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Hardcover Naked in Baghdad: The Iraq War as Seen by NPR's Correspondent Book

ISBN: 0374529035

ISBN13: 9780374529031

Naked in Baghdad: The Iraq War as Seen by NPR's Correspondent

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National Public Radio's correspondent provides a brilliant, intimate, on-the-ground account of history in the making with Naked in Baghdad. As NPR's senior foreign correspondent, Anne Garrels has... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

This is no damsel in distress

In this day and age it is hard not to become obsessed with following the news but it is easy to forget that what you read in the newspaper is only half the story. NPR reporter Anne Garrels tells the account of what goes on behind the news as she reports from Baghdad leading up to and during the war. I was also happy to find that Garrels steers clear of the usual journalistic self aggrandizement in writing this incredible compelling book. Weaving together her own daily life in Iraq, the pressures of dealing with the madness of Saddam's bureaucracy and her encounters with regular people, she opens up a whole different world to her readers. This has the effect of humanizing the Iraquies, showing them as neither enemy nor victim as they are so often portrayed to suit the purposes of others but rather showing them as they are. It is also refreshing to read how Garrels also breaks down the traditional barrier between the reporter and the public-showing how Garrels herself is like so many of us in being of two minds regarding the war and its consequences. This thoughtful and powerful account of reporting from the front line should not be missed!

Compelling Personal Account Takes You Right There

First off, the few reviews that slam this book for liberal bias, are far more guilty of prejudging than is Garrells; one wonders if they've even read her work. Her portrait of life under Sadam Hussein is sympathetic only to the citizens who live in terror of speaking freely, not of his repressive regime.As mentioned by other reviewers, Garrells really keeps her focus on the the Iraqi's personal experiences and on her own difficulties try to do her job in a corrupt and dangerous enivronment, not on the politics surrounding the war. Before it even starts, both she and the Iraqis seem to view the war as a virtually unavoidable certainty.The book is also a very compelling portrait of what it's like to be an international journalist, specifically a female international journalist. Additionally, Garrells makes compelling comparissions to her experience in Iraq to her experiences covering another repressive regime, the Soviet Union. If I'd read this book when I was in high school, I might have seriously considered a career in internaitonal journalism. While she doesn't make it seem like a glamorous, safe or easy job, it does come across as one of the most challanging and rewarding.Ms. Garrells is a terrific writer, and this nearly contemporaneous account of the build-up to the Iraq invasion helps flesh out the portrait of a time and place on the brink of war.

A gifted journalist looks at wartime Baghdad

One sentence illuminates the spirit of Anne Garrels' "Naked in Baghdad": ". . . I am fascinated by how people survive, and how the process of war affects the attitudes of all sides involved, and how they pull out of it." Thus, Garrels portrays the attitudes of Iraqis she encounters in Baghdad before, during, and after the entry of American armed forces into that city.For example, Garrels' informants react to the omnipresent threat of catastropic violence. They react to the early and -- it turned out -- wildly optimistic reports of heroic resistance by the Iraqi army (they reacted with pride, even though they might have secretly despised Saddam Hussein). They react to the euphoric surprise of ugraded weaponry employed by the Americans and their allies, as compared to the 1991 war, because it proved more precise and therefor less disruptive of their lives. They react to the rapid deployment of American troops to protect the Oil Ministry building, in contrast to the more leisurely deployment around national treasures such as the antiquities museum, or even hospitals, which were quickly looted. Rightly or wrongly, this latter fact confirmed the belief in the streets of Baghdad that America fought this war for oil.Garrel's renderings of the persons she encounters are compassionate and insightful. Her affection for her guide and all-around enabler, Amer, is palpable. In this sense, "Naked in Baghdad" is reminiscent of Freya Stark's "The Southern Gates of Arabia", based on Stark's 1934 journey through Hadhmaraut.Garrels brings some depth to her reporting from Baghdad under Saddam Hussein. She has reported from the Soviet Union, and she finds parallels between the atmosphere of the Soviet Union and that of Hussein's Iraq. Suffice it to say one does not grow fonder of totalitarian regimes by reading the account of one who has had close contact with them.Several books exist that follow American troops into Baghdad. In contrast, in "Naked in Baghdad" one vicariously waits for the invasion with the people of Baghdad. This book is a worthwhile glimpse into the Iraqi war and the fall of Hussein as perceived by the Iraqi people, filtered through the adroit reporting of an astute Western observer.

Insightful Memoir

Anyone who listened to NPR during the 2003 Gulf War probably heard many of Anne Garrels' reports from Baghdad. She could be heard two or three times a day reporting on events before, during, and after the bombing campaign and subsequent invasion of the city. Garrels reported primarily from the Palestine Hotel, calling in on an illegal satellite phone that she managed to keep hidden from the constant Iraqi security sweeps. The book is a fascinating account of Garrels' time in Baghdad, told through her own journal entries and email updates sent to friends by her husband. It is more about the experiences of a veteran war correspondent than the war itself. As one of only a few American reporters who decided to remain in Baghdad when the bombing campaign began, Garrels displayed remarkable bravery and ingenuity in continuing to file her reports to NPR from a city under seige.I often found myself listening to her reports during the war and wondering what in the world it must be like to be hiding in a hotel room while broadcasting halfway around the world to NPR - and hoping you don't get caught (or killed) while doing so. After reading Naked in Baghdad, it sounds like that wasn't even the most difficult part of her job. The risks she took in going out into the streets to collect the information in order to have something to report every day sounds comparably more difficult.It sounds like Garrells has many more stories to tell from other wars zones (Afghanistan, Chechnya, Pakistan, etc). I look forward to reading more from this reporter.

Excellent account of war-reporting's vagaries

In some ways, Anne Garrels had a extraordinary advantage over print and television reporters who covered the Iraq war last spring. She had no cameras, no tell-tale articles that could be hunted on the Internet by suspicious secret police, no bulky notebooks to mark her as a reporter in a crowd. Only a tape recorder the size of a cigarette pack ... and the sounds of war. She traveled lightly and discreetly, just under the radar of the gatekeepers. Now, "Naked in Baghdad" chronicles Garrels's Iraq assignments between October 2002 and she left after the war in April 2003 -- from under-the-table visa negotiations, to swimming in a stagnating hotel pool to work off stress, to explaining the haunted life of normal Iraqis to normal Americans nine hours behind her."Naked" is intimate, authentic and blunt, without much literary decoration. It's a simple account that offers a real glimpse inside a foreign reporter's life -- and of the grander canvas upon which world events are being painted.Unlike many of the wet-eared young correspondents dispatched to Iraq, Garrels is a hardened veteran, earning her stripes covering conflicts in the West Bank, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Time zones, border crossings, badge-heavy bureaucrats, language barriers, blood and death are her office furniture. Garrels's account is scrupulously impartial. She openly discusses her skepticism about a war based on suspicions about weapons of mass destruction, but bluntly explains Saddam's intolerable degradations. Garrels is, as one might hope, ultimately fair and balanced. Her goal is to capture the nuances and the ripple-effects of war among people who are directly splashed by it -- and such people rarely dictate the spin of news."Naked in Baghdad" certainly adds the most intimate war-reporting in a conflict that changed many of the rules for journalists.
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