Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Virginia in the Vanguard or Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Virginia in the Vanguard: Political Leadership in the 400-Year-Old Cradle of American Democracy, 1981-2006

Author: Frank B Atkinson

Virginia in the Vanguard continues the story begun in The Dynamic Dominion, detailing the resurgence of Virginia's Democratic Party in the 1980s and the Republicans' efforts to turn back the gains made by Chuck Robb and Douglas Wilder. It closes with Democrat Tim Kaine taking the governor's seat and former Republican and Democratic governors George Allen and Mark Warner poised to enter the 2008 presidential primaries.

Table of Contents:
Preface : flood tide of freedom
IRobb, Wilder, and the Democratic decade : 1981-1992
1Reversal of fortune : the Democratic Southern strategy3
2The watershed Robb victory of 198117
3Improbable journey : Wilder's way to the top47
4Swinging suburbs : making money and making history83
IIGeorge Allen and the "Virginia renaissance" : 1993-1999
5Reagan populism and the positive politics of reform123
6From insurgent to insider : the 1993 Allen landslide153
7John Warner and the politics of independence179
8New world : America's oldest legislature transformed217
IIIMark Warner and the "sensible center" : 2000-2006
9Taxing times and the tactic of bipartisanship261
Epilogue : a concluding reflection on Virginia's legacy of freedom297

Interesting textbook: War on the Middle Class or Coloniality at Large

Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone

Author: Rajiv Chandrasekaran

The Green Zone, Baghdad, 2003: in this walled-off compound of swimming pools and luxurious amenities, Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority set out to fashion a new, democratic Iraq. Staffed by idealistic aides chosen primarily for their views on issues such as abortion and capital punishment, the CPA spent the crucial first year of occupation pursuing goals that had little to do with the immediate needs of a postwar nation: flat taxes instead of electricity and deregulated health care instead of emergency medical supplies.

In this acclaimed firsthand account, the former Baghdad bureau chief of The Washington Post gives us an intimate portrait of life inside this Oz-like bubble, which continued unaffected by the growing mayhem outside. This is a quietly devastating tale of imperial folly, and the definitive history of those early days when things went irrevocably wrong in Iraq.

The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani

Mr. Chandrasekaran, an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post and the paper's former Baghdad bureau chief, spent nearly two years reporting from Iraq, and in Imperial Life in the Emerald City he draws a vividly detailed portrait of the Green Zone and the Coalition Provisional Authority…that becomes a metaphor for the administration's larger failings in Iraq…By focusing closely on the goals, initiatives and missteps of individuals involved in the Coalition Provisional Authority, Mr. Chandrasekaran is able to re-examine the mix of motives involved in the American invasion and the roles that hubris, idealism and denial played in shaping the occupation. His book gives the reader a visceral—sometimes sickening—picture of how the administration and its handpicked crew bungled the first year in postwar Iraq, showing how decisions made in that period contributed to a burgeoning insurgency and growing ethnic and religious strife.

The New York Times Book Review - Michael Goldfarb

It would have been worthwhile if Chandrasekaran had given us a greater sense of what he thought about overthrowing Hussein and, more to the point, what he felt upon returning to Washington after having seen the bloody result of its policies. But that is a philosophical difference I have with the author. This is a clearly written, blessedly undidactic book. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand how things went so badly wrong in Iraq.

Publishers Weekly

As the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, Chandrasekaran has probably spent more time in U.S.-occupied Iraq than any other American journalist, and his intimate perspective permeates this history of the Coalition Provisional Authority headquartered in the Green Zone around Saddam Hussein's former palace. He presents the tenure of presidential viceroy L. Paul Bremer between May 2003 and June 2004 as an all-too-avoidable disaster, in which an occupational administration selected primarily for its loyalty to the Bush administration routinely ignored the reality of local conditions until, as one ex-staffer puts it, "everything blew up in our faces." Chandrasekaran unstintingly depicts the stubborn cluelessness of many Americans in the Green Zone-like the army general who says children terrified by nighttime helicopters should appreciate "the sound of freedom." But he sympathetically portrays others trying their best to cut through the red tape and institute genuine reforms. He also has a sharp eye for details, from casual sex in abandoned offices to stray cats adopted by staffers, which enable both advocates and critics of the occupation to understand the emotional toll of its circuslike atmosphere. Thanks to these personal touches, the account of the CPA's failures never feels heavy-handed. (Sept. 22) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

What People Are Saying

"Rajiv Chandrasekaran has not given us "another Iraq book." He has given us a riveting tale of American misadventure. . . . He shows us American idealism and voyeurism, as well as the deadly results of American hubris. And by giving us the first full picture from inside the Green Zone, he depicts a mission doomed to failure before it had even been launched."
---Samantha Power, author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

"This is a dazzling, important, and entertaining work of reportage about the American civilians who tried to remake Iraq, and about the strange, isolated city-state in Baghdad where they failed. Every American who wants to understand how and why things went so badly wrong in Iraq should read this book."
---Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars

"This amazing book pulls back the curtains of deception and reveals in stunning fashion what really went on inside the Emerald City in the crucial year after the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Chandrasekaran's reporting is vivid and relentless as he documents the mix of idealism, confidence, energy, hubris, political miscalculation, cultural blindness, and fantastical thinking of those who came to save Iraq yet made a difficult situation worse."
---David Maraniss, author of They Marched Into Sunlight

"An extraordinarily vivid and compelling anatomy of a fiasco. Imperial Life in the Emerald City is an indispensable saga of how the American liberation of Iraq turned to chaos, calamity, and civil war. Chandrasekaran takes us inside Baghdad's Green Zone as no one else has."
---Rick Atkinson, author of The Long Gray Line

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