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Standard Operating Procedure

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Standard Operating Procedure Cover

ISBN13: 9781594201325
ISBN10: 1594201323
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Standard Operating Procedure is a war story that takes its place among the classics. It is the story of American soldiers who were sent to Iraq as liberators only to find themselves working as jailers in Saddam Hussein's old dungeons, responsible for implementing the sort of policy they were supposed to be fighting against. It is the story of a defining moment in the war, and a defining moment in our understanding of ourselves — the story of the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs of prisoner abuse, as seen through the eyes, and told through the voices, of the soldiers who took them and appeared in them. It is the story of how those soldiers were at once the instruments of a great injustice and the victims of a great injustice.

In a tradition of moral and political reckoning, and all-powerful story-telling, that runs from Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness and Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Grand Inquisitor to Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song, Philip Gourevitch has written a relentlessly surprising and perceptive account of the front lines of the war on terror. Drawing on more than two hundred hours of Errol Morris's startlingly frank and intimate interviews with the soldier — photographers who gave us what have become the iconic images of the Iraq war, Standard Operating Procedure is a book that makes you see, and makes you feel, and above all makes you think about what it means to be human. It is an utterly original book that stands to endure as essential reading long after the current war in Iraq passes from the headlines — a work of searing power from two of our finest masters of nonfiction, working at the peak of their powers.

Review:

Even before the U.S. government seized control of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the correctional facility 20 miles from Baghdad had been a factory of torture and annihilation. Under Saddam Hussein's demented administration, the prison was a death house where beatings and hangings were commonplace. Constructed in the mid-'60s by British engineers with American blueprints, the campus-like penal colony was... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"What Standard Operating Procedure, the book, does...with remarkable power, is conjure the atmosphere and conditions at Abu Ghraib that existed during the period in which the photographed abuses occurred." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Review:

"[Gourevitch]weaves Morris' interviews, court transcripts and journalists' accounts into a compelling story of a prison plan gone wrong." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[O]ne of the most devastating of the many books on Iraq." Raymond Bonner, New York Times

Review:

"If you thought you heard the whole story of Abu Ghraib prison, think again. Here is the rest of the story." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Synopsis:

The first full reckoning of what actually happened at Abu Ghraib prison-"one of the most devastating of the many books on Iraq" (The New York Times Book Review)

A relentlesly surprising and perceptive account of the front lines of the war on terror, Standard Operating Procedure is a war story that takes its place among the classics. Acclaimed author Philip Gourevitch presents the story behind a defining moment in the war, and a defining moment in our understanding of ourselves- the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs of prisoner abuse. Drawing on Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris's astonishing interviews with the Americans who took and appeared in the pictures, Standard Operating Procedure is an utterly original book that stands to endure as essential reading long after the current war in Iraq passes from the headlines.

Synopsis:

An utterly original literary and intellectual collaboration by two of our keenest moral and political observers has produced a nonfiction Heart of Darkness for our time: the first full reckoning of what actually happened at Abu Ghraib prison, based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with the Americans involved. Standard Operating Procedure reveals the stories of the American soldiers who took and appeared in the iconic photographs of the Iraq war-the haunting digital snapshots from Abu Ghraib prison that shocked the world-and simultaneously illuminates and alters forever our understanding of those images and the events they depict. Drawing on more than two hundred hours of Errol Morris's startlingly frank and intimate interviews with Americans who served at Abu Ghraib and with some of their Iraqi prisoners, as well as on his own research, Philip Gourevitch has written a relentlessly surprising account of Iraq's occupation from the inside out-rendering vivid portraits of guards and prisoners ensnared in an appalling breakdown of command authority and moral order. What did we think we saw in the infamous photographs, and what were we, in fact, looking at? What did the people in the photographs think they were doing, and why did they take them? What was standard operating procedure and what was being creative when it came to making prisoners uncomfortable? Who was giving orders, and who was following them? Where does the line lie between humiliation and torture, and why and how does that matter? Was the true Abu Ghraib scandal a result of an exposA1/2 or a cover-up? In exploring these questions, Gourevitch and Morris have crafted a nonfiction morality play that standsto endure as essential reading long after the current war in Iraq passes from the headlines. By taking us deep into the voices and characters of the men and women who lived the horror of Abu Ghraib, the authors force us, whatever our politics, to reexamine the pat explanations in which we have been offered-or sought-refuge, and to see afresh this watershed episode. Instead of a few bad apples, we are confronted with disturbingly ordinary young American men and women who have been dropped into something out of Dante's Inferno. Standard Operating Procedure is a book that makes you think and makes you see-an essential contribution from two of our finest nonfiction artists working at the peak of their powers.

About the Author

Philip Gourevitch is the award-winning author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda and A Cold Case. He is the editor of The Paris Review and a longtime staff writer for The New Yorker.

Errol Morris is a world-renowned filmmaker — the Academy Award-winning director of The Fog of War and the recipient of a MacArthur genius award. His other films include Mr. Death, Fast Cheap & Out of Control, A Brief History of Time, and The Thin Blue Line.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Grady Harp, September 22, 2008 (view all comments by Grady Harp)
An Important Book To Read and Digest

While the general public in this country is somewhat knowledgeable of the prolonged agonies of the ongoing Iraq War, few of us are as acutely aware of the dark cloud of atrocities accompanying that war. Information about the 'progress' and purpose of that war are parceled out by the somewhat restricted media, the more serious and sad aspects of what is actually happening are scrutinized before the media releases that information, leaving us with a generalized anxiety about conditions and prognostications of the conflict that has so little support from the public at present. Too often this 'protective shield' from the facts allows a certain degree of near complacency, and it takes the intermittent release of data such as the unveiling of the atrocities and prisoner abuse at the hands of American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison that surfaced through blogs and magazines and newspapers to startle the public and remind us of the grim aspects that war can drive countries and individuals to perform. Yes, similar startle reaction accompanied the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War and the books and films that followed that event alerted the public of the realities that can happen in wartime. But it takes an important book such as STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE written by Philip Gourevitch with invaluable insights and interviews from co-author Errol Morris who created the film STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE to bring to our careful scrutiny just what is happening and what is possible under the guise of 'protection' in time of war.

Gourevitch wisely divides this book into three sections - 'Before', 'During' and 'After; - which allows the reader to absorb the events leading up to the creation of the Abu Ghraib prison, introducing the people involved in transforming this dank and pungent edifice housing Saddam Hussein's own grim prison and execution house into a 'redesigned' American prison. We meet the contractors, the military personnel from the officers down to the soldiers assigned to guard the detainee prisoners, to the prisoners themselves, and it is this thorough approach to reportage that engenders confidence in the writing and makes every riveting page of this immensely important and terrifying account sear the reader's eye. Photographs, such as those that flooded the blogsites and media for a brief moment a few years ago, can create a visceral impression, but Gourevitch's choice to exclude the visuals from his evaluation of Abu Ghraib and the inhumane atrocities perpetrated by our own soldiers on the prisoners makes his book even more disturbing.

The use of letters home by the soldiers witnessing and taking part in the torture and 'interrogation techniques', letters and interviews supplied by Errol Morris from his research for his documentary film, allow us to hear about the situation first hand. Gourevitch is careful not to press his thumb on the scales that weigh the balance of 'indicated' and 'not indicated' actions and his doing so makes the reading all the more vivid. He allows us to observe how the situation arose, what actually happened there, and the repercussions and cover-up of the full story once the activities within the walls of that now infamous prison leaked out. This is a book that should be read by all citizens of this country (and of all countries who engage in war) to remind us all just how distorted and tested the state of humanity can become when the umbrella of 'war' alters human behavior that at times only retrospection (such as this book supplies) unveils. STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE is an important document and a fascinating, if grim, read. Highly Recommended.

Grady Harp
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lindsey beadle, September 3, 2008 (view all comments by lindsey beadle)
I almost couldn't put this down. This is a great account from the people who were there, not an analysis from above. Mr. Gourevitch is a great writer. I wish all nonfiction read like this.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594201325
Author:
Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Author:
Gourevitch, Philip
Author:
Moris, Errol
Author:
Morris, Errol
Subject:
United States - 21st Century
Subject:
Military - Iraq War (2003-)
Subject:
Military - United States
Subject:
Conspiracy & Scandal Investigations
Subject:
Prisoners of war
Subject:
Abuse of
Subject:
Iraq War, 2003- - P
Subject:
Abu Ghraib Prison
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20090428
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.46 x 5.6 x 0.7 in 0.64 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Military » Gulf Wars
History and Social Science » Military » Iraq War (2003-)
History and Social Science » Military » Recent Military History
History and Social Science » Sociology » Crime

Standard Operating Procedure Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594201325 Reviews:
"Review" by , "What Standard Operating Procedure, the book, does...with remarkable power, is conjure the atmosphere and conditions at Abu Ghraib that existed during the period in which the photographed abuses occurred."
"Review" by , "[Gourevitch]weaves Morris' interviews, court transcripts and journalists' accounts into a compelling story of a prison plan gone wrong."
"Review" by , "[O]ne of the most devastating of the many books on Iraq."
"Review" by , "If you thought you heard the whole story of Abu Ghraib prison, think again. Here is the rest of the story."
"Synopsis" by ,
The first full reckoning of what actually happened at Abu Ghraib prison-"one of the most devastating of the many books on Iraq" (The New York Times Book Review)

A relentlesly surprising and perceptive account of the front lines of the war on terror, Standard Operating Procedure is a war story that takes its place among the classics. Acclaimed author Philip Gourevitch presents the story behind a defining moment in the war, and a defining moment in our understanding of ourselves- the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs of prisoner abuse. Drawing on Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris's astonishing interviews with the Americans who took and appeared in the pictures, Standard Operating Procedure is an utterly original book that stands to endure as essential reading long after the current war in Iraq passes from the headlines.

"Synopsis" by , An utterly original literary and intellectual collaboration by two of our keenest moral and political observers has produced a nonfiction Heart of Darkness for our time: the first full reckoning of what actually happened at Abu Ghraib prison, based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with the Americans involved. Standard Operating Procedure reveals the stories of the American soldiers who took and appeared in the iconic photographs of the Iraq war-the haunting digital snapshots from Abu Ghraib prison that shocked the world-and simultaneously illuminates and alters forever our understanding of those images and the events they depict. Drawing on more than two hundred hours of Errol Morris's startlingly frank and intimate interviews with Americans who served at Abu Ghraib and with some of their Iraqi prisoners, as well as on his own research, Philip Gourevitch has written a relentlessly surprising account of Iraq's occupation from the inside out-rendering vivid portraits of guards and prisoners ensnared in an appalling breakdown of command authority and moral order. What did we think we saw in the infamous photographs, and what were we, in fact, looking at? What did the people in the photographs think they were doing, and why did they take them? What was standard operating procedure and what was being creative when it came to making prisoners uncomfortable? Who was giving orders, and who was following them? Where does the line lie between humiliation and torture, and why and how does that matter? Was the true Abu Ghraib scandal a result of an exposA1/2 or a cover-up? In exploring these questions, Gourevitch and Morris have crafted a nonfiction morality play that standsto endure as essential reading long after the current war in Iraq passes from the headlines. By taking us deep into the voices and characters of the men and women who lived the horror of Abu Ghraib, the authors force us, whatever our politics, to reexamine the pat explanations in which we have been offered-or sought-refuge, and to see afresh this watershed episode. Instead of a few bad apples, we are confronted with disturbingly ordinary young American men and women who have been dropped into something out of Dante's Inferno. Standard Operating Procedure is a book that makes you think and makes you see-an essential contribution from two of our finest nonfiction artists working at the peak of their powers.
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