Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran


“Absolutely brilliant. It is eyewitness history of the first order. . . . It should be read by anyone who wants to understand how things went so badly wrong in Iraq.”
The New York Times Book Review

“A visceral-sometimes sickening-picture of how the administration and its handpicked crew bungled the first year in postwar Iraq. . . . Often reads like something out of Catch-22 or from M*A*S*H.”
The New York Times

“Revealing. . . . Chandrasekaran's portrait of blinkered idealism is evenhanded, chronicling the disillusionment of conservatives who were sent to a war zone without the resources to achieve lasting change.”
The New Yorker

“Eloquent and finely textured. . . . Includes dozens of stories of tragicomic ineptitude and awesome corruption by U.S. officials and contractors in Iraq.”
Los Angeles Times

“Mr. Chandrasekaran's book, while nonfiction, is as chilling an indictment of America's tragic cultural myopia as Graham Greene's prescient 1955 novel of the American debacle in Indochina, The Quiet American.”
–Frank Rich, The New York Times

“Surreal vignettes abound in Imperial Life in the Emerald City. The book . . . would be hilarious were it not horrifying that so much valor and suffering have been expended in this context.”
–George Will, The Washington Post

“A stunning and damning book that amounts to the journalistic equivalent of a criminal indictment of those charged with conceiving and running the occupation. . . . Thanks to Chandrasekaran's potent book, we finally know how the fiasco of occupation happened on the ground.”
The Oregonian

“Extraordinary. . . . Indispensable. . . . Chandrasekaran does not set out to score partisan points or unveil large geopolitical lessons; he is, essentially, a reporter telling readers what he saw. Yet it is impossible to read his book without thinking about the larger implications of the story he tells.”
The Washington Post Book World

“Chandrasekaran has written a fascinating book, required reading for anyone who wants to know about that crucial first year of America's rule in post-Saddam Iraq.”
Houston Chronicle

“An eye-opening tour of ineptitude, misdirection and the perils of democracy-building. . . . Chandrasekaran's detail-rich reporting and firsthand, candid narrative is what sets his contribution apart and bolsters his withering assessment.”

“A meticulous, uncompromising, brilliant exposť of the first year of the American occupation of Iraq. . . . A detailed and surprisingly evenhanded account.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“With acuity and a fine sense of the absurd, the author peels back the roof to reveal an ant heap of arrogance, ineptitude and hayseed provincialism.”
The Boston Globe

“Riveting and infuriating. . . . Offers a baroque kaleidoscope of ignorance and arrogance.”
The New York Observer

“Incredible. . . . Fantastically written. . . . Chandrasekaran's sharp-eyed account of life inside Baghdad's Green Zone offers some of the blackest comedy of the bookstore.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Anyone who wants to talk knowledgeably about our Iraq misadventure should pick up Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City. It's like reading a horror novel. You just want to put your face down and moan: How could we have let this happen? How could we have been so stupid?”
–Molly Ivins

“A daring reporter with an eye for detail, Mr. Chandrasekaran has written a lively account of American ordeals in Baghdad after Saddam's fall. It would be an entertaining read if it weren't so depressing.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Extraordinary. . . . Imperial Life in the Emerald City is full of jaw-dropping tales of the myriad large and small ways in which Bremer and his team poured fuel into the lethal cauldron that is today's Iraq. . . . Chandrasekaran shows how incomplete our conventional wisdom is about what went wrong in Iraq.”
–Moises Naim in Washington Post Book World, September 17, 2006 (full review here)

“This is a dazzling, important, and entertaining work of reportage about the American civilians who tried to remake Iraq, and about the strange, isolated city-state in Baghdad where they failed. Every American who wants to understand how and why things went so badly wrong in Iraq should read this book.”
–Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars

“An extraordinarily vivid and compelling anatomy of a fiasco. Imperial Life in the Emerald City is an indispensable saga of how the American liberation of Iraq turned to chaos, calamity, and civil war. Chandrasekaran takes us inside Baghdad’s Green Zone as no one else has.”
–Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn

“This amazing book pulls back the curtains of deception and reveals in stunning fashion what really went on inside the Emerald City in the crucial year after the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Chandrasekaran’s reporting is vivid and relentless as he documents the mix of idealism, confidence, energy, hubris, political miscalculation, cultural blindness, and fantastical thinking of those who came to save Iraq yet made a difficult situation worse.”
–David Maraniss, author of They Marched Into Sunlight

“This is a devastating account of the American occupation of Iraq. It shows how Americans arrived in Iraq full of big plans (and/or lucrative contracts) to help the country become more like the United States, but wound up living an isolated existence while the lives of Iraqis deteriorated around them. No other book has described so well what Iraq looked like and felt like in the aftermath of the invasion.”
–James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans

“Rajiv Chandrasekaran has not given us “another Iraq book.” He has given us a riveting tale of American misadventure. . . . He shows us American idealism and voyeurism, as well as the deadly results of American hubris. And by giving us the first full picture from inside the Green Zone, he depicts a mission doomed to failure before it had even been launched.”
–Samantha Power, author of A Problem from Hell