Title: The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux, New York
Publication Date: 2005
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Edition: 1st Printing
467pp. This book is about the United States' course of changing the history of the Middle East and becoming ensnared in a guerilla war in Iraq. "It brings to life the people and ideas that created the Bush administration's war policy and led America to the Assassins' Gate." Clean. Bookseller Inventory # 007033
Synopsis: THE ASSASSINS? GATE: AMERICA IN IRAQ recounts how the United States set about changing the history of the Middle East and became ensnared in a guerilla war in Iraq. It brings to life the people and ideas that created the Bush administration?s war policy and led America to the Assassins? Gate—the main point of entry into the American zone in Baghdad. The consequences of that policy are shown in the author?s brilliant reporting on the ground in Iraq, where he made four tours on assignment for The New Yorker. We see up close the struggles of American soldiers and civilians and Iraqis from all backgrounds, thrown together by a war that followed none of the preconceived scripts.
The Assassins' Gate also describes the place of the war in American life: the ideological battles in Washington that led to chaos in Iraq, the ordeal of a fallen soldier?s family, and the political culture of a country too bitterly polarized to realize such a vast and morally complex undertaking. George Packer?s first-person narrative combines the scope of an epic history with the depth and intimacy of a novel, creating a masterful account of America?s most controversial foreign venture since Vietnam.
George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of several books, most recently Blood of the Liberals, winner of the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Award. He is also the editor of the anthology The Fight Is for Democracy . He lives in Brooklyn. Winner of the Overseas Press Club's Cornelius Ryan Award for Best Nonfiction Book on International Affairs
Winner of the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award A New York Times Best Book of the Year A New York Times Notable Book A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year A Washington Post Best Book of the Year A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq recounts how the United States set about changing the history of the Middle East and became ensnared in a guerilla war in Iraq. It brings to life the people and ideas that created the Bush administration's war policy and led America to the Assassins' Gate—the main point of entry into the American zone in Baghdad. The consequences of that policy are shown in the author's reporting on the ground in Iraq, where he made four tours on assignment for The New Yorker. We see up close the struggles of American soldiers and civilians and Iraqis from all backgrounds, thrown together by a war that followed none of the preconceived scripts.
The Assassins' Gate also describes the place of the war in America life: the ideological battles in Washington that led to chaos in Iraq, the ordeal of a fallen soldier's family, and the political culture of a country too bitterly polarized to realize such a vast and morally complex undertaking. George Packer's first-person narrative combines the scope of an epic history with the depth and intimacy of a novel, creating a masterful account of America's most controversial foreign venture since Vietnam. "A comprehensive look at the largest foreign policy gamble in a generation, by a New Yorker reporter who traces the full arc of the war, from the pre-invasion debate through the action on the ground."— The New York Time Book Review "A comprehensive look at the largest foreign policy gamble in a generation, by a New Yorker reporter who traces the full arc of the war, from the pre-invasion debate through the action on the ground."— The New York Time Book Review "Masterful . . . Packer's sketch of the prewar debates is subtle, sharp and poignant . . . His reporting from Iraq was always good, but the book is even better, putting the reader at the side of Walter Benjamin's angel of history, watching helplessly as the wrechage unfolds at his feet."—Gideon Rose, The Washington Post Book World "A deftly constructed and eloquently told account of the war's origins and aftermath . . . Although he works in snapshots and anecdotes, every time an image might allow him to settle into a simple conclusion about the war's worthiness, he turns his attention—and his considerable powers of description and dramatization—to another image that points to the opposite conclusion. The cumulative effect is a wrenching cognitive dissonance—the kind, Packer observes, that few Americans can stand but with which Iraqis live every day . . . Packer makes it deeply human and maddeningly vivid."—Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, Los Angeles Book Review "[Packer] has succeeded in creating a book that is not only relevant but discerning and provocative. Using on-the-ground reporting and a talent for storytelling, he offers the vivid detail and balanced analysis that have made him one of the leading chroniclers of the Iraq war."—Yonatan Lupu, San Francisco Chronicle "Packer covers the same ground as the other authors — the war dreamed up by fevered minds in Washington, the strange world of diaspora politics, the lack of planning in the Department of Defense, the occupation, and the insurgency — but he does it from the perspective of a journalist rather than of a participant. The result is a beautifully written, poignant, and fair-minded narrative of two dreams deferred."—Mark Leonard, The Chronicle of Higher Education "Read George Packer's book The Assassin's Gate . . . And I wish . . . I had been able to help George Packer write that book. In some places I could have given him a hell of a lot more specifics . . . But if you want to read how the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And, of course, there are other names in there, Under Secretary of Defense Doug Feith, whom most of you probably know Tommy Frank said was the 'stupidest blankety blank man in the world.' He was. Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. And yet, and yet, after the Secretary of State agrees to a $400 billion department, rather than a $30 billion department, having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw themselves in a closet somewhere. That's not making excuses for the State Department. That's telling you how decisions were made and telling you how things got accomplished. Read George's book."—Larry Wilkerson "A brilliant new book."—Richard Holbrooke, The Washington Post "[Packer's] own reportage of the effects of the war on the individuals involved . . . [is] much fresher and more compelling."— The Boston Globe "Brutal analyses and trenchant on-the-spot reportage for the New Yorker magazine over the past two years provide the core of this devastating critique . . . Mr. Packer brilliantly describes the evolving mindset of the neoconservatives who took hold of policy towards Iraq in the run-up to the war, as well as the hopes and arguments of their assorted Iraqi allies in exile . . . Where he scores most is in his portraying the psychology of Iraqis, their ambivalence to the liberation/occupation . . . . Mr. Packer empathizes with them in all their diversity, drawing a remarkable cast of sharply defined characters."— The Economist "George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker, blends on-the-scene reporting and thoughtful analysis in a sobering account of the unfinished war in Iraq and its impact on Americans and Iraqis. He cheers the demise of Saddam, while questioning a war with deep roots in history, but far from inevitable."— USA Today " The Assassins' Gate is almost certain to stand as the most comprehensive journalistic account of the greatest foreign-policy debacle in U.S. history . . . the best book yet about the Iraq war . . . Packer is a rare combination: an excellent reporter, a sophisticated analyst and a fine writer. He was also ubiquitous. No other journalist can match the breadth of Packer's Iraq coverage . . . exceptional—varied, empathetic and intelligent . . . The Assassins' Gate is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the terrible predicament in which we now find ourselves, how we got there, and why we must not repeat the same tragic mistake."—Gary Kamiya, Salon "Wrenching dispatches from the heart of the war that won't end."— New York Magazine "The great strength of George Packer's book is that it gives a fair hearing to both views. Free of cant—but not, crucially, of anger—Mr. Packer has written an account of the Iraq war that will stand alongside such narrative histories as A Bright Shining Lie, Fire in the Lake and Hell in a Very Small Place. As a meditation on the limits of American power, it's sobering. As a pocket history of Iraq and the United States' tangled history, it's indispensible. As an examination of the collision between arrogance and goo...
Review: As the death toll mounts in the Iraq War, Americans are agonizing over how the mess started and what to do now. George Packer, a staff writer at The New Yorker, joins the debate with his thoughtful book The Assassins' Gate. Packer describes himself as an ambivalent pro-war liberal "who supported a war [in Iraq] by about the same margin that the voting public had supported Al Gore." He never believed the argument that Iraq should be invaded because of weapons of mass destruction. Instead, he saw the war as a way to get rid of Saddam Hussein and build democracy in Iraq, in the vein of the U.S. interventions in Haiti and Bosnia.
How did such lofty aims get so derailed? How did the U.S. get stuck in a quagmire in the Middle East? Packer traces the roots of the war back to a historic shift in U.S. policy that President Bush made immediately after 9/11. No longer would the U.S. be hamstrung by multilateralism or working through the UN. It would act unilaterally around the world--forging temporary coalitions with other nations where suitable--and defend its status as the sole superpower. But when it came to Iraq, even Bush administration officials were deeply divided. Packer takes readers inside the vicious bureaucratic warfare between the Pentagon and State Department that turned U.S. policy on Iraq into an incoherent mess. We see the consequences in the second half of The Assassins' Gate, which takes the reader to Iraq after the bombs have stopped dropping. Packer writes vividly about how the country deteriorated into chaos, with U.S. authorities in Iraq operating in crisis mode. The book fails to capture much of the debate about the war among Iraqis themselves--instead relying mostly on the views of one prominent Iraqi exile--but it is an insightful contribution to the debate about the decisions--and blunders--behind the war. --Alex Roslin
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