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Imperial Life in the Emerald City | [Rajiv Chandrasekaran]

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

The Washington Post's former Baghdad bureau chief, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, takes us into the Green Zone, headquarters for the American occupation in Iraq. In this bubble separated from wartime realities, the task of reconstructing Iraq is in the hands of 20-somethings chosen for their Republican Party loyalty. They pursue irrelevant neoconservative solutions and pie-in-the-sky policies instead of rebuilding looted buildings and restoring electricity, angering the locals and fueling the insurgency.
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Publisher's Summary

In this unprecedented account, The Washington Post's former Baghdad bureau chief, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, takes us into the Green Zone, headquarters for the American occupation in Iraq. In this bubble separated from wartime realities, the task of reconstructing a devastated nation competes with the distractions of a Little America: a half-dozen bars, a disco, a shopping mall - much of it run by Halliburton.

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.

What the Critics Say

  • A National Book Award Finalist

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Clodhopper Tucson, AZ, United States 07-31-12
    Clodhopper Tucson, AZ, United States 07-31-12 Member Since 2013

    I'm a geologist and I use Audible books to while away long hours on the road... My pickup truck is my reading room!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Devastating Indictment"

    I think even the most passionate opponent of Operation Desert Freedom hoped that the Bush administration knew more than we did, or had thought things out deeper than we had, or had a plan we were not privy to. History has proven that none of that was true, and this book documents just how little preparation and thought preceded the military decision to invade.

    This book is a case history in the folly of trying to impose cultural values at the point of a gun. Of course the U.S. government should have known this was folly - the British empire had demonstrated it in the same region 80 years before. But perhaps nobody in the administration had read David Fromkin's "A Peace to End All Peace".

    Hopefully, both Fromkin's book and this one by Rajiv Chandrashekaran will be required reading for all future administrations.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dean Anaheim, CA, USA 05-22-07
    Dean Anaheim, CA, USA 05-22-07
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    "Excellent"

    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.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elton Los angeles, CA, United States 04-03-07
    Elton Los angeles, CA, United States 04-03-07 Member Since 2004

    I teach Business, Economics, and English at a university in Tokyo. My interests are in politics, economics, and philosophy. I hold a BA in English Literature, and an MA in Political Science.

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    "Too Judgemental"

    I am not so sure this is the best book on Iraq. There have been some really good ones written. This one is perhaps one of the more damning. Too much is written with only the Iraqis and non-American perspective addressed. Ultimately this book misses a huge point...perspective. A foreign force of 130,000 is occuppying a country of nearly 27,000,000. There are vast cultural differences. In the historical perspective, the US military is doing an exceptional job...though the US administration is questionable. The attacks on the personnel on the ground and people in unifrom was a little too much. This is not a movie and it is not a video game. This is not occurring on a controlled set. This volume fails because it tries to make a case for a Hollywood style story, but the characters do not stick to the script.

    23 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-02-07 Member Since 2013
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    "Thrilling"

    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.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benedetto Mongiovi 03-20-15 Member Since 2014
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    "kind of dull
    "

    It was a very slow pace and didn't paint a clear picture of events. I feel it jumped around too many characters and didn't finish any of their stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yulisa 02-26-15
    Yulisa 02-26-15
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    "Behind the scenes if the USA occupation authority"

    It is incredible to find out about waste and cronyism that the Bush administration was responsible for doing the invasion and occupation of Iraq


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc S. Levine 02-25-15
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    "Good not great"

    Good information and good narration story could have been more in depth and more epilogue would have been nice too

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Kingston, ON, Canada 02-19-15
    Mike Kingston, ON, Canada 02-19-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Ray Porter is a great Narrator"

    I could listen to Ray Porter read the phone book and be content. And, it is a good thing because this book is just about as exciting.

    See that dude on the cover who looks like Jason Bourne - he is not in the book. The cover is a total lie - don't be fooled. This book is nothing like the movie of the same name.

    As a moderately intelligent individual I was able to find some interest in the culture clash and humour in the blind stupidity created by the egomania of the era. There just wasn't enough to really enjoy the book.

    Did I mention Ray Porter (he sounds like Tom Hanks) is a great narrator? You should find another one of his books..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jon Meridian, ID, United States 03-29-14
    jon Meridian, ID, United States 03-29-14 Member Since 2011
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    "He shoots he scores"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Imperial Life in the Emerald City to be better than the print version?

    I don't have time to read for pleasure, so this is the only way I can digest books like this.


    Any additional comments?

    I am a veteran, and I lived through this with a front row seat. The stupidity and corruption described in this book only scratches the surface. Read this book, and the next time you feel like the government has the answers, remember what you learned from this tragic story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William KNIGHTDALE, NC, United States 03-21-14
    William KNIGHTDALE, NC, United States 03-21-14 Member Since 2011

    I love a good book...

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    "Sad but true."

    What a story...ill planned and carried out even worse, how can a country go to war without any idea of what the plan is once you've won...Iraq could have been a tremendous success but instead it left a nation that is growing more terrorists and making live even more risky. The book makes that very clear. Ray Porter did an excellent job bring a difficult book to life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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