Thursday, September 21, 2006


The other day I was talking with a friend about the difficulty in picking which nonfiction book to read. She mentioned going to Powells and staring at the mass of Iraq books, unsure which to read. I think the overall best single book to date is the Assassin's Gate by George Packer, which handily is now out in paperback. Packer supported the war on humanitarian grounds and the book is part mea culpa and an attempt to understand how the country went to war and how it bungled it. Packer does a great job examining the intellectual debate leading up to the war and is fair to the neoconservatives, which is less common these days. There is quite a bit less of the military detail that you find in Cobra II and Fiasco, which will make it more appealing to most people.

No Quarter, a Bushophobe foreign policy site, has a fascinating list of moments sent in from a Marine officer stationed in Anbar, the province that is out of control. Lots of interesting things like:

Biggest Outrage - Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq , not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest offender - Bill O’Reilly - what a buffoon!

Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province - Any Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD Tech). How’d you like a job that required you to defuse bombs in a hole in the middle of the road that very likely are booby-trapped or connected by wire to a bad guy who's just waiting for you to get close to the bomb before he clicks the detonator? Every day. Sanitation workers in New York City get paid more than these guys. Talk about courage and commitment.

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