10 months ago
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Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge is an insider's look at the past, present and future state of life, war and politics in Iraq. Parts of the book are highly critical of American foreign policy, yet Pepe Escobar focuses not on the US military, but on the Iraqi people. Stories are told of the leaders of the factions fighting for power as well as the heart-wrenching narratives from everyday people struggling to live within and around the war zone.And I should add the disclaimer too that I'm still learning the ropes for writing good book reviews. My style and format tend to vary a lot but any feedback or polite critiques that people want to provide is more than welcome.
Each brief chapter of the book presents a different point about the conflict or current Middle Eastern politics. I found this format to be a bit distracting, as I had expected a more cohesive account. Although he warns readers that he is writing the "Blues" about the horrid state of Iraq (and constantly reiterates the popular idea that US occupation in Iraq must come to an end), Escobar could have provided his own suggestions or solutions to restoring Baghdad to stability. With the opportunity to present his own editorial, he instead chooses to remain amid the dismal facts and offers no hope for Iraq's future. Perhaps his stance is best summed up in a quote from one of his interviews stating, "[s]ome think it's better for the Americans to stay, otherwise there will be civil war. Others think they should leave. There is no united opinion."
Escobar's writing provided thought-provoking insights with every turn of the page. I most enjoyed the human perspectives and reading the interviews that Escobar, at times, risked his life to conduct. Whether or not readers agree with Escobar's views, I would recommend this book to anyone strictly for the factual information about US foreign policy and the current state of the Middle East. Red Zone Blues is an intense but satisfying book and the straightforward journalistic style will cause many Americans to evaluate, and possibly re-evaluate, their views on the war.