Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade
Throughout his career as a journalist, George Packer has always been attuned to the voices and stories of individuals caught up in the big ideas and events of contemporary history. Interesting Times unites brilliant investigative pieces such as “Betrayed,” about Iraqi interpreters, with personal essays and detailed narratives of travels through war zones and failed states....more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Nov 25, 2012 Bucket rated it 5 of 5 stars
This is a collection of essays Packer published during the first decade of this, the 21st, century. For Packer, the decade as a historical period, really began on the morning after September 11th, 2001 and ended on November 4, 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president of the U.S. The essays Packer chose for this collection are about the war in Iraq, other parts of the world where American influence was felt, "writers at war" (a group of essays focused on literary criticism and the opinions of...more
I think this book gives a good glimpse into the period of the Bush administration and the war on terror. He captures in articles written during this period the goings on in Washington and Iraq. He also goes to horrible places that no one in their right mind would have for a tourist destination and reports on these places. He has a short section on writers who mostly have some importance in regards to the international scene and a hopeful wrap up (overly hopeful looking back) on the Obama victor...more
interesting collection, and i like his writing, and have liked his past writings. but i'm not sure these essays will age terribly well. yes, they are a great capture of the politics of the time, but the politics of the time are not very interesting when, say, it's 2003 and we've just gone to war with iraq and the author is discussing the ways the war could go. interesting times, but better to leave those times in the past.
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“shakedowns and restrictive new laws. Ivorians from the north, who tend to share family names and the Muslim faith with immigrants from Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, came in for similar treatment. If a single word can be said to have started a war, ivoirité started Ivory Coast’s. Cool B’s father”
“end of the class he stood in the doorway to block the Frenchman’s exit. “You’re going around the world showing people pictures of how to use condoms?” Cool B asked mockingly. “I’ll show you what to do.” He snatched away the man’s prospectus and, reading from the text, improvised an anti-AIDS rap on the spot in the manner of LL Cool J. The Frenchman was impressed. Within a couple of days, he had arranged for Cool B to record the rap at a downtown nightclub, and the song made him a momentary celebrity among Abidjan youth. It also began his long association with white people—among them Petra, his girlfriend, who eventually went back to Germany, and Éliane de Latour, a French filmmaker who employed him for a while as a researcher on a feature about Abidjan youth. Cool B keeps pictures of them on his wall, and he tries to figure out why, in spite of these connections, he remains stuck in Koumassi. He spends his ample free time and his limited funds at a local Internet café, surfing international dating sites and chat rooms where people he knows have found marriage opportunities that got them out of Africa. Or he visits”More quotes…