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Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq
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Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,122 ratings  ·  166 reviews
By September 2003, six months after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the anarchy had begun. Rory Stewart, a young Biritish diplomat, was appointed as the Coalition Provisional Authority's deputy governor of a province of 850,000 people in the southern marshland region. There, he and his colleagues confronted gangsters, Iranian-linked politicians, tribal vendettas and a full Is ...more
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Published May 4th 2007 by Picador (first published 2005)
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Trish
I was unprepared for this book. It surprised me utterly. I didn't know what to expect, given the author's previous book, which was his walk through Afghanistan, called The Places in Between. To say I liked that earlier book does not quite describe my reaction--I was bowled over. I gave the book as a gift to several people and looked to see what else he'd done. I bought this one and put it aside, thinking it would be nice to read someday. When I stumbled upon his participation in some interviews ...more
Carol
Steeped in politics in post war Iraq. It was interesting how provisional government was suppose to be set up. I don't think it is that way now. I think it has reverted to pre-invasion mentality and security. It all looked good on paper,but old dogs do not like new tricks. Iraq will always have tribal and religious differences. Do we really think we can change the structure of their every day lives. I think not. And should we even try to, again I think not. They will have to come to that decision ...more
Harry Rutherford
Occupational Hazards is Stewart's account of trying to administer Maysan province in southern Iraq. He's obviously an interesting character; to quote his author bio: 'After a brief period in the British army, he studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and then joined the Foreign Office, serving in Indonesia and Montenegro, Yugoslavia. From 2000 to 2002 he walked six thousand miles across Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. In 2003, he was posted to Iraq as CPA Deputy Governate Coordinator ...more
Owen
Prince of the Marshes. Rory Stewart is a certified crazy person. He proved this by walking across Asia, including Afghanistan. The Places In Between put his crazy in book form, and should be read by anyone going to Afghanistan (though why you would be going there for any reason other than a deployment is beyond me). Anyway, after writing The Places in Between, around 2003, he got bored. So he applied for a job in the British government, to work in Iraq. No one got back to him. So he took initiat ...more
Martin
I wish everyone would read “The Prince of the Marshes.” On the one hand it a fascinating read about a part of the world that is SO much in the news these days yet is also so utterly unknown to us (and unknowable, says Stewart). On the other, it is a clear-eyed, detailed description of the ground-level work in Iraq that DOESN’T show up on CNN.

The epilogue to the book – written in Kabul in 2007 – should be five pages of required reading for everyone, everywhere. I particularly enjoyed Stewart’s re
...more
Mike McNeff
This is another book that shows why western countries failed change Iraq. Although the book is tedious to read at times, the information is essential to anyone concerned about why the operation was a failure in Iraq. The folly and stupidity of western governments shows prominently in this book.
Chris Ross
I listened to the audio book and did so at the recommendation at the end of The Osama Bin-Laden I know by Peter Bergen. Before listening to this book I thought that the War in Iraq had gone well and was going to go well for the USA. Somewhere in the first quarter to half of the book I changed my mind and I began to realize what a mistake we had made as a country and "winning" the war in the military sense was impossible. I also realized how our invasion of Iraq would make things in the Middle Ea ...more
Dan
There were many typos, oh, and Iraq is a shitty place right now. Also, the Italians are pussies.
Joe
Compelling account of the author’s time as a governor in the South East of Iraq during the first few years after the invasion. In this book the occupation certainly looks like a complete shambles. Ignorance, lack of preparation, ideology, greed, fanaticism and dislocation between the various coalition partners ensured disaster followed. However, Stewart is careful to point out that tweaking this aspect or making sure they’d done something differently somewhere else probably wouldn’t have made mu ...more
Reema Al-Medaires
“And somewhere within these anxieties was guilt. We were controlling the lives of people who had not invited us in and who had not voted for us. We wanted to justify the invasion by doing some good; but we knew little about the people who surrounded us, or their culture..”

It was a good read. Not spectacular, but it gave me decent insights about what the situation was like in Iraq upon the invasion.

After "The Places in Between" Rory Stewart, a 30 year old British diplomat, heads to Iraq in 200
...more
Daniel Hammer
Rory Stewart's experiences as a coalition governor in Iraq are interesting and well written. I had been unaware of the degree to which tribal affiliations compete with religious sects for control over politics in the regions. Based on my familiarity with Bosnia and Herzegovina, it seems that many of the same evolutions of interventionist thought applied in Bosnia were carried over to Iraq. To a degree, this is good to see. It is evidence of what we call 'institutional learning.' Stewart aptly il ...more
Steven Peterson
Rory Stewart's book is a useful addition to the literature on the American invasion and occupation of Iraq and the efforts by that country of establishing a functioning stable democracy. The most useful aspect of Stewart's work is that it is based on his administrative work in the Shi'ite southern part of Iraq (e.g., assistant governor in Amara in Maysan Province and an administrator later in Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar province). Many of the better works on Iraq focused more on Baghdad, the Green Zone ...more
Claudia
Achingly frustrating account of a British member of the International Coalition attempting to assist Iraqi self rule after Hussein's reign.

It underscored the often insurmountable problems of countries trying to aid in self rule endeavors in other countries. There were at least three (major) factions that had to be reconciled: one group with intricate ties to Iran, the religious conservative faction, and various tribes with long standing animosity to other tribes. A Herculean task on par with tr
...more
Tim
Governments, projects and businesses tend to fear insider accounts. That's because being on the inside means access to even the most damaging information. Yet what can be even more revealing is an insider account by someone who isn't really an insider.[return][return]That may not have been what Rory Stewart set out to accomplish with The Prince of the Marshes , the U.S. edition of his book about his time with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq. Yet it can plainly be viewed as such ...more
Brian
This is a book by that guy who wrote the book about when he walked across Afghanistan. This time around he was back at his job in the British Foreign Service acting as a provincial governor for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. After years of dumbed-down, over simplified media coverage of the war in Iraq, I've been really thirsty for some details to try to have an understanding of what actually is going on there. From this book, I know there's A LOT of stuff going on that we'll never ...more
Laurence
Not a lot of books on recent Mideast history out there. I believe, because of the ongoing strife, that it's hard to write a compelling account and not have it come off as an anti-war screed.

Rory Stewart was the Scots deputy governor of a marsh Arab province in southern Iraq, for about a year shortly after the 2003 invasion. Stewart, educated and well-bred, is the main character in this gripping story of the attempt by the Coalition Provisional Authority to build a liberal democracy in Mesopotami
...more
Bluenose
Very recent history at that. If you want even a glimmer of what Iraq is all about, read this book.

I had read THE PLACES IN BETWEEN, Stewart’s account of his lone walk across Afghanistan after his service in Iraq and it was a terrific book. It put in question some of my fondly held prejudices about Afganistan, muslims and that part of the world in general. It left no doubt as to Stewart’s ball busting nerve and his deep understanding of the people and history of Afghanistan.

In this book he has c
...more
M
In a way one could view this as a sequel to Stewart's The Places In Between, in which he walks across Afghanistan – but if The Places In Between was an adventure narrative (with a healthy dose of personal growth), The Prince of Marshes is a tale of bureaucratic ineptitude, of woefully under-trained people doing the best they can do in appalling circumstances. It is an impressionistic and personal book, in which, strangely, the author does not seemed fully engaged, as though his publisher had sen ...more
itpdx
This is Rory Stewart's account of his service as a diplomat for the Coalition Provisional Authority in southern Iraq 2003-4. I found his book, The Places in Between well-written and revelatory. I struggled with this book. The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq is engagingly written with touches of self-deprecating humor and clearly tells of the challenges of "nation building" in Iraq after the coalition invasion. I think why I had a hard time dragging myself ...more
Foster
I finally got around to reading a book about the situation in Iraq, and it was well worth it. Rory Stewart is a young Brit who spent time travelling through the mideast, and became the CPA administrator of a province in the southeastern corner of Iraq in 2003.
His account of the time he spent in Maysan and Dhi Qar is amazing, and results in the full gamut of emotions for the reader. You have equal parts admiration and pity for the author, as he tries to apply a strong set of moral principles to h
...more
Zach
Oct 15, 2007 Zach rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in Iraq
Seyyed Rory gives an amazing inside view of what it was like during his time working in Iraq. The difference between his book and other books on Iraq is that he is not trying to forward a political agenda, but simply telling his story. At times he tells of their triumphs and how some citizens were thankful for their help, and at other times he tells of their failures and the anger of Iraqis for the Coalition forces even being in Iraq.

Quite often we see how unorganized the Coalition is. We see t
...more
Colleen Clark
Sep 18, 2007 Colleen Clark rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Iraq, fans of "The Places in Between"
Shelves: iraq
After Stewart walked across Afghanistan in January 2002 ("The Places in Between") he rejoined the British Foreign Office and volunteered to work as part of the British staff of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He was a deputy governor in Maysan and Nasariyah from October 2003 to June 2004.

Like "The Places in Between" this book also is like a modified and selected diary, so it proceeds chronologically. Stewart writes about his and his staff's efforts to engage the local Iraqi population in po
...more
Blake
Oct 17, 2008 Blake rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone intersted in Iraq
Recommended to Blake by: Amazon.com
Shelves: iraq, middle-east
For anyone who is interested in understanding America's involvement in Iraq this is a particularly useful book, especially when coupled with other accounts. Prince of the Marshes is written from the perspective of a youngish British diplomat stationed in southern Iraq directly after the invasion. Unlike many other books on Iraq that concentrate on Washington decision making (Bob Woodward's series), military planning and execution (Cobra II and many others), or the perspective of individual soldi ...more
Dale
An informative book without an ax to grind from someone who was really there (who also knows how to write well!)

If the Iraq war interests you in any way, even if you are a partisan of the pro-war or anti-war persuasion, read The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq .

Rory Stewart was a member of the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority). He functioned as governor of Amara province in Southern Iraq - a semi-swampland where the Tigris and Euphrates come together.
...more
Raymond
When last we were with Mr. Rory Stewart he was at home in Scotland after completing his hike across Afghanistan. Now he turns up working with the British Foreign Office as deputy government coordinator of Maysan Province in Iraq (under the Coalition Provisional Authority). At the outset, Stewart actually is the guy in charge. This is not compelling reading. There is a long cast on one-dimensional characters. "Prince" is faintly tickling along the way of course, and instructive. It is a facet of ...more
Christopher
Rory Stewart tells the amazing tale of 2 regions of Iraq before the handover to Iraqi control.

What seems to be a modestly written account of his time in Iraq, this book details the incredibly convoluted politics of the regions he worked in as governor or deputy.

It brings to life the "story behind the headlines" - except there were no headlines about the violence and intense political negotiations being carried out on our behalf.

Dealing with everyone from the U.N. to local Iraqi mayors, Rory Stew
...more
Jane
This book read more like a government report and less like a memoir, and most of the time the writing was really dry. Nonetheless it was a really interesting perspective on one person's experiences working in Iraq and trying to rebuild the country. Those working to establish a democracy hoped to create a government that was represented by the myriad of tribes and groups that existed, in Stewart's case a region in Southern Iraq that bordered on Iran (who had their own influences on the region, wh ...more
Ej
Reading this book has finally given me a clear picture of the complexities of negotiations in setting up a working government in Iraq after the invasion. Mr. Stewart's writing is direct and charming with a sensible eye for the situation laced with a good sense of humor. I laughed out loud as he described being stuck in a compound taking on insurgant mortars, waiting for the Italian response team and promising the scared civilian workers he was taking cover with that the Italians would bring free ...more
James Lyon
I had the opportunity to meet the author in person at a wedding, where he was acting as best man. He is witty, intelligent, self-effacing, and an all-around gentleman.

The book offers a rather frustrating catalogue of the experiences and difficulties the international community has faced in the post-imperial interventions, in this case focusing on his tenure in Iraq. The problems he describes are depressingly familiar from the Balkans (where he had served earlier) and from Afghanistan, where he l
...more
Elmira
I only got to page 53. I read Rory Stewart's "The Places in Between" and thought that it was spectacular. I picked this book up expecting a similar narrative of a different place. I expected Rory Stewart's same keen observations of the effects and traces of history in the present day culture. Instead, this is a very detailed account of the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding a functioning infrastructure in a country that is badly damaged by war, tribal hatred, and graft, amidst a culture tha ...more
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  • Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War
  • The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
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  • Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq
  • Standard Operating Procedure
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  • The Carpet Wars: From Kabul to Baghdad: A Ten-Year Journey Along Ancient Trade Routes
  • Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq
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  • In The Company Of Soldiers: A Chronicle Of Combat In Iraq
  • The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq
  • The Iraq War: The Military Offensive, from Victory in 21 Days to the Insurgent Aftermath
  • Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
  • Late for Tea at the Deer Palace: The Lost Dreams of My Iraqi Family
  • Understanding Iraq: The Whole Sweep of Iraqi History, from Genghis Khan's Mongols to the Ottoman Turks to the British Mandate to the American Occupation
Rory Stewart was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Malaysia. He served briefly as an officer in the British Army (the Black Watch), studied history and philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford and then joined the British Diplomatic Service. He worked in the British Embassy in Indonesia and then, in the wake of the Kosovo campaign, as the British Representative in Montenegro. In 2000 he took two years ...more
More about Rory Stewart...
The Places in Between Can Intervention Work? Occupational Hazards The Marches: A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland Między miejscami. Z psem przez Afganistan

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“In the evening [the Iraqi interim governor of Maysan province] asked me for fifty dollars to repair his windows, which had been destroyed in a recent demonstration. Although he was the governor, his salary was only four hundred and fifty dollars a month, and Baghdad had still not agreed to give the governors an independent budget.... For the sake of a tiny sum of money - a couple thousand dollars a month from the hundred billion we had spent on the invasion - we were alienating our key partner and successor.
p. 264”
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