Pride Before A Fall

Review of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone; Rajiv Chandrasekaran; Alfred A. Knopf; pp 320

– Susan Thomas

I watched Matt Damon’s The Green Zone which then propelled me to read this remarkable book, whose certain parts were incorporated in the movie.

Obviously far more detailed and extensive than the movie, Imperial Life is an in-depth account of the American occupation of Iraq. The hubris, the miscalculated moves and complete lack of cultural understanding led to the chaos in one of the world’s oldest civilisations.

Chandrasekaran, National Editor of The Washington Post, takes us into the life of the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) at Saddam’s former palace in Baghdad. In their first and most critical year of the occupation, the CPA made the most conceited, irrelevant decisions such as focusing on taxes versus electricity or medical supplies. They continued along this convoluted decision-making path without any regard for Iraqis, especially those outside the fenced-in, luxurious Green Zone. Chandrasekaran also provides solid examples of the CPA’s cronyism (being Republican was enough to get you in the door, no qualifications needed) and multiple falls through the cracks, all of which only resulted in insurgency and aggravated political conflict.

Pride before a fall is an understatement to Chandrasekaran’s description of the CPA in Iraq. He carves out a clear understanding of why the war failed and the CPA’s constant blunders achieved nothing but disaster. An excellent read of a war that shapes the landscape of Iraq today.

The book has won The Samuel Johnson Prize, The Overseas Press Club Annual Book Award and The Ron Ridenhour Prize. It was a finalist for The National Book Award, The Helen Bernstein Award For Excellence In Journalism and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize

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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)
Pride Before A Fall, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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This entry was posted on Sunday, December 19th, 2010 at 11:22 am and is filed under Non-Fiction, Reviews, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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