Books on Our Involvement in Iraq?

My dad is interested in a book or books that describe (in his words) “how the Bush Administration messed up in Iraq.” But he wants an objective account, by someone who has no ax to grind. This would seem to exclude the majority of books written about Iraq, but are there any out there?

Bob Woodward recently wrote a book about the Bush administration’s handling of the Second Iraq War (as I’ve dubbed it) called State of Denial. I don’t know if it’s any good. This book is about the 2004-2006 period after the main campaign ended. Woodward also wrote a book about the 2003 period of the planning and main thrust of the war called Plan of Attack.

Fiasco is an excellent book and I would say it is very fair and very critical.

The authors of Cobra II have been on NPR a few times, and from what I’ve heard there, this might be a good one.

That’a what I was thinking. I’d go with that one. Besides being somewhat objective at least, it sounds like it’s an excellent book.

I recommend Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

In addition to Fiasco and Cobra II, I would recommend The Assassin’s Gate, by George Packer. If you can only buy one, get Fiasco.

I’ve read Cobra II, and thought it was a very well sourced, detailed and interesting book. It came off as balanced and objective, though it reflected poorly on the administration.

My one thought is that your father will only like it if he prefers thorough, detailed exposition rather than light, breezy overview. I found the part on the political lead-up to the war (including the political pressures on the military planners) to be fascinating, but the section with the play-by-play of the military operations dragged a bit for me.

I also whole-heartedly recomend Assasin’s Gate by Packer. I think it is the best description of the early screw ups in Iraq and I was there during that period.

Also Blind Into Baghdad by James Fallows really gives you a good look at Rummy’s hand it all.

I’m currently reading this book:

Iraq in Fragments: The Occupation and Its Legacy - E. Herring and G. Rangwala (Nov 2006)

It was given to me by a friend who has just finished her PhD under Dr Herring’s supervision - it’s written from a clear left-wing perspective, but it does maintain as much objectivity as possible, and avoids unnecessary Bush-bashing.

It’s particularly good on the issue of whether Iraq is undergoing a pure sectarian civil war - conclusion being that it’s more complex than simple tribal / religious conflict.

With a topic as tortured as the occupation of Iraq, I’d be suprised if a genuinely balanced account exists, but there may be some out there!

I’m reading ‘The Great War for Civilisation’ by Robert Fisk. It covers his experiences reporting all over the Middle East and Afghanistan. since the 1970’s. In doing so you get a lot of historical and religious context.

He got into trouble quite early on with Daddam for reporting his use of gas when the West was denying it and (to use his word) ‘gutless’ newspapers were still using the words ‘alleged’ and ‘purported’ when the victims were coughing their lungs up in hospitals throughout Europe.

It’s a book full of humanity and rage at the duplicity of the West and the savage evil of the Iraq and Iranian regimes and eye witness accounts of atrocities and war that leave you despairing of the human race.

One of his early accounts was very prescient - talking about the repressed religious problems in Iraq and what would probably happen if the West blundered in.

He was pretty much persona non grata in Iraqq and Iran because of his ‘hostile’ (as in truthful) reporting.

Superb, actually on the spot, stuff.

The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind is also an excellent background study.

Between that and State of Denial you can get a full picture of the horror that is the Bush administration.

A friend of mine who’s a JAG captain with the Ohio Natl. Guard (and very savvy on foreign policy, too) just got back from a year’s tour of duty in Iraq, mostly in the Green Zone. He liked “Cobra II” very much, and recommended it to me. I haven’t read it yet, though.

Another vote for Fiasco. I got it after watching the author interviewed on Charlie Rose. As one can infer from the title, the author is extremely critical of the administration’s handling of Iraq. But in my view the author’s tone is quite sober rather than hysterical Bush bashing.