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I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story

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At age twenty-five, Michael Hastings arrived in Baghdad to cover the war in Iraq for "Newsweek." He had at his disposal a little Hemingway romanticism and all the apparatus of a twenty-first-century reporter -- cell phones, high-speed Internet access, digital video cameras, fixers, drivers, guards, translators. In startling detail, he describes the chaos, the violence, the never-ending threats of bomb and mortar attacks, the front lines that can be a half mile from the Green Zone, that can be anywhere. This is a new kind of war: private security companies follow their own rules or lack thereof; soldiers in combat get instant messages from their girlfriends and families; members of the Louisiana National Guard watch Katrina's decimation of their city on a TV in the barracks.Back in New York, Hastings had fallen in love with Andi Parhamovich, a young idealist who worked for Air America. A year into their courtship, Andi followed Michael to Iraq, taking a job with the National Democratic Institute. Their war-zone romance is another window into life in Baghdad. They call each other pet names; they make plans for the future; they fight, usually because each is fearful for the other's safety; and they try to figure out how to get together, when it means putting bodyguards and drivers in jeopardy.Then Andi goes on a dangerous mission for her new employer -- a meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters that ends in catastrophe.

Searing, unflinching, and revelatory, "I Lost My Love in Baghdad" is both a raw, brave, brilliantly observed account of the war and a heartbreaking story of one life lost to it.

276 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Michael Hastings

20 books71 followers
Michael Hastings was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. Over a five year span, he regularly covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He started his career at Newsweek magazine in 2002, and was named the magazine’s Baghdad correspondent in 2005. In 2008, he reported on the U.S. presidential elections for Newsweek. His work has appeared in GQ, The Washington Post, the L.A. Times, Slate, Salon, Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and a number of other publications. In 2011, he was awarded the George Polk Award for magazine reporting for his story in Rolling Stone, “The Runaway General.” In 2010, he was named one of Huffington Post’s Game Changers of the year. In 2009, his story Obama’s War, published in GQ, was selected for the Best American Political Writing 2009 anthology (Public Affairs, 2009). He is the author of I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story(Scribner, 2008) and The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan(Little Brown, 2011).

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5 stars
185 (29%)
4 stars
240 (38%)
3 stars
151 (23%)
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44 (6%)
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10 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 101 reviews
Profile Image for Jennifer Phillips.
Author 9 books21 followers
March 1, 2010
This was a tough book to read but I'm glad I found it during one of my random searches of the library shelves. Hastings' account of his time reporting in Iraq puts the day-to-day realities of life for residents and soldiers in your face. And it ain't pretty. It made me embarrassed about little I've understood what was happening over there. I don't think I'm the only one but it has me wanting better information and a clearer sense of why we're doing what we're doing from our leaders going forward about Iraq and Afghanistan. This is one of those stories behind the stories that should be required reading (at minimum) for anyone going into international relations and public policy. If we can't affect the decision-makers in place now, at least start now with the next generation.
Profile Image for Shayna Englin.
24 reviews3 followers
July 9, 2013
I was reminded about this book by the untimely death of its author, and reading it reminded me that we lost a terrific writer and vital truth-teller when Michael Hastings died in a car crash.

A mix of love story and war story, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story recounts Hastings' relationships with Baghdad and his fiance, Andi Parhamovich. Those relationships both supported and brutalized each other, and it's clear from the book that Hastings understood that. Both stories are compellingly and credibly told, though Hastings' understanding of his relationship with Baghdad and the Iraq War comes across as more detailed, nuanced, and interesting (even to him). That said, I wept through the chapters that describe his fiance's final days in Iraq, even knowing what was coming.

I get that this book was controversial for it's timing, just months after Ms. Parhamovich was killed in an ambush in Baghdad. It's full of love and longing for her, but also full of reporting and opinion about the Iraq War, Baghdad, the US military, US policy, and Hastings' own experiences. It doesn't read as exploiting a tragedy so many years after the fact, but I can see how it was perceived that way at the time.

Hastings' writing was accessible, smart, and no-holds-barred. He told the truth as he saw it, and protected no one - not even himself - from his harshest analysis. I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story is worth a read (or a re-read) now that we won't get any more of Hastings' unique voice.
Profile Image for Bethia.
159 reviews2 followers
July 10, 2013
Michael Hastings died recently in a suspicious single-car crash in Los Angeles in the wee morning hours. His body was burned beyond recognition. In this book about the death of his fiancee in Iraq Michael Hastings writes with horror and grief about how she was so badly burned that there was no corpse to view. This Newsweek journalist has written about both the Iraq and Afghanistan war, has imbedded with troops dozens of times for dozens of missions. I wonder, what happened to him on a deserted road in the middle of the night?
7 reviews
May 28, 2012
Ok so we all know what is going to happen when we pick up the book but to me that isn't the most important part of this captivating story. You follow Michael and Andi from the very beginning, until the end, and are not only told the story of their relationship, but the world's story which I think is what makes this story so brilliant. Whilst we all sit on our couches and occasionally see a story about the war in a news segment, there are thousands of people living it everyday and no part of their day is unaffected by the war (as we learn in this book). If you are expecting a rose-tinted romantic story you might be disappointed because it is a story based in reality. However, it is a story definitely worth reading!
Profile Image for Lucy.
24 reviews1 follower
July 11, 2013
I have read many books about Iraq from many perspectives, but never one like this. Michael Hastings is a fearless reporter who sadly lost his life in a car accident a few weeks ago. This book is a fast but well-written read and it made me sad that his life was cut short before he could write more.
Profile Image for Emily.
79 reviews11 followers
February 12, 2010
I picked this one up at the dollar store. Something was bugging me the whole time I read it, and then I realized what it was: from page one, you know the author's girlfriend is going to die in Baghdad, and you might expect her, or their relationship, or Baghdad, to be the central focus of the book. Instead, you get a synopsis of Michael Hasting's career as a war correspondant. A large portion of the book is him recounting the stories he's filed, the imbeds he's been on, etc, interspersed with IM conversations with his girlfriend, Andi. Although she's idolized in the book as an "angel," you don't really get much of sense of who she is beyond the fact that she's idealist enough to follow her boyfriend to Baghdad and help fix the "mess" of Baghdad. Not much time or space devoted to Iraqi life in Baghdad either- the book's at it's best when describing life in the Green Zone. Especially since he often talks about how his career is taking off and doesn't give to much insight into the person/relationship/city it's nominally about, this book in the end felt like a career move, the world weary memoir a correspondant is expected to write. A portion of the proceeds go to the Andi Foundation? Why not all?
Profile Image for Carolyn J..
22 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2009
It has been nine years since a book kept me up all night, reading. Then it was Angela's Ashes. Last night it was I Lost My Love in Baghdad by Michael Hastings. The title doesn't do justice to this Iraq War memoir/love story of a journalist and an activist, both freedom fighters in their respective ideals and goals. Andrea Parmahovich was killed when the convoy she was a passenger in was ambushed by Islamic extremists as she left a meeting that was aimed at fostering communications with Iraqi leaders. She was working in Iraq with a Non-Profit Democratic organization while her fiance covered the war for Newsweek. I've read a number of Iraq War memoirs while co-writing one; this story will stay with readers because even if they can't relate to living and working in Bagdhad, let alone during a war - they may relate to the underlying themes of love, loss, and hopefully - the desire to make a difference in the world, which this one woman indeed did.
Profile Image for Ella.
736 reviews126 followers
February 2, 2018
Too sad for many probably. A story of young love and all of its foibles, trip-wires and nonsense and the horrible grief that comes when a person you love is taken without warning way too young. Surrounded by the worsening state of Iraq, the horrors and indignities our soldiers take for precious little thanks, the ever-increasing propaganda of the Bush white house and the stress that becomes normal when it's all you have, Michael Hastings tells a love story. He is honest about his own shortcomings and ambition, and the story rings very true. He is especially poignant on the inconceivable reality of death even in the midst of war when it is your love taken.
Profile Image for Mustafa Baldawi.
6 reviews4 followers
September 21, 2018
What a book! Reminder of all what I have seen in my hometown Baghdad, and how it destroyed the lives of everyone, whether they realize it or not! War is War, nothing will change about it! And yet, we still in War!
A life-shattering book for real!
1 review1 follower
June 6, 2008
The scope of the tragedy that the war in Iraq has become is revealed with numbing deliberateness in Michael Hastings’ heartbreakingly personal narrative, I Lost My Love in Baghdad. It is one man’s tale of personal loss juxtaposed to the sufferings of a nation in the midst of “low-intensity civil-strife” that leaves war-fatigued American troops with little to do but hope to survive. This recollection of nearly two years of in-country correspondence would not please our country’s leaders one bit, but Hasting defends any “liberal bias” with the sad fact that he really is just reporting the news; most of it is just bad. We get a closer look at the frustrating circumstances confining journalists trying to cover Iraq due to the ever present danger. Nearly 100 journalists have died in Iraq, most of them Iraqi, forcing elaborate security measures to be taken if anyone is to venture out of the small section of Baghdad walled-off from the locals, aptly dubbed the “Green Zone”. The very need for such a medieval tactic (and it is very, VERY necessary) illustrates how debilitating the security situation is. When assisting the occupying force in any way is enough to get one killed, it cannot be said that Iraqis are uncooperative on principle, but there is reason enough to discard the tired by-line alleging that we are widely regarded as liberators; Hastings discovered that the hours spent by Iraqis enjoying their newly-acquired freedom to own satellite TV is being used to watch videos of successful efforts to kill American service-members. Even as the highly-regarded “surge” is put into effect to quell the capital’s rampant violence, the troops are fully aware that their quarry simply hides until the Americans leave and then move right back in. This is also after they’ve been told they were going home.

The heavy geo-political material is secondary, however, to a narrative arc built around an untimely whirlwind romance with edges that aren’t smoothed over, but actually enunciated, since it would be too melodramatic to cultivate hope for a happy ending that isn’t coming. It is a remarkable feat Hastings has accomplished, piecing together the memories of Andi Paramovich, a spirited activist with humanizing intelligence and emotional scars, as we can see that Hastings loved this woman. The complexities of maintaining a distant relationship while pursuing a career are a staple of romantic conflict, but here the lovers are put into the middle of a war-zone, so the urgency is that much more palpable. It’s great to see Hastings indulge the overpowering desire to see history unfold in its most beautifully horrific form (and be the one to break the story) and it is never conflated with humanitarianism. Instead he reflects upon the “War High” that draws so many war correspondents to the front as it did in Vietnam.

It’s a nearly too-convenient-for-real-life turn of events, but Andi’s career-path eventually brings her to Iraq in the hope of helping to install democratic institutions. Confronted by his lingering fears for her safety, and not to mention the hassle of needing an armored escort to see someone living not even ten minutes away, Hastings is directly presented with his competing priorities. Is he a reporter, willing to risk it all for the story? Or is he in a sense risking Andi by not taking a cushier job-offer and settling down? There is no answer, unfortunately, as both of them made their choices in the hopes of doing something constructive. As tragic as Andi’s death at the hands of insurgents is in of itself, the fact is that she was in Iraq to help foster political reconciliation; in a work of fiction this would be a poignant display of dramatic irony, but her death’s basis in reality only makes the injustice that much more upsetting.
Profile Image for Lauren.
94 reviews
August 19, 2013
The end of this book is completely devastating, as you would expect. The rest of it, however, is a very powerful look at the daily life for reporters in Iraq as well as what the U.S. military was facing there. As for the romance, it is real, too. These people are real people and it's not a movie (or storybook) romance. They are flawed.

It is worth reading for nothing else but to remember both of these people.
Profile Image for Darla.
43 reviews3 followers
October 18, 2015
Extremely well written. I think what makes this story so beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time is that Michael and Andi were both pursuing their dreams and professional goals by working in Baghdad and it is ultimately what cost Andi her life. With Michael losing his life in 2013, there is something even more tragic about this book. Two people who were on the path to change the world, both killed in unbelievable circumstances.
Profile Image for Brandy.
465 reviews3 followers
June 10, 2008
I thought that this book was a very REAL look at what is going on in Baghdad, as well as a heart wrenching story of losing someone close to you that you love. I can't imagine losing my significant other, and this was just a real wake up call reminding one that we are never promised tomorrow.
Profile Image for Nicole.
191 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2012
Excellent writing. The story is a fascinating look at the war in Iraq. I enjoyed the journalist's take on the situation there, and the book only made me even more certain that the war in Iraq was a huge mistake. The story is a tragedy for Iraq and for America.
Profile Image for Melissa Tetrault.
3 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2014
Very well written. Michael made me feel like I was in Baghdad. I learned a lot about Iraq and Baghdad. He was an exceptional journalist and writer. A purveyor of truth.
Profile Image for Libby.
9 reviews4 followers
July 12, 2012
this guy has lived several lives. am in awe of him.
88 reviews
November 14, 2017
I am conflicted about this book. On one hand, it is an engaging, gripping account from a provocative and prolific combat journalist during a particularly volatile time in Iraq (2005-2007). Hastings' writing is insightful; he sees the conflict firsthand as an embed with U.S. forces and has a series of remarkable experiences on the front lines. On the other, the framing of this book is around Hastings' relationship with a young aid worker, Andi, who transitions from being a successful publicist in New York City to being a democracy rights advocate in Baghdad in order to be closer to Hastings and soon after arriving in Iraq loses her life in targeted terrorist attack. Throughout the book their relationship comes second to Hastings' work with Newsweek and is rather uncomfortable to read; though Hastings frequently mentions how much they loved each other, all of the communication shared in the book suggests a young relationship marked by insecurity, jealousy, and emotional immaturity. Frequency of communication is used as a substitute for depth of emotional connection. We know that Hastings found his girlfriend attractive, brilliant, and many other nice adjectives, but the deep reflection he shows toward writing about war is never applied to his own relationship; readers of his book never really get a sense of who Andi was outside of her often insecure and fragile communication with Hastings. For a book whose title evokes their love, this seems like a remarkable disservice to Andi's life. As Hastings firmly puts himself and his experiences at the center of this book, it seems like the book would have been better as a focused war memoir dedicated to his lost love rather than a rather shallow portrayal of their collective story.
Profile Image for Noha.
21 reviews4 followers
December 8, 2017
Well it took me more than a year, but I’m finally done. It’s a refreshing perspective on the Iraq war, despite the writer being American. It’s sad and heartfelt and I probably hate the dirty games of politics more than ever now.
But if I get away with one thing of this books it’s this:
“War always wins.”
It destroys lives of civilians and soldiers alike, while the people who decided to go to war at the first place get away relatively unharmed.
168 reviews39 followers
August 3, 2018
This was a really sad book. Michael was an exact writer and an excellent person. I miss talking to him.
May 27, 2019
A heartbreaking tale of war and love. Only thing that would have made it better would be Michael Hastings, the author, still being around.
Profile Image for Mike.
544 reviews
January 1, 2022
If you're looking for a book that will hit you like a ton of bricks, this is for you.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
6 reviews1 follower
November 1, 2014
“I Lost My Love in Baghdad” is a straightforward title for a book about a war correspondent whose girlfriend was killed by Sunni extremist during the Iraqi war.

I love wartime stories so I bought the book on a whim and finished it months ago.

I do not know which subject fascinated me more – the reckless, action packed war or the gently evolving love story embedded in the author's layered descriptions of daily fighting and survival.

Reading the book, you are intrigued to learn more about the war, then you slowly become captivated and curious about this young adventurous couple, their budding relationship and struggles.

But you don’t want the story to end. Because you know, it will end badly.

This is a story about a journalist trying to write about love and the consequences of war...

And in January 2007, just mere months after Andi followed Michael in Baghdad, she and her convoy of 3 bodyguards were ambushed by Sunni extremists on the way to a meeting.

I almost believed that Michael’s life had a happy ending.

He married. Won awards. Went back to the States to write hard hitting stories and controversial articles.

Articles so fact driven that it caused the end of a general’s career.

Then at 33, he was killed in a car crash.

And many are left to think if it was indeed an accident. Michael's recent stories feature government secrets and the NSA.

What happened to Michael and to Andi brought to mind one of my favorite quotes on love and losing it:

At some point of your life, you will become aware that some people can stay in your heart but not in your life. ― Anonymous

Michael was a better man because of what he experienced with Andi.

But my world is a lot lonelier now that he is lost.

Such a young life cut short. And with it, the possibilities of truth and of more fascinating stories.

Rest in peace, Michael Hastings.
Profile Image for Ann.
764 reviews13 followers
October 29, 2013
This book just made me angry; angry at Micheal and Andi for dying so young; angry at Bush & Cheney for getting us involved in this unnecessary war: angry about how badly run this was was.

I already knew about this book and had always wanted to read it. I remember Michael's tragic death and watched Rachel Maddow & Fareed Zakariah trying to hold it together as they reported it. We have so few real reporters, so losing one so talented and young was just horrific.

This was Micheal's first book written at the age of 28. He was trying to build a career as a war correspondent and a life with his fiance, Andi Parhamovich. As the youngest war correspondent, he felt strongly that his job came first which led to problems with Andi who, of course, felt she should come first. Andi naively decides to follow him to Baghdad, thinking that would make them closer. She takes a job with the National Democratic Institute, a Washington based non-profit organization, just a few blocks from the Green Zone where he is stationed. She doesn't really understand that going a few blocks in Baghdad in 2005, is a death wish. She plans a meeting with the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country's largest Sunni party, at their headquarters. It was a setup and she was killed in a horrific fight. The lack of security was such a scandal that the organization was force to move out of Baghdad shortly after her death.

This is definitely worth reading, because he is such an amazing writer. Your feel like you can smell, see and hear the fog of war. You feel the frustration of the troops and the translators. I plan to read his other book and wish he and Andi were still around. I miss their voices.

Profile Image for Joshua.
13 reviews1 follower
August 27, 2008
I will be traveling to Baghdad this Fall and, like Hastings, will leave behind loved ones and a relationship. I can relate to the feelings that he has; being torn between being in love and the desire to contribute to "something" through a meaningful career. I respect the way Hastings honors his fiance's memory by writing about her passion, aspirations and courage.

There are points in the book, however, that he should have thought through a bit better. There is no way someone who gets to go home once every two months (i.e., war correspondent) can truly understand the trials that our Soldiers face leaving their families for up to 9 months at a time. His recounting of the stress he feels trying to get home rings hollow in comparison to many of my colleagues who have deployed numerous times, none less than 6 months at a time.

Also, he is a bit self-centered in how he captures this story. I would have liked to hear more from her perspective. As a reporter, Hastings could have interviewed his fiance's family and friends to cover her in a bit more depth.

All told, this was a good read and I would recommend it.
Profile Image for Amie.
998 reviews28 followers
January 22, 2011
The title is really just the hook to get you in. I'd say only 25% of it is dedicated to the autobiographical love story of Andi and Michael, the rest is about Middle Eastern politics, how Michael became a reporter, life in Baghdad, and all the many horrible things he saw while over in Iraq.

I was a little disappointed at first to realize that this was just another war book, cleverly disguised as a romance of sorts, but once I got past that, I decided to keep reading to gain a better education (at least one view's worth) of life in the middle of a war zone.

It was hard to read, but I'm glad I did. (Actually I listened to it on CD, read by Michael Hastings himself) It gave me a better appreciation for our soldiers, for the oh-so-NOT-black-and-white situations associated with the current war, and just how awesome our own country is.

Caution: the F-word is Michael's favorite. He uses it quite liberally, especially the chapter in which Andi dies.
Profile Image for Jackie.
54 reviews
August 11, 2013
I learned about this book when Chris Hayes on MSNBC memorialized Michael Hastings the day after a car accident took his life. (Hastings was the journalist who wrote the Rolling Stone article about General Stanley McChrystal and brought down his career.) The book gives an insight into the life of a war journalist, the dangers, the tedium, the havoc it wreaks on a relationship. His assignments in Iraq encouraged his girlfriend to take a job in Baghdad with the National Democratic Institute, a Washington-based organization that provides training and material to political parties and the news media in fragile democracies. I think the war story is more illuminating than the love story, perhaps because I liked the man he was as a journalist versus how he fared as a boyfriend torn between wanting to be with Andi but wanting to take assignments that would further his career. I understand that dilemma between the two and am saddened by the frightening and tragic end to their story.
Profile Image for Meri.
981 reviews25 followers
December 7, 2013
So while I was reading The Goldfinch, which was the best book I have read all year, I was also reading this one. It may have gotten three stars if it wasn't for that unfortunate juxtaposition. Unfortunately, that literary masterpiece made this one into even more of a dud. Michael Hasting's descriptions of wartime Baghdad were interesting. I never knew what happened to someone once they were killed in action. Now I do. On the other hand, the love story was terrible. I was not remotely convinced that Hastings ever loved this woman. His descriptions of life as a war correspondent were vivid and insightful, yet he couldn't come up with a way to describe his relationship with Andi, or Andi herself, that sounded even affectionate, much less in love. He felt the need to throw in inane IM conversations between the two of them. It felt a little like this was his Baghdad book, and he just tossed Andi in there because she became his hook. The poor woman deserved better.
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