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The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,206 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
Named one of the Best Books of 2005 by The New York Times, The Washington Post Book World, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The New York Times Book Review, USA Today, Time, and New York magazine.

The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq recounts how the United States set about changing the history
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 22nd 2005)
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Ghost Wars by Steve CollDiplomacy by Henry KissingerThe Cold War by John Lewis GaddisThe Looming Tower by Lawrence WrightThe Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria
American Foreign Policy
76th out of 272 books — 177 voters
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo IshiguroHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling1776 by David McCulloughKafka on the Shore by Haruki MurakamiNo Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2005
33rd out of 100 books — 55 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 21, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it
In contrast to most news articles, this book is not especially partisan and certainly not ranting. Though it was very critical of the conduct of the war in Iraq, Packer, a reporter for the New Yorker, was at pains to describe what happened and explain why it was such as disaster. As Christopher Hitchens, in his review of the book, said, “His book rests on three main pillars: analysis of the intellectual origins of the Iraq war, summary of the political argument that preceded and then led to it, ...more
كتاب يؤرخ عن الغزو الامريكي للعراق ..من الاستعداد للغزو وتخبط الادراة الامريكه وصناع القرار وجهلهم عن المنطقة..الى الاحتلال الامريكي ومابعدها من فوضى,والاقتتال الطائفي..كان لا يوجد هناك قانون فقط أحتلاال..
الكاتب هنا تحدث مع شخصيات عراقية وامريكيه..مغرمة بغزو العراق..وضح وجهات نظرهم..وذكر أحداث ووقائع ماقبل الغزو وأثناء الاحتلال الامريكي وأزمة الاكراد..وفترة حكم بول بريمر
لا أتذكر الاحداث قبل الغزو واثناء الاحتلال..وعن هذه الفترة بالذات كنت صغيرة..وساعدني هذا الكتاب
لمين يريد ان يقرا عن هذة الفترة
Mar 02, 2008 Marc rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers interested in our misadventure in Iraq, and able to see through self-serving straw men
Packer is a fantastic writer, and there's some very good reporting in here as well. His writing on Iraq is both well-observed and emotionally moving. In addition, Packer does great work with the bureaucratic machinations that underlay the US invasion. So this book is worth reading, but with a massive caveat:

Packer spends relatively little time on the American domestic politics of the war, which is a good thing, because he is a piss-poor political analyst, and a deeply dishonest one to boot. His
Khalaf Alshammari
Apr 28, 2012 Khalaf Alshammari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب مهم يعرض الوضع في العراق قبل وبعد الحرب من زوايا ووجهات نظر متعددة.
يصف الكاتب الأحداث التي سبقت الحرب من سوء التحضير والفهم غير الواضح لطبيعة المنطقة من قبل صناع القرار في أمريكا وعدم وضوح الأهداف من الحرب محللا أسباب الفوضى التي نتجت.
ثم يرسم المؤلف تأثير التغييرات بعد الحرب على العراقيين من مختلف الفئات والطبقات عبر شخصيات عايشها وحاورها بنفسه.
Tariq A
عرض مطوَّل لحالة التخبط التي عاشتها الحكومة الأمريكية قبل وأثناء احتلال العراق.
Dylan Suher
Jun 22, 2011 Dylan Suher rated it it was ok
I've long said that George Packer is America's sneakiest writer, and nowhere is it more apparent than in this book. Reading him once again sully those figures opposed to the war, who happened to be exactly right, through innuendo and at the same time champion the likes of Kanan Makiya and Paul Wolfowitz as misguided idealists was nigh on unbearable. Also, he gives short shrift to the industrial side of what one perspicacious UN worker identifies as the "ideological-industrial complex" behind the ...more
Jun 21, 2013 Elliott rated it really liked it
Packer's work is well written, organized, and clearly evokes the individual experience he went through as he reported on Iraq from 2003 and 2004. His insight to the build-up in 2002 and early 2003 is quite insightful, digging at issues deeper than what was readily available to the American public at the time. When he gets into the war, and subsequent 'civil war', of Iraq he is able to navigate Iraqi and American perspectives very well. In fact this is the real strength of his book. He knows all ...more
Jul 21, 2007 Patrick rated it liked it
A really good book for getting at least part of the story of why we ended up in Iraq and why we're letting this unravel on us. Hate to put my cultural bias out on the street, but after getting halfway through I lost interest in the chapters that focus on the Iraqis, as their experiences all seemed to be the same (very bad for them, but with little ability to make any changes for the better). The chapters on the Americans and coalition give us some insight as to why we're having such problems ove ...more
Aug 05, 2007 Sean rated it it was amazing
Packer was an earlier supporter of the war in Iraq, and for that, he deserves to get called out at every event he speaks at. But, he is also an incredible writer, and Assassin’s Gate is the best written book I have read on the war. Packer moves between DC and Iraq from the beginning of the plans for the war to the (almost) present, and you can feel his disgust with the Bush administration grow and his hope for Iraq fail as the book progresses.

Assassin’s Gate is an excellent read, and a good prim
Mar 18, 2016 Kyle rated it really liked it
The first 150 or so pages of this book is a meandering stroll through the intellectual rationalization for the invasion of Iraq. I almost put the book down during that, having read other books (such as "Fiasco") that are a much tighter examination of the Bush administration's mindset.

But I'm glad I didn't. Because what this book ends up being is about the small stories that encapsulate the misadventure in Iraq: the story of Iraqi doctors, soldiers' parents, lower-level staffers at the CPA - the
Brett Mccully
Jan 25, 2015 Brett Mccully rated it liked it
Given the recent rise of ISIS in the Middle East, understanding the origins and character of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has become exceptionally important. In Assassins' Gate, George Packer, a journalist with the New Yorker, covers the lead-up to the war as well as the occupation through 2006. The book is a narrative history, with prominence given to conversations Packer had with government officials, soldiers, scholars, and Iraqis. While this may not grant readers a comprehensive ac ...more
Riccardo Marratzu
I spent quite some time thinking about reading George Packer’s “The Assassins’ Gate” (2005). The topic covered by the book (how America got involved in Iraq) interested me, but I was dubious about reading something written in the first years of the war. I was almost afraid that it couldn’t go sufficiently in depth.
Then a few months ago I watched an episode of Frontline on PBS about the very same topic. George Packer appeared in it several times, interviewed by the authors of the documentary. His
Michael Friedman
Mar 24, 2016 Michael Friedman rated it really liked it
Part history, part memoir, this book details the utter folly of the Bush administration in underestimating and ultimately destroying the country of Iraq through lack of planning, unrealistic vision and lack of understanding of the consequences of the toppling of the Saddam regime. It is a sad commentary on the stupidity and ignorance of the top officials of the bush administration and a president who was oblivious to the reality of what he did and his utter failure to plan for the inevitable. Mr ...more
Jan 07, 2016 Alexis rated it it was ok
Shelves: the-forever-war
I thought that while this seemed well researched, and he certainly spent many hours with top commanders and civilian leaders, he seemed enchanted by the CPA and too willing to forgive them their mistakes. He spent very little, if no, time talking about the effect of the war on the average soldier or the lack of effect the war had on the average American. His analysis of intellectuals associated with the war was much too forgiving, especially of liberals. I wanted to read a history of the Assissi ...more
Michelle Sweet
Sep 05, 2013 Michelle Sweet rated it really liked it
An assigned read - really enjoyed the politics and human stories entwined..worth the read.
Sep 23, 2014 Landstander rated it really liked it
As clear and straightforward an account of this murky mess as one could hope to find. Obviously Packer's reporting on the thoughts and feelings of Iraqis from a variety of backgrounds and social stations with wildly different viewpoints is the highlight. These interactions are especially revealing and incalculably valuable in coming to some sort of understanding of why the situation went so wrong and how, perhaps, it wasn't a foregone conclusion that it would. His forays into the domestic politi ...more
Jason George
Jul 21, 2015 Jason George rated it it was amazing
I really admire George Packer's writing. As someone who tends to be more interesting in reading about the political decision-making process, I appreciated the fact that Packer focused more on the experiences of people "on the ground", such as ordinary Iraqis and American soldiers. The book is also rare in that Packer seeks to move beyond partisanship in his portrayal of the war and seeks to determine what would be the best outcome for the people of Iraq (who were often lost in American political ...more
Apr 12, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-affairs
George Packer has written a truly enlightening and intriguing book about our descent into Iraq. Packer is a lucid and engaging writer who can clearly summarize the intellectual debate between the neoconservatives and the realists. It's also a sad book. Learning how policy is arrived out and then justified and implemented can be very discouraging.

The neocons and Bush had decided to go after Iraq for a variety of reasons before 9/11. The concern then became how to sell that decision. Shortly after
Will Byrnes
The gate referred to in the title is the entryway to the Green Zone. It is not one of the ancient structures one might find in this cradle of civilization but a modern construction put up by Saddam.

Packer begins by looking at the intellectual underpinnings of the Iraq War, not the WMD nonsense, but the neocon extremists who convinced themselves that we had a mission to bring democracy to the Middle East. Their motivations may not have been the same as Cheney’s but they dovetailed well. This is
Jan 29, 2011 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2008 Chris rated it liked it
After finishing Babylon by Bus, I wasn't quite finished thinking about Iraq. LeMoine and Neumann had done a great job of detailing their personal experiences in the country, with occasional wider views to give their experiences some context, but I wanted to know more. So I picked up this book.

It was kind of like.... Like watching the video of the Challenger's last flight. You know what's coming, and you keep wishing it would go another way, but then it's "Shuttle go at throttle up" and there's b
Mar 17, 2008 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-east
I got this book from the school library, and later bought it for my dad for Christmas. George Packer reports from Iraq from the initial days of the invasion until about 2005 or so when the book was published. He details how misguided and ill-conceived the entire Iraq operation was from the beginning, not that this will come as a revelation to anyone. The State Department had written up post-invasion plans that were basically ignored because the pentagon assumed that it wouldn't need them. The Co ...more
Jan 26, 2008 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Packer, a writer for The New Yorker and NY Times Sunday magazine, has taken his various essays on Iraq, from run up to the war to the spring of 2005, and turned them into a book-length report on this controversial war of choice. Even-handed, sharply critical of the execution while being considerate of the ideas behind the execution, Packer describes a war messier and more problematic than its designers allowed themselves to even consider. In the book’s final sentences, Packer quotes one of his s ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Lanier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History and Political buffs
Recommended to Lanier by: Sean H.
Coming home from a night-in-progress, I started this book, thinking, 'S**8 Sean, I'm not into your thick non-Fiction tomes on the wars of meglomaniacal clowns and their cronies,' but I started to really get into the Prologue and finally got it.

I won't lie, it's not the easiest for me to follow, since Sean is the History teacher and fascinated by all things historical. Yet, along the lines of nearly every book pushed on Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert's shows, it's a book I feel I must work to comp
Sep 25, 2007 Andrew rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read that makes a solid effort at understanding what happened/is happening in Iraq, in Washington, on the ground in Iraq and in the communities U.S. soldiers are from. It ties together the different ideological lines (neocons, realists, etc.) and shows how different thinking played into the rush to war. It also shows ideas, however well intentioned, can have disastrous results when reality isn't consulted.
The great thing about this book is that it takes the audience
Apr 24, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This one was really great. Thought-provoking and insightful, it taught me more about the Iraq conflict than anything else I've read. Packer is thorough and engaging, and he presents the war from a variety of points of view. He's great when describing the situation of various Iraqis (a section about Kirkuk, where he juxtaposes Kurdish omplaints/desires for the future against the also at least somewhat justifiable but oftentimes completely opposed Arab complaints/desires, shows the complexity of t ...more
Aug 31, 2007 Aaronc rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is a book written by an American for Americans to understand the war in Iraq from an Iraqi point of view. How George Packer was able to wander Iraq and gather these amazing stories (and win such trust from Iraqis) - and not get killed - is amazing. After reading this book, one cannot help but understand each culture in Iraq (Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd).

One thing I'd really like to stress about this book: CNN and most news agencies do not bring you the true story. They look to me to be handing
May 23, 2014 Absurdfarce rated it it was amazing
Less a history of the war than a first-person account of travels in Iraq and conversations with a wide range of individuals caught up in events surrounding the early days of the U.S. invasion. The war is always present but it's somehow remote, a backdrop that affects the stories Packer tells without being the focus of them.

A wide range of perspectives are represented here, including a U.S. soldier thrust into the role of a civil administrator, an Iraqi intellectual anxious to see Saddam removed
The American Conservative
'While Packer’s reporting on the war’s subsequent course—from within and without the Green Zone—is first rate, this book’s claim to lasting importance lies in its first 60 pages, in which he explores the ideas of the men who conceived of the invasion in the first place. While Washington is now immersed in the issue of whether and how the intelligence about Saddam’s weapons programs was distorted, it is necessary to remember that the squeezing of murky intelligence data to fit a preconceived patt ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Packer has written the most definitive account to date of the Iraq War, thanks to exceptional reporting and wide-ranging research that put the U.S. invasion into its true historical and political context. Even with the outcome of the war uncertain__and no end of the U.S. occupation in sight__The Assassins' Gate will likely stand for years to come as the seminal book chronicling what one critic called "the greatest foreign policy debacle in U.S. history." Critics__who seemed to be opponents of th

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