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What to read on Iraq

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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.

' "Generation Kill" is the book that takes the reader as close as possible to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.' (Peterson)

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.

'For anyone wondering how the groundwork for what we are witnessing today was laid, "Fiasco" provides an exhaustive answer.' (Jill Carroll)

Thunder Run by Los Angeles Times correspondent Dan Zucchino (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004) "is a powerful narrative and blow-by-blow account – literally, in some cases – of the first American unit to run the gantlet and roar into Baghdad in April 2003, setting the stage for the collapse of Saddam Hussein," says Peterson. "Zucchino masterfully weaves an oral history of the fighting, drawn from the soldiers that fought it."

'Zucchino tells this episode of the conflict better than anyone else .' (Peterson)

For strong combat narrative, Dan Murphy (Monitor Middle East correspondent based in Cairo) recommends Cobra II (Pantheon, 2006) by Michael Gordon. "It's the inside story of the planning and execution of the invasion and occupation plan for Iraq, mostly from the US military perspective," says Murphy.

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