Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Recent Reading: Reporter Anne Garrel's 'Naked in Baghdad'

AltTulsa has been working our way through a stack of Iraq War books lately, the better to understand what happened in that war—and why.

Our latest volume is Naked in Baghdad, an account of the Iraq invasion by Anne Garrels of National Public Radio, who was in the Iraqi capital before, during and after the U.S. attack in 2003.

Garrels puts a human face on the citizens of Baghdad as well as the international press gang that found itself holed up at the Palestine Hotel. She describes the hardships of reporting under the suspicious eye of Saddam Hussein's minders and bureaucrats.

Needless to say, Iraqi corruption, bribery and harassment were part of the daily ritual.

One of the delights of the story is Amer, her driver, minder and fixer. He proves invaluable to Garrels when living conditions in Baghdad deteriorate and the search for news becomes nearly impossible. Garrels makes clear that Amer is a complex and honorable man, torn between his distaste for Saddam and his loyalty to his nation.

Naked in Baghdad is a compelling book, enlivened by Garrels's gritty personality and, back home, her husband's support.

Garrel's is one tough reporter and it's clear that she risked her life to bring the invasion to millions of U.S. listeners.

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