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What to read on Iraq

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Night Draws Near (Henry Holt, 2005) by Anthony Shadid is "the best book to have emerged from the 'shock and awe' campaign against Baghdad," says Peterson. A Lebanese-Am­erican, Wash­ington Post reporter Shadid won a 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his journalistic accounts of the daily lives of ordinary Iraqis during and after the 2003 Baghdad bombing campaign. "Night Draws Near," which Peterson praises for its "masterful writing" and "lyrical power that draws on [Shadid's] Arabic fluency and honed eye for detail," tells of the run-up to the war in Iraq, the invasion, and its aftermath – as seen through the eyes of Iraqis.

 

Readers who want an up-close look at the 2003 US invasion of Iraq should turn to Generation Kill (Putnam, 2004) by Evan Wright, says Peterson. Wright was embedded with a platoon of First Reconnaissance Battalion marines during the invasion and later wrote about his experiences in a three-part series for Rolling Stone. "Generation Kill," says Peterson, is "full of raw power, adrenaline, exhaustion, and the profane flavor of modern-day war." Wright captures "a powerful, unvarnished, unblinking view of conflict, as if he turned on his tape recorder and video camera from the first order to 'step' and forgot to turn them off." He also calls "Generation Kill" the Iraq equivalent of the classic Vietnam war book "Dispatches," by Michael Herr.

 

For Jill Carroll (Monitor Middle East correspondent now based in Cairo), the fullest and most thorough accounting of the current war in Iraq is found in Fiasco (Penguin, 2006). "Fiasco" was written by Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks and is based on hundreds of interviews – conducted both in person and via e-mail – with US military men and women on the ground in Iraq.

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