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Abu Ghraib After the Scandal: A Firsthand…

Abu Ghraib After the Scandal: A Firsthand Account of the 344th Combat…

by Salvatore Anthony Esposito Jr.

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Abu Ghraib, After the Scandal by Salvatore Anthony Esposito, Jr., was an interesting book, and it offered another look at the Combat Support Hospital, other than the scandal of the inhumane treatment of prisoners by a small group of American Soldiers. The intent of the book is good, but it was a bit dry for me, and didn't hold my interest the way that I had hoped it would. ( )
  Mathenam | Jan 2, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Iraqi prison Abu Ghairab was made notorious not only by Saddam Hosein's brutal treatment of prisoners but then, later, by the abuse of Iraqi detainees by a few US soldiers guarding them. Many Americans don't know that Abu Ghairab is also the name of an Iraqi city as well as the site of a large American Forward Operating Base and a military hospital treating both detainees and wounded troops. Author Salvatore Anthony Esposito, Jr. was a medic in the hospital there about half a dozen years after the abuse incident. He worked closely with detainees.

He was chagrined by the associations that the name Abu Ghairab conjured in the minds of the world—a slur he felt keenly when he would tell people where he was stationed. He felt this memoir of his time there would help people see the tough but very good work that US soldiers do at the hospital there and help erase the stain.

The US military, trying to erase the stigma of abuse, gave orders to treat all detainees with the utmost respect. This included giving them outstanding medical care. Like prisoners everywhere, though, detainees often were able to use this system to harass their captors; 'stick it to them man' if you will. While many legitimate complaints were treated, hypocondriasis requiring a large number of diagnostic tests and minutiae such as asking to have a dental cleaning before being executed were also part of the scene.

The above incidents, combined with the prisoners' militant intolerance of any perceived slur to Islam, caused the author 's frustrations to build to the acting out point time and again. When reprimanded by superiors, he would seem to have a better understanding for a while, but as frustrations would rebuild, he would once more become brusque with detainees, letting his own prejudices show. Even after he caused a riot with an anti-Muslim joke, his sensibilities were realigned for only a short time. At the end of his tour, he once more had an epiphany that the detainees needed to be treated as brothers; however, after being discharged and stateside, he again bemoans the fact that the detainees got better medical attention than many Americans. This sounds like a true statement, but it does make me wonder if he ever truly accepted and understood the mission of his medical deployment.

Throughout the book, Salvatore, parallels his feelings of trying and failure and trying again with his own Christian walk.

Unfortunately, this book was badly in need of a professional editor. There are numerous grammatical and word usage mistakes throughout. For instance, in one of many examples I could give, on page 23 he writes that “an insurgency arose to stalwart sic U.S. presence in Iraq.” His use of the term 'short shrift' to describe things that need more attention, seemed an odd usage of the term and was also quite distracting.

All in all, a frustrating read. I'll give it three stars as I have a better understanding of the problems our military in Iraq face and I believe that Mr Esposito can tell a good story. However the lack of insight by the author that his attitudes are the same as those that ultimately led to the Abu Ghairab abuse, as well as the mangled writing make this a book that's hard to recommend. ( )
  streamsong | Nov 24, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I think this is best read if taken as a sort of oral history. It is an earnest account of one person's experiences, and I have to give props to Mr. Esposito for being frank about the sort of emotional demons that one encounters when surrounded by people antagonizing you in a myriad of ways, but I think the author's dedication to creating an accurate account of his time at Abu Ghraib causes a number of problems, particularly in terms of pacing and focus. Somewhere midway through the book, Esposito complains about the way a journalist has taking an e-mail conversation she had with him and turned it into an article he was not happy with. Exactly what was wrong with it was hard to suss out, but a major part of his gripe seemed to be that journalists have to sell an article by turning it into a "fluff" piece. Esposito, in contrast, seems to veer so far in the other direction that at times it was difficult to determine if a point was going to be made. I admit after around chapter 5 or 6 I started skimming.

If the goal of the book was to provide an alternative viewpoint to daily operations at Abu Ghraib after the scandal, this book has achieved that to a certain degree. The scope is about as narrow as it can possibly get, being a one person account with very little in it about the context of the prison's existence. I can understand the motivation for writing a book like this. I only wish that the author had a little more experience in rhetoric to make his point more eloquently. ( )
  bokai | Nov 9, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The book by Salvatore Anthony Esposito Jr. details the dedication, energy, and sacrifice of the soldiers of the 344th Combat Support Hospital many who were also present at the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. A famous military figure said war is hell but the keeping of the peace can also bring its hell to the members keeping it. The author goes thru a searching of his soul and mind and body using his religion in a Muslim country trying to help a captive people who whole using what the United States can give them hates the giver of the services. This book shows the evolution of its author in his learning about whom he really was and is today. I enjoyed going along with the author on his journey from New York to Iraq and its infamous prison and back to the world and recommend it’s reading to any student of history and its peoples. ( )
  Elliot1822 | Sep 25, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Esposito recounts his experiences as a medic assigned to the 344th Combat Support Hospital deployed to Iraq in 2005. Its duty station was at Abu Ghraib, the site of a prisoner abuse scandal in 2004.
I was initially attracted to this book because its title suggested that it offered a glimpse into the effectiveness of the corrective action taken after the scandal. It does not. It does not probably because the scandal did not directly implicate medical services—only Military Police and, probably, Military Intelligence units. The author’s contact with the former was close but essentially tangential and he does not mention the later at all so it is impossible to discern any before and after comparisons. Because of a number of references to the scandal, he may have felt that this was his primary objective but, if so, he did not achieve it.
It also cannot be construed as a full accounting of the deployment of the 344th. Esposito’s rank did not expose him to meaningful information in this regard such as organizational structure, mission objectives, etc.
The book does, however, present a good picture of the frustrations and life style adjustments associated with our service member’s overseas deployments; especially Reservists and members of the National Guard. We must always keep their sacrifices in mind.
There was at least one editorial gaffe: reference to an appendix containing an article written by Esposito (or grew out of an interview given by him) but was distorted when published. The appendix does not exist nor would it have added anything other than as a source of additional frustration. ( )
1 vote WCHagen | Sep 20, 2013 |
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"In 2003 the United States military invaded Iraq. In 2004, an Army MP in Abu Ghraib Prison provided photographs of prisoner abuse. However, soldiers have lived, bled and died protecting the human rights of detainees at Abu Ghraib. This work details the courage, resolve, and mercy of the soldiers of the 344th Combat Support Hospital Army reservists (NY)"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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