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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

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Clodhopper Tucson, AZ, United States 07-31-12
    Clodhopper Tucson, AZ, United States 07-31-12 Member Since 2005

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

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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Fletty 06-12-07
    E. Fletty 06-12-07 Member Since 2007
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    "ILEC Review"

    This was such an enlightening book. I finally feel like I understand why this war is such a fiasco - but written very charitibly in regards to the good intentions of those involved. Very engaging.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Seth 03-30-08
    Seth 03-30-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Amazing"

    Fascinating and detailed account of the American venture in Iraq and how it went so wrong. A must read for students of history or anyone else for that matter.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W. Sid Vogel Fairhope, AL United States 07-04-13
    W. Sid Vogel Fairhope, AL United States 07-04-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Limitations of the American form of Government"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Imperial Life in the Emerald City to be better than the print version?

    I suppose so, it was every easy to listen to, and it is not necessarily a book I will need to refer back to.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Imperial Life in the Emerald City?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Ray Porter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is a good listen.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Candace Tracy, CA, United States 02-24-14
    Candace Tracy, CA, United States 02-24-14

    Daily commuter relying on Audible to keep awake. I need excitement! If something crazy doesn't happen in the first 20 mins I'm done!

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    "Too boring to endure..."
    What would have made Imperial Life in the Emerald City better?

    I listened to about 1 hour and had to change to something else.


    Has Imperial Life in the Emerald City turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No. I have listened to other spy novels and still love the genre.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Ray Porter?

    Narrator was OK. Storyline was... just... a... snoozefest.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Imperial Life in the Emerald City?

    I didn't get through enough of the book to comment.


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy Perry, Utah, United States 02-18-14
    Tracy Perry, Utah, United States 02-18-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Not worth my time, but maybe you?"
    Would you try another book from Rajiv Chandrasekaran and/or Ray Porter?

    Nah probably not. Just not my interests, never saw the movie, maybe it's good, either way I couldn't even finish the book.


    What was most disappointing about Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s story?

    Really hared to follow with soooo many characters and never quite sure who it is that is telling the story.


    Which character – as performed by Ray Porter – was your favorite?

    none


    Could you see Imperial Life in the Emerald City being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Don't really care who


    Any additional comments?

    Can I get my credit back for this one? Blahhh boring!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Millie Chicago, IL, USA 04-19-07
    Millie Chicago, IL, USA 04-19-07
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    "Imperial Life in the Emerald City"

    The book describes the appalling lack of intelligent planning for post war i
    Iraq in somewhat more detail than is truly interesting. Unfortunately, the reader uses very fake sounding accents to read the quotes from Iraqis...just reading in a normal voice would be much better.

    2 of 9 people found this review helpful
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