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Babylon by Bus: Or, the true story of two…

Babylon by Bus: Or, the true story of two friends who gave up their…

by Ray LeMoine, Jeff Neumann

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
965178,693 (3.58)12
  1. 00
    The Hike: A Novel by Drew Magary (andomck)
    andomck: The protagonists of both books seem like similar dudes
  2. 00
    A Bad Idea I'm About to Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgment and Stunningly Awkward Adventure by Chris Gethard (andomck)
    andomck: East coast misfits get into I'll advised misadventures.
  3. 00
    The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker (Sandydog1)
    Sandydog1: Virtually identical story. This time the ignorant American is a reporter.

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Showing 5 of 5
This is a colorful travel log of what happened to two young civilians inside Baghdad during the years 2003-2004. It's for the slightly skeptical American and not for the staunch flag waver, because it takes a cynical view of the government. The two men travel first to Israel (which they also offer political opinion on) and then to Iraq. Some of the travel log is humorous: "We'd soon learn that Iraqis love jokes, especially ones about Saddam, gays, Bush, sex, and donkeys, roughly the same things Americans tell jokes about." Most of what they say is serious:
"Before the Coalition Provisional Authority's occupation (CPA) of Iraq, the Pentagon had never run a nation building project. In fact, one of George Bush's first campaign promises had been that he would avoid 'engaging in nation building.' Now, building a nation in Iraq, he'd made a fateful decision: the Dept. of Defense would run the occupation. Historically, all previous American occupations and rebuilding efforts -- Philippines, Cuba, Germany and Japan after WWII-- had been overseen by the State Dept., usually with an American General serving as a figurehead. When the CPA took control of Iraq, the State Dept's post-war plans were publicly tossed and the DoD shoved itself into power."

This book helped me connect the dots about Iraq and why the Middle East outlook on the U.S. soured so badly after the occupation.

The subtitle "friends who gave up their..." is accurate about the book, the story starts out describing 2 guys who needed a plan bigger than just making a buck. There are numerous references to things that people do when they are in their 20's like drugs, drinking, womanizing, etc. They seemed to grow up a lot, it was enjoyable to watch. The book is told with self-deprecating humor that is easy to like. The journalist who helped them write it, Donovan Webster, was easy to read and very well versed about Iraq and foreign journalists who covered it, suggesting he spent time in the same place, Baghdad.

I liked the pun in the title, a reference to a Bob Marley album from 1981 :)

I came across this book because I am always studying Middle East things and I'm glad I did. ( )
  updo | May 3, 2017 |
The subtitle does a pretty good job of summarizing this book. Which is good, considering that it is a heck of a run-on sentence, and the longest subtitle I've ever seen. What it doesn't tell you is that this is a reasonably well-written and quickly readable book. Ray LeMoine and Jeff Neumann lay out their experiences without any hiding behind higher motives or artifice.

The story of how they ended up in Iraq more-or-less on a whim and founded an aid distribution NGO is interesting on its own. But what really caught my attention was the accounting of all the other things they did and saw and the people the met. From the drugs and drinking of a lot of the non-military (and some of the military), their impression of the private security companies (steroid-abusing mercenaries looking for a fight), to their inside observations of the repeated missteps and failures of the CPA leading to the inevitable civil war.

This isn't the big picture of the Iraq War. It is a lot of small snapshots from the lowliest part of the CPA, in and around the Green Zone for about 3 months at the start of 2004. Not a perspective that you'll find much of anywhere else. ( )
  grizzly.anderson | Jul 4, 2011 |
This is a very interesting story of two friends who move to Iraq, pretty much on a whim. It is daring and adventurous. ( )
  kerinlo | Feb 4, 2010 |
This is snarky view of the Iraq horror, according to a couple of very honest, foolish twenty-somethings. This wasn't a typical "internship" . The audio version is excellent. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Oct 30, 2009 |
The highly enteraining story of two young Americans who traveled to Iraq to find employment working for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the Green Zone. With no experience and virtually no interview, they were given jobs setting up Non-Governmental Organizations to provide relief and aid to the Iraqi people. This story provides the reader with a glimpse of the culture of war society of those involved in it. Highly recommended. ( )
  mamorico | Nov 5, 2006 |
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Ray LeMoineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Neumann, Jeffmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143038168, Paperback)

This all-access, inside-out view of what the American occupation of Iraq really looks like on the ground is the story of two young Americans who went to Baghdad without any real plan and discovered they weren?t the only ones. Underqualified but ingenious, Ray and Jeff found work with the Coalition Provisional Authority providing humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people amid an appalling atmosphere of corruption, incompetence, and horror. Gritty and irreverent, this is a wild ride inside the Red Zone and a strikingly original portrait of the real Iraq.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

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"Jeff and Ray had the life: selling YANKEES SUCK T-shirts five months a year in front of Fenway Park and spending the rest of the year traveling the world. Sure, they'd go back to college at some point, but for now, the future was comfortably on hold. Then the play button got pushed for them after the Sox broke their hearts in the 2003 Series: In the painful light of the morning after, they looked at each other and faced up to the fact that they were in danger of becoming losers. Sad cases. What to do, where to go if you're a young American man craving experience and wisdom in late 2003? If you're Jeff Neumann and Ray LeMoine, you go to Baghdad. And so they did." "Not twenty-four hours off the bus in Baghdad they found gainful employment, or at least employment, from their very own government, running the desk in the Coalition Provisional Authority that served as an interface between the CPA and the Iraqi people, fielding complaints and requests for aid from a city of more than five million people. Underqualified? They weren't alone. But Ray and Jeff would prove to be dedicated and ingenious public servants, in their own special way, and they managed to do a great deal of good during their tenure. They also had their full share of the experiences that young people under immense stress in war zones have had from time immemorial, especially young people who return each night to a hermetically sealed safe zone flush with money and all the temptations, legal and illegal, that money attracts."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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