspense building up to the debacle you already know will happen.
I can't tell you if this book was accurate, or if it presented a balanced perspective of events. I can tell you, however, that it was very interesting to listen to- excellently written and well narrated. There was a lot of critisicm, but it was non-hostile. The author seemed to be lamenting missed opportunities, rather than pointing his finger. It was concise and informative.
I work. I ski. I play. I write. I have a family. I garden. I coach. I volunteer. I sketch. I run. I read.
This is a good production. The reader is able to distinguish characters well. The story is a disturbing account of the US occupation of Iraq. The book keeps good time.
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