The fullest, most intimate account of life in the Green Zone, the sheltered bubble where idealistic Americans planned the occupation while Iraq fell apart.
The Green Zone, Baghdad, 2003: in this walled-off compound of swimming pools and luxurious amenities, Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority set out to fashion a new, democratic Iraq. Staffed by idealistic aides chosen primarily for their political affiliations and views on issues such as abortion, the CPA spent the crucial first year of occupation pursuing goals that had little to do with the immediate crises of a postwar nation. In this acclaimed firsthand account, the former Baghdad bureau chief of The Washington Post gives us an intimate and remarkably dispassionate portrait of life inside this Oz-like place, which continued unaffected by the growing mayhem outside. This is a quietly devastating portrait of imperial folly, and an essential book for anyone who wants to understand those early days when things went irrevocably wrong in Iraq.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran is an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post and currently heads the Post's continuous news department, which provides breaking news stories to the paper's Web site, washingtonpost.com. Prior to that he was bureau chief in Baghdad, before, during, and after the war. Previously he served as Cairo bureau chief and Southeast Asia correspondent, and covered the war in Afghanistan. He joined the Post in 1994. He has served as the journalist in residence at the International Reporting Project at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, and as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, also in Washington.
"Often reads like something out of Catch-22 or from MASH."--The New York Times
"Absolutely brilliant. It is eyewitness history of the first order. . . . It should be read by anyone who wants to understand how things went so badly wrong in Iraq."--The New York Times Book Review
"Revealing. . . Chandrasekaran's portrait of blinkered idealism is evenhanded, chronicling the disillusionment of conservatives who were sent to a war zone without the resources to achieve lasting change."--The New Yorker
"Eloquent and finely textured. . .includes dozens of stories of tragicomic ineptitude and awesome corruption by U.S. officials and contractors in Iraq, many of whom had high-level connections to the Bush administration but little in the way of relevant skills."--Los Angeles Times
"Chandrasekaran has written a fascinating book, required reading for anyone who wants to know about that crucial first year of America's rule in post-Saddam Iraq."--The Houston Chronicle
"Surreal vignettes abound. . . . The book . . . would be hilarious were it not horrifying that so much valor and suffering have been expended in this context." --George Will, The Washington Post