Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rory Stewart: The Prince Of The Marshes (And Other Occupational Hazards Of A Year In Iraq)

I thought this was an extremely interesting book, and a fairly unusual kind of book. My friend who loaned it to me said it was in a way the most depressing of all the books about Iraq he had read. I can see what he meant. It in no way sets out to show what a disaster Iraq has been. Stewart is an interesting guy. He went over there and ended up as the acting governor of one of the provinces. He takes you through, almost day-by-day, his attempts to bring order out of the almost unbelievable chaos that is Iraq. It's a super-ground-level view, and he really makes the situation come alive. Turns out that Iraqis seem to be, in some very important ways, a lot different than we are. They have certain dispositions and inclinations and habits and traditional ways of doing things that make it especially difficult for Westerners to get on their wavelength.

Anyway, this is an extremely interesting book, and I recommend it highly.


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