Imperial Life in the Emerald City An unprecedented account of life in Baghdad s Green Zone a walled off enclave of towering plants posh villas and sparkling swimming pools that was the headquarters for the American occupation of Ir

  • Title: Imperial Life in the Emerald City
  • Author: Rajiv Chandrasekaran
  • ISBN: -
  • Page: 180
  • Format: Audio CD
  • An unprecedented account of life in Baghdad s Green Zone, a walled off enclave of towering plants, posh villas, and sparkling swimming pools that was the headquarters for the American occupation of Iraq.The Washington Post s former Baghdad bureau chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran takes us with him into the Zone into a bubble, cut off from wartime realities, where the task of recAn unprecedented account of life in Baghdad s Green Zone, a walled off enclave of towering plants, posh villas, and sparkling swimming pools that was the headquarters for the American occupation of Iraq.The Washington Post s former Baghdad bureau chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran takes us with him into the Zone into a bubble, cut off from wartime realities, where the task of reconstructing a devastated nation competed with the distractions of a Little America s half dozen bars stocked with cold beer, a disco where women showed up in hot pants, a movie theater that screened shoot em up films, an all you could eat buffet piled high with pork, a shopping mall that sold pornographic movies, a parking lot filled with shiny new SUVs, and a snappy dry cleaning service much of it run by Halliburton Most Iraqis were barred from entering the Emerald City for fear they would blow it up.Drawing on hundreds of interviews and internal documents, Chandrasekaran tells the story of the people and ideas that inhabited the Green Zone during the occupation, from the imperial viceroy L Paul Bremer III to the fleet of twentysomethings hired to implement the idea that Americans could build a Jeffersonian democracy in an embattled Middle Eastern country.In the vacuum of postwar planning, Bremer ignores what Iraqis tell him they want or need and instead pursues irrelevant neoconservative solutions a flat tax, a sell off of Iraqi government assets, and an end to food rationing His underlings spend their days drawing up pie in the sky policies, among them a new traffic code and a law protecting microchip designs, instead of rebuilding looted buildings and restoring electricity production His almost comic initiatives anger the locals and help fuel the insurgency.Chandrasekaran details Bernard Kerik s ludicrous attempt to train the Iraqi police and brings to light lesser known but typical travesties the case of the twenty four year old who had never worked in finance put in charge of reestablishing Baghdad s stock exchange a contractor with no previous experience paid millions to guard a closed airport a State Department employee forced to bribe Americans to enlist their help in preventing Iraqi weapons scientists from defecting to Iran Americans willing to serve in Iraq screened by White House officials for their views on Roe v Wade people with prior expertise in the Middle East excluded in favor of lesser qualified Republican Party loyalists Finally, he describes Bremer s ignominious departure in 2004, fleeing secretly in a helicopter two days ahead of schedule.This is a startling portrait of an Oz like place where a vital aspect of our government s folly in Iraq played out It is a book certain to be talked about for years to come.

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    About "Rajiv Chandrasekaran"

    1. Rajiv Chandrasekaran

      Rajiv Chandrasekaran is an Indian American journalist He is currently assistant managing editor for continuous news at The Washington Post, where he has worked since 1994 Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Chandrasekaran holds a degree in political science from Stanford University, where he was editor in chief of The Stanford Daily.At The Post he has served as bureau chief in Baghdad, Cairo, and Southeast Asia, and as a correspondent covering the war in Afghanistan In 2004, he was journalist in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

    876 thoughts on “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”

    1. Baghdad’s Green Zone is a world unto itself, with its own power supply, water, restaurants. One need never leave, and many never do. The author describes the separateness of the place but uses that as a base from which to foray out to related subjects. Some of his examples are particularly poignant. One enterprising fellow built a pizzeria just outside the compound, only to discover that the Americans all eat inside. He talks much about the plague of outsourcing and how it resulted in oddities [...]


    2. Alternate Titles for this book could have been:1. How not to rebuild a nation you just bombed the sh*t out of2. How to F*ck up everything you touch, the Neocon way3. Corruption, cronyism and good old fashioned incompetence on an unforeseen scale4. Southern Efficiency in the Middle East5. A Confederacy of Dunces6. Beavis and Butthead Do IraqYou get the message. In other words, if 10% of what Chandasekaran writes is 10% true, then this was the greatest con job in the history of the American Republ [...]


    3. The short take: bad organizational structure and writing that is really just mediocre journalistic prose.Although Chandrasekaran begins with a narrative "I," he never really identifies himself, and then launches into details about things like relationships between State department members and Pentagon members back in Washington, making one wonder where the information is coming from. There is little direct quotation, and his presentation and interpretation of events are so mixed that it's diffic [...]


    4. A brilliant satire on the occupation of a Middle Eastern country.well it would be, if it weren't true. This gives the reader a fairly shocking insight into the incompetency, arrogance and corruption involved in the Iraq occupation.The Coalition Provisional Authority sets up shop in one of Saddam's palaces and creates a little bubble of Americana called the Green Zone surrounded by a Baghdad teetering on and, subsequently, falling into an abyss. The author, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, restrains himself [...]


    5. I knew the war was hatched by a fantasy driven cabal, but this book really laid it out in detail. It's an interesting contrast to another book I recently read, titled "Muqtada," by Patrick Cockburn. Cockburn's book deals with the Iraq almost exclusively from the standpoint of (anti-U.S.) Iraqi Shias. This book deals with the war almost exclusively from the standpoint of the U.S. crew than ran Iraq up until the elections in 2005. Both compliment each other well. The gist of the book is that as so [...]


    6. This was a well-researched and shocking look at the attempt to provide Iraq with a democratic, capitalistic government and way of life after its US invasion/liberation. That such a massive undertaking was began without a clear idea of the next step is a strange truth that is drilled home again and again. Missteps, misguided actions, and good-but-not-thoroughly-thought-through-intentions make up most of this book, but the insights into day-to-day life in the green zone are no less compelling.Heav [...]


    7. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone is the compelling story about the U.S. occupation in Iraq and the culture of inexperience, arrogance, and cronyism within the U.S. Green Zone. My previous impression of the Iraq war was that U.S. officials were well-meaning but sometimes misguided and the U.S. media portrayed a sugar-coated view rather than the reality of life on the ground. Listening to this audiobook, I felt shocked by just how much worse the situation had been than I [...]


    8. I read this during Spring Break. A very informative book. It is kind of depressing to see how the U.S. Government has allowed private contractors carte blanche as well as establishing a bureacracy in the middle of the war zone in Iraq that would compare with any on Capitol Hill. It made this die-hard Conservative wonder about the effectiveness of our involvement in Iraq.


    9. A review of the book when it first came out a few years back:Rajiv Chandrasekaran is with the Washington Post; he has spent time in both Afghanistan and Iraq since the American missions in both places. His experiences in Iraq as well as his interviews with those in Iraq during the time of the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority, under the control of Paul Bremer) and the precursor organization (under Jay Garner)provide important bases for this work. The picture is not pretty, and ties in with ar [...]


    10. Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book is journalism at its best, and the loss will be irreparable if newspaper journalists fade into extinction. The Emerald City is an image reminiscent of the Raj – Americans relaxing around a swimming pool, in a 7 square mile enclave, enjoying drinks, eating American food, relaxing in clean clothing in the middle of Baghdad. The segregation from the real Iraq was genuine; the relaxed lifestyle an illusion. The occupation of Iraq brought a flood of ill-prepared, idealis [...]


    11. Rajiv Chandrasekaran brings depth to the story behind the headlines. He has certainly taken a large body of knowledge and distilled it for easy consumption.Now I know why stories of reconstruction were so fuzzy and few. Tommy Thompson (Secy of Health and Human Services) provides a photo-op for a new hospital --- opened in the Green Zone but not presented as such. Now I know how Casey (son of Cindy) Sheehan (and 7 others) died --- Bremer closed Moqtada al-Sadr's paper without alerting the US patr [...]


    12. Imperial Life In The Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran is a journalistic recounting of the disastrous American attempts to rebuild Iraq as a mini-America in the aftermath of the second Gulf War. I am British and have read numerous historical accounts of our monumental Empire-building cock-ups, however it would have been nice to believe that such heavy-handed imperialism was a thing of the past. Chandrasekaran's book shows that it certainly isn't and I spent much of the first half in a state o [...]


    13. This book was well done; however, a lot of focus was on the negative. MSM tends to already be trying to drag down what is going on there; Not saying it's all rosy, but as a retired Military person, I know exactly what the cost is in combat and "occupation" force, and really would like to see someone not use this war (and that's what it is) for political badgering because you don't like how the administration is doing things, so much as an opportunity to observe and report and let smart people de [...]


    14. I started reading on a Friday night and could not put it down until on reaching page 274 I simply couldn't keep my eyes open.This is a shocking, damning picture of the idealogically driven attempts of the Coalition Provisional Authority to rebuild Iraq after the fall of Sadaam Hussein. The utter naivity of some at the highest levels is sad, but unforgivably there is also deliberate refusal to engage with the country's actual situation in lieu of creating a utopian America of the Middle East. Cha [...]


    15. A brief history of catastrophe. I'm glad that this long national nightmare is coming to a close, although what remains of America's imperial ambitions is yet to be seen.


    16. Given the historical context of American intervention into foreign government, and their foreign policy achievements, the invasion of Iraq appeared very much to be the latest attempt by the U.S empire to extend itself and its considerable resources into a country that didn't need the clumsiness of Americans, but ought to have had the autonomy to rebuild itself. Chandrasekaran's writing is compelling and restrained, although with such a vast cast of characters, sometimes his ability to steam ahea [...]


    17. We set out to build Iraq with minimal, if any, preparation. We contracted many people who had little to no experience in post-conflict rebuilding and some with no qualifications for the project they were hired to run. We largely ignored the Iraqi population. We didn't listen to contrary opinion. What could possibly go wrong? The result is a Catch-22 like atmosphere without the laughs. It would be hilarious if it was a novel but unfortunately it's non-fiction. Some may read it as a political jab [...]


    18. Imperial Life In The Emerald City (Inside Iraq’s Green Zone) by Rajiv Chandrasekaran is a fantastic look into the failures of nation building by bereaucrats and politicians who tried to bring only American ideas and policies to Iraq, without taking into account what the citizens of Iraq might want. The book shows in clear detail what not to do, not to try, and not to enforce upon a people with their own culture and customs. However not everything done was a bad idea, some things were widely be [...]


    19. Everyone knows the American occupation of Iraq has been anything but a success, but if you really want to know how and why it spiraled into a free-fall, read Imperial Life in the Emerald City. It’s an enraging document of spectacular failure--about how, during the first year of the occupation, virtually every effort to restore food rationing, medical care, electricity, factory production, traffic law, the university system, the police force, the Iraqi news media, and the writing of a new const [...]


    20. Hey, I've got an idea. We've got a big project. An important one. Actually, an impossible one. But we're Americans, and we've done some great things in the past. Let's grab our friends and head out. No need to hire selectively and look for highly qualified people. There are 300 million people in this country, but our friends are probably as good as it gets, so we'll use them. No need to train them. Now that they're over there, let's make sure that they can't possibly get their hands on the resou [...]


    21. This is primarily a collection of anecdotes of the tenure of the Coalition Provisional Authority under Bremer in Iraq, and to a lesser extent the shorter tenure of Jay Garner preceding the CPA. The purpose of the book is to illustrate how badly the U.S. screwed up the occupation of Iraq. While a few of the anecdotes don't strike me as being nearly as negative as the author colors them, on balance this book basically makes one ill, just by emphasizing how badly we were served by our government. T [...]


    22. Never in all of the years of reading have I been as outraged as I was while reading this book. The matter of fact recitation of the never-ending list of inept post-Iraq war decisions, incompetent staffing, corrupt contractors' waste of now-sorely needed tax dollars caused me fits of apoplexy.Beyond defeating Saddam there were few other identifiable victories during the period covered by the book. Post-war planning occurred organically, as messes developed strategies were eventually devised to co [...]


    23. Written by the former Baghdad bureau chief of the Washington Post, this book is simply what he saw in Iraq between the "end" of combat in 2003 and Paul Bremer's ignominious departure in 2004. Mostly what he sees is the complete mismanagement of basic postwar planning; the first raised, then dashed, hopes of Iraqis who have already suffered through the destructive rule of Saddam Hussein; and the arrogant approach of American political appointees, institutions and companies that are intent on tran [...]


    24. Although not a supporter of the US administration that entered Iraq under the pretense of finding and destroying WMDs that never existed, this author expresses an unabashed bias against the administration and virtually everything the team in Iraq, and Washington, did during the days immediately following the invasion and the chaos that ensued.At times the author was contradictory. Criticizing in earlier chapters that some things moved too quickly, the author would, in later chapters, criticize t [...]


    25. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, assistant managing editor of the Washington Post and its former Baghdad bureau chief, knows the landscape in Iraq as well as anyone, having spent two years in-country as a reporter. His careful, evenhanded reportage amplifies the seriousness of the problems that America still faces in Iraq. As Adam Dunn points out, "the Iraqis don't fare much better than their occupiers" under Chandrasekaran's judicious gaze. The book covers ground similar to that of Larry Diamond's Squande [...]


    26. An outstanding, and darkly comic, inside look at America's false hope and ill intentions toward rebuilding Iraq. As someone "who came of age" during the run up to the Iraq invasion and subsequent years, this book took me back to 2003 and 2004 as the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) set out to remake Iraq in Bush's vision of America. This book delves deep into the CPA's Green Zone - and explores the horrible irony of setting up shop in Saddam's former palace grounds with all the trappings of [...]





    27. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the author and narrator of Life in the Emerald City, describes his experience in the Green Zone of American occupied Baghdad, Iraq. The Green Zone was originally used for the Ba’ath Party’s administrative headquarters lead by Saddam Hussein. However, after the Americans invaded, it was used as the headquarters for the American military. Jay Garner, the head of the Office of Reconstruction for Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), was transferred to Baghdad to set up his headq [...]


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