Book Review : Imperial Life in the Emerald City
admin Fri, 06/13/2008 - 04:00
The name of the book is Imperial Life in the Emerald City : Inside Iraq’s Greenzone, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. The book was published in 2006, and was a New York Times Book Review, Best Book of the year. The main focus of the book is the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the reconstruction of Iraq. As the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, Chandrasekaran has probably spent more time in U.S.-occupied Iraq than any other American journalist. The book is narrated from Chandrasekaran’s point of view, and it is an interesting one because Chandrasekaran has been in Iraq for such a long period of time, he is able to interact with the local Iraqis and gain their insight about the reconstruction.
While I did not feel like the book was intended to be political, it certainly did not paint a pretty picture of the current Bush administration. The book details life in the Greenzone, the safety zone within Baghdad that the US has made its headquarters. In particular, the book focuses on the reconstruction effort and those that we put in charge of various portions of the reconstruction.
Mr. Chandrasekaran makes it clear that the reconstruction effort would be challenging to begin with, but it became more difficult due to the decisions that were being made. From the authors point of view the single most important factor to getting a job with the CPA was your political standing. If you were a tried and true Republican, the job was yours, even if you had no idea what you were doing. A stand out example was the gentleman who was put in charge of the Iraqi stock market, with no experience.
The book also details some of the decisions that were made by Paul Bremer. Mr. Bremer had a tough job, and no one can or should argue that, but some of the decisions that were made would cost dearly. Decision’s like purging Iraqi government jobs of any former Bath party members, regardless of rank or standing. Decision’s like worrying about getting the stock market open, instead of focusing on the basics, Food, Water and Security. The author also talks about how Bremer had trouble getting the resources that he needed due to the in-fighting between the US State Department and the DoD.
All in all it was a pretty good book. It starts a little slow, but after about 30 pages, I had no trouble finishing it. I do not think that the book is overly political, the author does take a few shots, but I feel that he is just pointing out the failings of the CPA. When I finished the book I was shaking my head, not because it was a bed book, instead I was shaking my because of how embarrassing all of this is to the USA Its a good read, and I would recommend it!