Bush's War in Iraq Is Boon for Memoirs, Odes, Ads, Jeremiads
May 22 (Bloomberg) -- With its inimitable mix of murderous
mismanagement and high-falutin' rhetoric, the Bush White House is a
boon to publishers. Here are the highlights so far:
``The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq'' by George Packer (Farrar,
Straus & Giroux). Packer, a self-described liberal hawk, was initially
in favor of invading Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein. His award-winning
book is a visceral chronicle of his four trips to Iraq for the New
Yorker magazine and his growing dismay as he witnesses neocon
mismanagement, incompetence and ignorance at home and abroad.
``Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq''
by Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor (Pantheon). Gordon, a
correspondent for the New York Times, and Trainor, a retired Marine
Corps lieutenant general, had face-to- face access to General Tommy
Franks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others during the
planning and execution of the war. They demonstrate how the
administration's overconfidence undermined the mission from the very
``Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War'' by
Anthony Shadid (Henry Holt). Shadid, an Arabic-speaking Lebanese
American, captures the elusive man-in- the-Iraqi-street perspective of
the invasion. He offers wrenching profiles of everyday Iraqis from
families cowering in bombed-out apartments to raw, terrified police
``In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq''
by Nir Rosen (Free Press). Another Arabic- speaking journalist, Rosen
considers the war from the point of view of the violent Sunni and Shia
insurgents as they fight for control of the country. Rosen discovers
the one thing these ancient enemies have in common is a hatred of the
``The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without
End'' by Peter W. Galbraith (Simon & Schuster). The former U.S.
ambassador to Croatia knows something about civil war. As the title
makes clear, he's expecting Kurds, Shia and Sunnis to pull the place
apart. It's our moral obligation to stop them, he thinks, but if we
can't, then we need to find a way to give each group its own autonomy.
(To be published in July).
``My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope'' by L. Paul
Bremer III (Simon & Schuster). Following the fall of Saddam Hussein in
April 2003, Bremer became the U.S. administrator of Iraq for 13
months. It was his shortsighted decision to disband the Iraqi army
(and create marauding bands of malcontents). Still, given his
thankless task of filling the power vacuum, one finishes what amounts
to his diary feeling a degree of sympathy.
``Plan of Attack'' and ``Bush at War'' by Bob Woodward (Simon &
Schuster). Of all the reporters squeezing into the notoriously
impenetrable Bush White House, Woodward may have the best access.
These two books dissected Bush's leadership throughout the planning
and execution of the Iraq invasion. A third as yet untitled book, to
be published this September, covers the occupation thus far, and
Bush's struggle to deal with an increasingly unsupportive American
``Rebel-in-Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of
George W. Bush'' by Fred Barnes (Crown). This hagiographical
assessment from an editor of the Weekly Standard and Fox News host
co-opts the language of critics and argues that Bush's faith-based,
agenda-driven politics has made him an ``insurgent force'' in
``Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush'' by Eric Boehlert (Free
Press). Despite the administration's obvious disdain for the press and
its near constant whine about bias, Boehlert says the mainstream media
have repeatedly gone ``soft'' on Bush, failing to push stories that
would damage the White House's reputation, such as the missing WMDs in
Iraq and NSA wiretapping scandal.
``Strategery: How George W. Bush Is Defeating Terrorists, Outwitting
Democrats, and Confounding the Mainstream Media'' by Bill Sammon
(Regnery). The unironically titled book is unabashedly pro-W, and
gives him a high five for being an effective politician and
``Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the
Reagan Legacy'' by Bruce R. Bartlett (Doubleday). The former Reagan
White House staffer attacks Bush II for short- term political
opportunism that has led to ``finger in the wind'' economic
leadership. Never mind the tremendous financial cost of the war, he's
bankrupted the Republican Party of its political capital.
``American Ally: Tony Blair and the War on Terror'' by Con Coughlin
(Ecco). Bush isn't the only leader suffering from low poll numbers.
This inside-Downing-Street account of Tony Blair's political career
tries to answer the question of why Blair risked his political clout
with the British people to support Bush's unpopular war in Iraq.
``This Is Our War: Servicemen's Photographs of Life in Iraq'' by Devin
Friedman (Artisan). This arresting collection of 256 photos snapped by
soldiers fighting in Iraq is as moving as any memoir. Originally
published by GQ magazine, the shots include candid pictures of
military action, day-to-day drudgery and moments of poignancy.
``The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time'' by
Antonia Juhasz (Regan Books). Juhasz examines the role of
multinational companies, such as Bechtel Group Inc., Lockheed Martin
Corp., and Halliburton Co., in influencing U.S. foreign policy over
the last 25 years and their role in the invasion, occupation and
rebuilding of Iraq.
``State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush
Administration'' by James Risen (Free Press). Not only does Risen
reveal the Bush administration has been tapping our phones, he also
suggests the president authorized the use of torture in interrogating
terrorism suspects and the C.I.A. may have inadvertently given Iran
plans for a nuclear weapon.
``America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative
Legacy'' by Francis Fukuyama (Yale University). The author of the
influential 1992 book ``The End of History and the Last Man,'' says
the neoconservative urge to spread democracy through ``preventative
warfare'' has become a ``benevolent hegemony'' and may have gone too
``Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways'' by Alan M. Dershowitz
(Norton). The Harvard law professor also weighs in on why a foreign
policy based on ``shoot first, ask questions later'' is doing more
harm than good, emphasizing that it contrasts with the policy of
deterrence that won the Cold War and has troubling ramifications for
``American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil,
and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century'' by Kevin Phillips (Viking).
This former Republican strategist argues that the United States under
the Bush administration shares four unenviable traits with every other
now defunct world power throughout history: militant religion,
resource problems, ballooning debt and globe-spanning ambition.
``A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration in Rhyme'' by Calvin
Trillin (Random House). A send-up of our leading men. Here's an
example taken from ``A Summary of Remarks by George W. Bush and Dick
Cheney on the Third Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq'': ``Our
strategy for peace there/Is really working well/It's just that all the
killing/Can make that hard to tell.''
(Edward Nawotka is a critic for Bloomberg news. Any opinions expressed
are his own).