Moving stories from the Iraqis who lived through the nightmare of the U.S. invasion and sectarian free-for-all that followed.
A journalist for Time in Iraq during the height of the violence of 2006 through 2009, Kukis was moved by the plight of the ordinary people to create a collective portrait of their suffering and transformation in the style of Studs Terkel’s The Good War. Gathered from hours of translated conversations with people brought to the Baghdad bureau offices by the Time staff to share their tales, the book recounts the grim U.S. invasion of 2003 and chase for Saddam Hussein, which wrought enormous casualties of civilians and epic displacement as well as moments of jubilation and relief. Soldiers tell of the initial bombardment and appearance of the astoundingly well-armed Americans with their “indestructible” machinery; others speak of the desertion of Iraqi troops and swift collapse of the army. “There was no honor to be had in this,” says another of the unequal battle. One vanquished army official compares the American occupiers to the Iraqi invaders of Kuwait years before: “The Kuwaitis looked at us the same way.” Hussein’s government fell, looting followed and reprisals against Ba’ath party members ensued. Ayad Allawi, a dissenter returned from exile who eventually served as prime minister, speaks of being shocked by the American cluelessness on how to run the conquered country. Guns were readily available, and roaming gangs and militia, fed by outside agitators such as al-Qaeda, inflamed tempers and suffering. Kukis eschews a strong editorial hand in favor of allowing these voices to emerge with a powerful frankness.
An eloquent, well-selected narrative of the Iraqi invasion and devastating aftermath.