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Extended Audio Sample Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,831 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rajiv Chandrasekaran Narrator: Ray Porter Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The Washington Post’s former Baghdad bureau chief, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, takes us into the Green Zone, headquarters for the American occupation in Iraq. In this bubble separated from wartime realities, the task of reconstructing a devastated nation competes with the distractions of a Little America—a half-dozen bars, a disco, a shopping mall—much of it run by Halliburton. While qualified Americans willing to serve in Iraq are screened for their views on Roe v. Wade, the country is put into the hands of inexperienced twentysomethings chosen for their Republican Party loyalty. Ignoring what Iraqis say they want or need, the team pursues irrelevant neoconservative solutions and pie-in-the-sky policies instead of rebuilding looted buildings and restoring electricity production. Their almost comic initiatives anger the locals and fuel the insurgency.

This is a quietly devastating portrait of imperial folly, and an essential book for anyone who wants to understand those early days when things went irrevocably wrong in Iraq.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A vividly detailed portrait of the Green Zone and the Coalition Provisional Authority that becomes a metaphor for the administration’s larger failings in Iraq…often reads like something out of Catch-22 or MASH.”

    New York Times

  • “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.”

    New York Times

  • “Extraordinary…Indispensable…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.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “An eye-opening tour of ineptitude, misdirection, and the perils of democracy-building.”


  • “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.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Narrator Ray Porter delivers the author’s story of hubris, corruption, excess, and destruction with the perfect degree of revulsion, outrage, and disdain…[Chandrasekaran] misses not a detail or nuance in this unintentional black comedy‚ nor does the highly professional Porter.”


  • “A devastating indictment of the post-invasion failures of the Bush administration.”


  • Winner of the 2006 Cornelius Ryan Award
  • Winner of the 2007 Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction
  • A 2007 Guardian First Book Award Finalist
  • A 2007 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction, 2007
  • A 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Current Interest
  • A 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jonathan | 2/20/2014

    " I originally saw this author on the daily show and had meant to read this book a while ago. It details what the situation was like inside the Green Zone during the US occupation of Iraq. The author had fantastic access to the Green Zone, which is where nearly all of the US staff lived during the occupation and rarely ventured outside of it, if at all. If you are interesting in this area, its a great. It focuses on the situation and realities in Iraq, and not nearly as much what was going on in Washington. Components include the occupation team having to deal with looting, running foreign ministries, Bremer's policies, life and attitudes inside the Green Zone, contractors, and more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Seligne | 2/19/2014

    " No writer of fiction could imagine such lunacy! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by David Brook | 2/18/2014

    " The best book written on the Iraq invasion. Ignore any connection to the later film "Green Zone" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jak Holding | 2/17/2014

    " Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran is the most impartial book about America's first year in Iraq that I've found so far. Rajiv spends a lot of time criticizing Bremer, who rightly deserves it because of many of the decisions he made while serving as the Administrator of Iraq. I was in Iraq during the last 6 to 7 months of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and saw the effects of a lot of his decisions first hand. If you're looking to form your own opinion about Iraq, this is one of the better books to use as one of your resources. I've rated it 4 out of 5 stars because although it is the most impartial book I've found so far, Chandrasekaran does draw his own conclusions at times that are only partially informed. "

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