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The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq (2005)

by George Packer

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9971414,765 (4.05)25
This book recounts how the United States set about changing the history of the Middle East and became ensnared in a guerrilla 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 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 book also describes the war in American life: the ideological battles in Washington, the ordeal of a fallen soldier's family, and the political culture of a country too polarized to realize such a vast and morally complex undertaking.--From publisher description.… (more)
Recently added byChocoruapublic, agatlin1990, bnmak, stumax, noonanlm, private library, GlennGarvin, BOlewnick, andrem55
Legacy LibrariesLeslie Scalapino
  1. 10
    Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (rakerman)
    rakerman: Assassin's Gate gives a different but overlapping perspective on many of the issues covered in Imperial Life in the Emerald City; they are good companion books.
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» See also 25 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Excellent. Packer’s account is balanced but fair. He doesn’t go easy on anyone. ( )
  Seafox | Jul 24, 2019 |
I thought that while this seemed well researched, and he certainly spent many hours with top commanders and civilian leaders, he seemed enchanted by the CPA and too willing to forgive them their mistakes. He spent very little, if no, time talking about the effect of the war on the average soldier or the lack of effect the war had on the average American. His analysis of intellectuals associated with the war was much too forgiving, especially of liberals. I wanted to read a history of the Assissins' Gate, but what I ended up with was over 400 pages of one man's view based on the personal time he had spent making friends with CPA officials. ( )
  jeterat | Oct 5, 2016 |
As good as it gets. ( )
  Periodista | Nov 8, 2014 |
George Packer has written a truly enlightening and intriguing book about our descent into Iraq. Packer is a lucid and engaging writer who can clearly summarize the intellectual debate between the neoconservatives and the realists. It's also a sad book. Learning how policy is arrived out and then justified and implemented can be very discouraging.

The neocons and Bush had decided to go after Iraq for a variety of reasons before 9/11. The concern then became how to sell that decision. Shortly after the fall of Baghdad Paul Wolfowitz fold an interviewer: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S, government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction." The real rationale for the war was to realign American power in the Middle East, toward a democratic society and away from Saudi Arabia, home of the Wahhabi sect that virtually controlled Saudi society and government and had been the home to almost all of the 9/11 terrorists. (See Sandra MacKey's very excellent book on Saudi Arabia -- [b:The Saudis Inside the Desert Kingdom|511872|The Saudis Inside the Desert Kingdom|Sandra Mackey|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1175397999s/511872.jpg|1488726] -- for a detailed view of what it's like to live in such a theocracy.)

The job then became to selectively use pieces of intelligence that supported their common justification. "Just a year earlier, Iraq had been viewed as an outlaw state that was beginning to slip free of international constraints and might present a threat to the region or, more remotely, the United States in five years or so. Now, suddenly, there wasn't a day to be lost. . . It didn't matter that there was no strong evidence to back up the doomsday prognosis." ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Packer tells it like it is, with some strange but often helpful quirks of perspective – a lefty who supported the war in Iraq, but was disenchanted with the way it was conducted. ( )
  chriskrycho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Hard as it is to believe, the Bush administration took on the largest foreign policy project in a generation with little planning or forethought. It occupied a foreign country of 25 million people in the heart of the Middle East pretty much on the fly. Packer, who was in favor of the war, reserves judgment and commentary in most of the book but finally cannot contain himself: "Swaddled in abstract ideas . . . indifferent to accountability," those in positions of highest responsibility for Iraq "turned a difficult undertaking into a needlessly deadly one," he writes. "When things went wrong, they found other people to blame."
 
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Full title (2005): The assassins’ gate : America in Iraq.
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This book recounts how the United States set about changing the history of the Middle East and became ensnared in a guerrilla 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 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 book also describes the war in American life: the ideological battles in Washington, the ordeal of a fallen soldier's family, and the political culture of a country too polarized to realize such a vast and morally complex undertaking.--From publisher description.

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