Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Night Draws Near

Over the break I read Night Draws Near, Washington Post foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid's Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the Iraq war and US occupation and, most interestingly to me, the lives of everyday Iraqis who have to live through it.

Shadid is a born and raised American, approximately my age but of Lebanese descent. He was not embedded with the troops and he could, at least somewhat, blend in. As a reporter, he had the advantage of being able to fluently read and speak Arabic, and his ability to speak to the man on the street, interview families, understand cultural norms and even just read graffiti put him miles ahead of English-only reporters.

The book weaves together a history lesson and a year-long series of interviews following several different families with the timeline of the invasion, war, and subsequent occupation, for good and for bad. He explains why we can't just write off the insurgency to disgruntled Sadam supporters, how the United States lost the good will of the common Iraqi through its failure to provide security and basic necessities (food, water, electricity) to a country that had already been desperately weakened by decades of war and international sanctions, and how the heartbreakingly high expectations Iraq had for post-Saddam life have not materialized.

There are several reviews of the book online already (here's one from Salon, and another from The Washingtonian), and several interviews with Shadid (here's one from washingtonpost.com, and this link has a video segment of Shadid on Newshour) that give a far better picture of the tone and content of the book than I ever could. What I will say is that I certainly learned a lot from reading it and I highly recommend it to anyone who looks at the situation in Iraq and wonders how we ended up where we are.

You can listen to a sample of Shadid reading the book at Audible.com here.


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Blogger Alan Kellogg Says:

Better discomfort today with hope for tomorrow, than comfort today under a persistent fear.


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