Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War
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Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  522 ratings  ·  123 reviews
A National Book Award Finalist

A few weeks after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, journalist Megan K. Stack was thrust into Afghanistan and Pakistan, dodging gunmen, prodding warlords for information, and witnessing the changes sweeping the Muslim world. Every Man in This Village Is a Liar is her riveting story of what she saw in the combat zones and beyond....more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Anchor (first published 2010)
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Stack uses language like a paintbrush in this memoir of her time covering the Middle East and South Asia as a reporter for the L.A. Times. In fact, she became a foreign correspondent by accident: being in Europe when the Twin Towers fell, she stumbled into Afghanistan. Throughout the book I have highlighted passages that capture light:
I left Afghanistan--the light that falls like powder on the poppy fields, the mortars stacked like firewood in broken-down sheds at the abandoned terror compounds,
Every Man in This Village Is a Liar is one of the most moving works--whether books, magazines, newspaper or online articles--I've read about America's War on Terror and the long term consequences of Western meddling (or not-so-benevolent neglect) in Middle Eastern politics since the discovery of oil under Saudi Arabian sands, the creation of Israel, and the start of the Cold War. Megan Stack does, in these hysterical times when there's a terrorist hiding under every bed, the impossible: she huma...more
Hmmm - I have a lot of non-fiction.

The cover, title and flap sucked me in. She writes for the L A Times - figured she would be a better writer. If you can wade through the flowery language and imagery that she piles on, the experience is pretty interesting. But, she's a war correspondent - put on your big girl panties and write like one.
Claire Grasse
Afhanistan. Iraq. Iran. Israel. Palestine. Libya. Syria. Yemen.

Megan Stack has given us a conscience-ripping look at the wars in the Middle East, the mostly-civilian casualties, and the utter, irredeemable waste of it all. For the most part the author doesn't attempt to take sides or to make political statements. She just presents the things she saw and heard and smelled, in all their tragedy and horror - the things the media won't show us, and lets America make up its own mind about what the bl...more
'Stars' subtracted off for silly writing style. The last 1/4 of the book is very good, though, and redeems itself. Much has already been said about the contents so I will not repeat. My problem (only 3 stars) is the irregular quality of the writing. When Megan Stack writes as a reporter I appreciated the story. Factual from her viewpoint, straight forward, gripping. But then, too often she writes as if she is a novelist (albeit not a very good one, in my opinion.) Too many (silly) similes and ri...more
Megan K. Stack spent years as a war journalist in the Middle East and her writing about her time there is superb. It's a hard book for me because I was for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and yet what you see from her writing is that the people suffering mostly end up being innocent civilians. She also writes about problems in Jordan, Lybia, Lebanon, Israel, etc.. I think this next quote abtly describes the overall feeling in her book:

"I am covering the wars. It all matters. It is worth everyth...more
Rebecca Olson
This was one of the best books I've read in years - and I don't usually enjoy non-fiction. It is an incredibly beautiful, moving account of a journalist's time in the Middle East this past decade. It is difficult to describe what the book is about, and I hesitate to write anything at all because I won't do her work justice. Her account is interesting because it is both fact-based journalism and personal observation; I got the feeling that the impulse for the book was stories (or seeds of stories...more
Paul Mullen
Megan Stack's memoir of being a reporter in just about every trouble-stricken country of the Middle East is a shocker. I gave it 4 stars because of the way it stretched me, not because "I really liked it" as the pop-up guidance suggests for 4 stars.

Her ability to describe with simile and carefully chosen illustration is so good that you can almost smell the smells and hear the sounds. At times I smiled at how creative her prose was to the point where I may have missed her point.

But her point in...more
"You can survive and not survive, both at the same time."

War on Terror! Manifest or farce? Megan Stack, a foreign correspondent for the LA Times, attempts to answer that question. Shortly after 9/11, Stack found herself thrust into the Middle East, spending the next six years, in various hot zones: Afghanistan, occupied Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Saudi Arabia and a few others.
Stack’s first hand account of many atrocities is eye-opening and gut-wrenching. She befriends a variety of people in ea...more
Melanie Cowley
This book was so well written, and so educational. She takes the reader to all of these middle eastern cities, and I loved the way she made me feel that I was there. Every night I would dream of the sights, smells, people, and food that she would describe. I loved that she volunteered to cover all of these stories, it made me feel so incredibly lucky to be born in the USA.
This book was an absolutely stunning memoir. Stacks has an unbelievable way with prose, and offering some of the most vivid "showing" I've read in any work. Her observations in Libya and Yemen were especially interesting, making me question the role of government in people's lives. She offered new insight as to issues of war and the Middle East, which is unusual, since at this point I feel a bit as thought I've read it all. I would highly suggest this book to anyone interested in the Middle East...more
The title of this book is deceptive. You would think it's the report of a soldier's combat experience in Iraq or Afghanistan but it's the reporting of an American woman jounalist of her travels in the Middle East. The title makes you pause and reflect on what is really the truth after reading her many vignettes. She is everywhere it seems: Yemen, Israel, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc..; and she is in the greatest danger when in Lebanon. She is in every sense a soldier with a pen as...more
Miss GP
This book should be required reading for any US politician or general even considering meddling in other countries. Stack provides a first-hand report of what it's like to live in a war zone, concentrating on the human costs of US policies regarding the Middle East. Moving, heartfelt, painful, and unforgettable.
This book was simultaneously difficult to read and difficult to put down. Stack's portrayal of the people she encountered was very human, even when the characters were highly unsympathetic. My favorite chapter was the one in which she spent time in Libya, for its description of the ongoing tension of being there. I also really appreciated the theme about how it is possible to simultaneously survive and not survive. Ultimately, I subtracted a star because by the end of the book I wasn't sure what...more
While there is a lot to be learned from this book about how war gets a person, whole groups of people, whole countries down, I don't think it's written very strongly.

Since she's a journalist I think using that voice combined with her own thoughts would be more effective then the weird, almost saccharine voice that tries to be poetic. It's a real contradiction to what she is writing about which is how war is the opposite of things like poetry, so to go to the language she uses is odd.

However, sh...more
Alex Rogers
Very good! I am no longer reading much about Middle Eastern current affairs, I find it just too depressing and repetitive. But I picked this up for some reason, and was simply hooked - Stack carries off that rare trick of marrying objective journalism with a strong flavour of culture and place, tied together with excellent writing. You feel her reaching for optimism and touches of beauty, and then feel for her as she is overwhelmed by ancient hatreds, misogyny, and calculated cynicism from all p...more
This book got better with time; started off as a 3 star, moved towards 3.5, and finished with a solid 4 star landing. Meghan Stack is a war reporter who spent years in the Middle East reporting on "The Region."

Ms. Stack is even-handed in her criticisms and blame throughout the book as she details the conflicts. It becomes clear that the problems in the Middle East, including the various involvement of America, are complex, with no simple fix. Each chapter tells a different story and highlights t...more
I am biased. Megan and I grew up in the same town, swam on the high school swim team and graduated together. I remember being on a soccer team once with her sister, and her mother was editor of our town newspaper. Even though I haven't seen Megan in many years, my hometown loyalty is such that even if this were the worst book ever written - which it is not - I'd say it was great.
War is generally not something I choose to read about. I also know embarrassingly little about the Middle East, whethe...more
This was an interesting book. I'm not sure how to quite all take it -- I don't agree with the writer's attitude that the world is a depressing, hopeless place. She has obviously seen a lot of war and death -- and that has stayed with her as she has traveled and reported in the 21st Century war zones. I guess I was frustrated with her because she seems to feel strongly, yet does not do anything about it. Either she should be putting more effort into changing the things she feels strongly about an...more
A very sobering, difficult book to read, but I'm not sorry I did. So often I feel as if I live in a kind of bubble in the US - and outside that bubble are all the wars we've been involved in as a country (not to mention a number of others) ever since I was born. Megan Stack has been reporting on war, terrorism and political Islam since 2001 in over 20 countries. In this book, she brings the complex realities and baffling confusions and terrible horrors of the wars I hear about on the news all th...more
I enjoyed this book much more than I expected I would. I had put off reading it (as I had a large pile of books from the library to pick from), not quite sure if I wanted to tackle a political book full of violence. But, to be honest, the book is a pretty fast read. Megan is a very good writer, which should not come as a surprise given that she's an experienced journalist (knowing how to get to the point and write in a concise way that keeps your attention without losing the details).

The book i...more
From Publishers Weekly

An American reporter takes in one Middle East cataclysm after another in this searing memoir. Los Angeles Times correspondent Stack covered the war in Afghanistan after Sept. 11, then bounced around to other hot-spot postings, including Israel during the second Intifada, occupied Baghdad, and southern Lebanon during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Stack offers gripping accounts of the sorrows of war, especially of the traumas Afghan and Lebanese civilians

Mr. Davies
This book is a polemical masterpiece -- at least if you side with Ms. Stack's view of American foreign policy. She collects essays from her time stationed in Cairo, Egypt, a vantage point from which she ventured to and from military hot zones like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.

She revels in uncovering double-standards and conflicting interests. She points out the irony in the anti-American statements of McDonald's patrons (122) and in the use of American manufactured tear gas against pro-democ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The author, an LA Times reporter covering the Middle East, offers a unique view of the impact that the post-9/11 events have had on people living in the area. The story of Nora, her pro-Western translator in Jordan, and her disillusionment after the Abu Ghraib scandal was haunting:

“It’s pretty bad, huh, Megan.”
“Yeah, it’s bad,” I said. “But are you really surprised?”
Her eyes flickered. “Of course!”
But Nora, it’s war. These soldiers are kids. What do you think happens?”
“But Megan,” her habit of r
Kevin Fanning
Here is my review, which I wrote in an email to my friend Michael-Ann:

Hey! So I really liked that book. It's interesting, it's different. I'm really curious to hear your take on it. The thing is that it's written in a very painterly style, with a VERY high metaphor to sentence ration. Like at times she piles so many similes on a page that the whole thing threatens to crumble. Ultimately I felt OK with it, it's a very impressionistic, episodic style here, rather than a straightforward narrative,...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘You can survive and not survive, both at the same time.’

A number of books have been written by journalists and others about the events in Iraq and Afghanistan following the events of September 11 2001. This book offers a different perspective. On 11 September, Megan Stack, a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, was holidaying in Paris. Shortly after, she was assigned to Afghanistan to cover the US invasion. From there, she travelled to Iraq and Lebanon, to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Li...more
After I finished Every Man in This Village Is a Liar on the train today, I walked home up the hill asking myself: what compels me to read these books about war? It's obviously not because I need to be convinced about how horrible it is. The best answer I could come up with was that I simply want to know what it’s really like. To have someone who was an eyewitness tell me: I stared war right in the face, I saw it tear people's lives apart. There is something harrowingly addictive, at least for a...more
Whilst I found much about this book to admire it didnt totally grip me the way I expected it might. It is the writings and reflections of an American journalist travelling through various Middle Eastern countries following September 11. She is honest in her acknowledgement that all is not always as it may be presented; ie America is not always wonderful. She relates many many stories of ordinary citizens and the true effects of war (not what the politicians would have us believe). She says of he...more
It is difficult not to be moved by Los Angeles Times correspondent, Megan Stack’s foray into the world’s most tempestuous war zones, and it is impossible not to feel helpless, hopeless and very angry at the global war machine that fights often without reason or favour. It is also impossible not to weigh your humanity when confronted with the stories of the regular people who are most often made to suffer for the misplaced aggression of old men. Stack reports from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Paki...more
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n+1 Issue 11: Dual Power

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“Here is the truth: It matters, what you do at war. It matters more than you ever want to know. Because countries, like people, have collective consciences and memories and souls, and the violence we deliver in the name of our nation is pooled like sickly tar at the bottom of who we are. ... We may wish it were not so, but action amounts to identity. We become what we do.” 4 likes
“You can overcome the things that are done to you, but you cannot escape the things that you have done.
Here is the truth: It matters, what you do at war. It matters more than you ever want to know. Because countries, like people, have collective consciences and memories and souls, and the violence we deliver in the name of our nation is pooled like sickly tar at the bottom of who we are. The soldiers who don't die for us come home again. They bring with them the killers they became on our national behalf, and sit with their polluted memories and broken emotions in our homes and schools and temples. We may wish it were not so, but action amounts to identity. We become what we do.You can tell yourself all the stories you want, but you can't leave your actions over there. You can't build a wall and expect to live on the other side of memory. All of the poison seeps back into our soil.”
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