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Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Imperial Life in the Emerald City – Inside Baghdad’s Green Zone by Rajv Chandrasekaran is out in paperback at 13.50 euros.

Well-deserved winner of the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2007, this is probably the best account in print of why the American occupation of Iraq has gone so drastically wrong.

From inside a surreal bubble of pure Americana known as the Green Zone, the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority attempted to rule Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Drawing on interviews and internal documents, Rajiv Chandrasekaran tells the memorable story of this ill-prepared attempt to build American democracy in war-torn Iraq.

He details not only the risky disbanding of the Iraqi army and the attempt to train the new police force, but absurdities such as the aide who based Baghdad’s new traffic laws on those of the state of Maryland that he downloaded from the internet and the 24-year-old who was put in charge of revitalising Baghdad’s stock exchange despite never having worked in finance.