The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
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The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,593 ratings  ·  140 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...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 22nd 2005)
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R.f.k
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...more
Susan
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
Marc
Mar 02, 2008 Marc rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Khalaf Alshammari
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.
Dylan Suher
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
Elliott
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
Patrick
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
Sean
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...more
Michelle Sweet
An assigned read - really enjoyed the politics and human stories entwined..worth the read.
Eric_W
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...more
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...more
Patrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris
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...more
Nick
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
Rick
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
Lanier
Apr 09, 2012 Lanier rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Andrew
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...more
Matt
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
Aaronc
Aug 31, 2007 Aaronc rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Absurdfarce
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...more
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

...more
John
This is basically essential reading for everyone, everywhere. I've always been amazed by Packer's writing for the New Yorker on Iraq, and this book, which compiles all those articles (and much more) into a unitary document, is the most comprehensive and readable work of journalism dealing with the war to date. Particularly valuable is Packer's long strange trip into the heads of the guys who planned the war - if you want a really thorough summary of the sometimes-impenetrable rationale behind go...more
Daniel
whoa ... i had no idea ... it sounds like the State department's plan for iraq was ignored by the administration because it was too "realist"; instead of just inserting a friendly puppet into the existing power-structure as was the standard operating procedure in the cold war, the neocons actually wanted to hustle a part of the arab world through a blitzkrieg Enlightenment and into a modern, liberal tradition of rights-based government.

(i had always thought of the chalabi plan as being the puppe...more
matt

If you only read one book about the Iraq War, make it this one.

Top to bottom, stem to stern. From the thought processes of Bush's White House to actual on the ground reporting in Baghdad, Packer takes you everywhere.

He is a direhard liberal who supported this war so there is no need to worry about his being too myopic. You meet fascinating people whom you probably won't hear about in everyday news and who are shaping history as we speak.

Small vingettes and large canvasses, ruminations and well-t...more
Harperjj Harper
Details that will certainly add to your frustrations over the mishandling of the the Iraq War, pre- and post-invasion.

More than anything else, Packer George Packer puts a human face on the Iraqis, who are all to often forgotten while we engage in partisan debates of whether this is an occupation or a liberation, and US soldiers, who are shown as human beings (brave, intelligent, frustrated, scared, angry) and not just bumper sticker fodder.

While Packer certainly has his views on the invasion an...more
Marik Casmon
As if it were needed, here is another book on the clumsy and unnecessary behavior of the U.S. in its ongoing efforts against a nation that did not attack the U.S. Well-written. Confirms the necessity of America's lack of confidence in its leaders.
Russell
This book chronicles the build up to the invasion of Iraq (full of hubris) and the brisk unravelling of the occupation.

I believe it was published in 2005, so it really only covers 3 years.

It's a good book. It's real. The author, I believe, realizes that it's foolish to tie such a recent series of events together with a theory. So, it feels disjointed.

My one quibble: The author definitely brings up the jewish neo-con factor. Was it in passing, just to acknowledge it, or was it a wink at some sup...more
Russ
A mesmerizing, yet highly disturbing read. Traces the Iraq war from its intellectual underpinnings to its botched implementation. Packer, who "New Yorker" readers will recognize, is both an excellent reporter and an excellent writer. My one complaint was that there could have been a bit more written on the machinations inside the Whitehouse. There is definitely an element of this, but Packer's access to CPA officials and the like is so great, it would have been nice to here a bit more about what...more
Larry
The New York Times reporters deep look at Iraq and the U.S. debacle there ends with the first free election and with some optomism. Subsequent history has made that "light at the end of the tunnel" scenario vaporous. Packer's stories of real Iraqi's lives are penetrating, illuminating and sad. Unfortuately, about the time his story ends the situation became so unsafe that obtaining the common man's views on the street became impossible. This work lays bare the hubris and ineptitude of the Bush /...more
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