best book about iraq war
April 12, 2010 1:43 PM   Subscribe

What is the best book out there on the War in/Occupation of Iraq?

My interest was sparked by the book and TV series Generation Kill and I am looking for more high quality reading. Other media recommendations (documentaries etc) are also welcome.
posted by shotgunbooty to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
The best book(s) on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven't been written yet. Probably.

But I liked One Bullet Away, Love My Rifle More Than You, and though I haven't read his book yet, I read his blog regularly when he was posted there - Birding Babylon.

None of these books are about The War. They're all about an individual's experience of that war, and that's valuable, but different.
posted by rtha at 1:50 PM on April 12, 2010


Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill is a good read.
No exclusively on Iraq but close enough.
posted by Thug at 1:56 PM on April 12, 2010


I enjoyed Thomas Ricks' Fiasco
posted by Vhanudux at 1:56 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since rtha didn't mention it, One Bullet Away was written by Nathaniel Fick was in the unit Evan Wrigh embedded in before writing Generation Kill and was a character on the show.

I enjoyed The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq by John Crawford and the documentary Gunner Palace. I've heard The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer is good but haven't had a chance to read it.
posted by sharkfu at 2:00 PM on April 12, 2010


I really loved Dexter Filkins' The Forever War. He's a great, vivid writer who knows his subject and has spent a ton of time "in-country." The book itself has also won a slew of awards. I was leery of a book by a NY Times reporter being named one of the 10 Best Books of 2008 from the NY Times, but yeah, the award was deserved.
posted by The Michael The at 2:01 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]




Previously.
posted by mattn at 2:04 PM on April 12, 2010


Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran is a pretty great account of what went on "behind the scenes" with the occupation authorities.

It's not a military history though, so I wouldn't recommend reading it if you're looking for one.
posted by elder18 at 2:06 PM on April 12, 2010


Drats!
posted by elder18 at 2:06 PM on April 12, 2010


Also: My War: Killing Time in Iraq by Colby Buzzell.

PBS/Frontline's documentaries (which can be viewed online).
posted by ericb at 2:12 PM on April 12, 2010


The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq is an early but well-respected book on it.
posted by fatbird at 2:22 PM on April 12, 2010


I'm reading Spiders of Allah by James Hider right now. He's in Iraq now, but he started the book out in Israel. It's been a really great read so far. He is embedded as a journalist, and this book is like a travelogue detailing the insane things he sees, the interesting people he meets, and the crazy shit he does. It's not an overview of the war, but provides a human on-the-ground account.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 2:45 PM on April 12, 2010


YMMV, but I HATED The Forever War (above). I felt it read like "Episodes From The Middle East." Very little narrative structure (I know, it's nonfic, but still...) or binding theme, other than, "oh look, the Middle East is a special and perplexing place." Yes, it is good for an account of life as a media member, being embedded and having to deal with locals, etc. But if you're buying it at full price... well... don't. I don't think it says anything. If I wanted to read an truly enlightening account about Iraq, I'd read The Prince of the Marshes, because Rory Stewart probably knows more about Iraq in his ballsack than Filkins does in his entire body.

The Good Soldiers has had a lot of praise heaped on it. Haven't gotten to it yet, because it's been caught in the quagmire that is my Amazon Wish List.

And, as for documentaries, well... No End In Sight was excellent.
posted by the NATURAL at 3:43 PM on April 12, 2010


Patrick Cockburn's The Occupation is fantastic.
posted by RogerB at 4:52 PM on April 12, 2010


Stratfor's book America's Secret War is fascinating. The book is really about the run up to the war, but the analysis presented is fascinating.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:50 PM on April 12, 2010


Seconding Ricks' Fiasco, as well as his more recent The Gamble.

Cobra II is the definitive military history of the "major combat operations" stage of the war.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:50 PM on April 12, 2010


I've just finished, and loved, Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad.

It's three years worth of (genuine) emails between two women - Bee, a BBC reporter in London and May, an Iraqi academic.

They started corresponding to set up a radio interview and became close friends. You get a first-hand view of life in Baghdad as it goes from bad to intolerable, and Bee's attempts to help get May out of the city as her life is threatened. A compelling, very moving, on-the-ground account of living in the war zone.
posted by penguin pie at 4:30 AM on April 13, 2010


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