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Other titles in the American Empire Project series:

We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project)

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"One diplomat's darkly humorous and ultimately scathing assault on just about everything the military and State Department have done—or tried to do—since the invasion of Iraq. The title says it all."—The New York Times

Charged with rebuilding Iraq, would you spend taxpayer money on a sports mural in Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhood to promote reconciliation through art? How about an isolated milk factory that cannot get its milk to market? Or a pastry class training women to open cafés on bombed-out streets that lack water and electricity?

As Peter Van Buren shows, we bought all these projects and more in the most expensive hearts-and-minds campaign since the Marshall Plan. We Meant Well is his eyewitness account of the civilian side of the surge—that surreal and bollixed attempt to defeat terrorism and win over Iraqis by reconstructing the world we had just destroyed. Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic mission, Van Buren details, with laser-like irony, his yearlong encounter with pointless projects, bureaucratic fumbling, overwhelmed soldiers, and oblivious administrators secluded in the world's largest embassy, who fail to realize that you can't rebuild a country without first picking up the trash.

A work of "scathing, gallows humor" (The Boston Globe), We Meant Well is a tragicomic voyage of ineptitude and corruption that leaves its writer—and readers—appalled and disillusioned, but wiser.

Review:

"In this shocking and darkly hilarious exposé of the reconstruction of post-Saddam Iraq, former State Department team leader Van Buren describes the tragicomedy that has been American efforts at nation building, marked by bizarre decisions and wrongheaded priorities. The streets of Baghdad are piled high with mountains of trash; food and clean water are increasingly scarce, but since 2003, the State Department has poured money into such absurdities as outfitting schools (that lack electricity) with computers and importing French pastry chefs to teach cooking lessons. Programs are stymied by cultural ignorance, undermined by local corruption, and badly managed by well-intentioned if oblivious administrators. But photo ops have been enough to satisfy the higher-ups. 'If publicity were democracy,' Van Buren remarks, 'this place would have looked like ancient Athens.' A story of the American ambassador and his lawn elegantly evokes the disconnect between American intention and Iraqi suffering: despite blistering heat, seed-stealing birds, and the astronomical cost of water, the ambassador demanded — and achieved — an emerald green garden within the embassy walls. 'We made things in Iraq look the way we wanted them to look,' Van Buren writes. With lyrical prose and biting wit, this book reveals the devastating arrogance of imperial ambition and folly. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

"One diplomat's darkly humorous and ultimately scathing assault on just about everything the military and State Department have done—or tried to do—since the invasion of Iraq. The title says it all."—The New York Times

Charged with rebuilding Iraq, would you spend taxpayer money on a sports mural in Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhood to promote reconciliation through art? How about an isolated milk factory that cannot get its milk to market? Or a pastry class training women to open cafés on bombed-out streets that lack water and electricity?

As Peter Van Buren shows, we bought all these projects and more in the most expensive hearts-and-minds campaign since the Marshall Plan. We Meant Well is his eyewitness account of the civilian side of the surge—that surreal and bollixed attempt to defeat terrorism and win over Iraqis by reconstructing the world we had just destroyed. Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic mission, Van Buren details, with laser-like irony, his yearlong encounter with pointless projects, bureaucratic fumbling, overwhelmed soldiers, and oblivious administrators secluded in the world's largest embassy, who fail to realize that you can't rebuild a country without first picking up the trash.

A work of "scathing, gallows humor" (The Boston Globe), We Meant Well is a tragicomic voyage of ineptitude and corruption that leaves its writer—and readers—appalled and disillusioned, but wiser.

Synopsis:

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title

From a State Department insider, the first account of our blundering efforts to rebuild Iraq—a shocking and rollicking true-life tale of Americans abroad

Charged with rebuilding Iraq, would you spend taxpayer money on a sports mural in Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhood to promote reconciliation through art? How about an isolated milk factory that cannot get its milk to market? Or a pastry class training women to open cafés on bombed-out streets without water or electricity?

According to Peter Van Buren, we bought all these projects and more in the most expensive hearts-and-minds campaign since the Marshall Plan. We Meant Well is his eyewitness account of the civilian side of the surge—that surreal and bollixed attempt to defeat terrorism and win over Iraqis by reconstructing the world we had just destroyed. Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic mission, Van Buren details, with laser-like irony, his yearlong encounter with pointless projects, bureaucratic fumbling, overwhelmed soldiers, and oblivious administrators secluded in the world's largest embassy, who fail to realize that you can't rebuild a country without first picking up the trash.

Darkly funny while deadly serious, We Meant Well is a tragicomic voyage of ineptitude and corruption that leaves its writer—and readers—appalled and disillusioned but wiser.

About the Author

Peter Van Buren has served overseas as a State Department officer for more than two decades in places like Thailand, Japan, and Iraq, among others. When not on assignment, he lives in northern Virginia. This is his first book.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805094367
Subtitle:
How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
Author:
Van Buren, Peter
Author:
Van, Peter
Author:
Peter Van Buren
Publisher:
Metropolitan Books
Subject:
Military - Iraq War (2003-)
Subject:
World History-Middle East
Subject:
Politics - General
Subject:
Military/Iraq War (2003-2011)
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
American Empire Project
Publication Date:
20120821
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Middle East » Iraq
History and Social Science » Military » Iraq War (2003-)
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » World History » Middle East

We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project) Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Metropolitan Books - English 9780805094367 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this shocking and darkly hilarious exposé of the reconstruction of post-Saddam Iraq, former State Department team leader Van Buren describes the tragicomedy that has been American efforts at nation building, marked by bizarre decisions and wrongheaded priorities. The streets of Baghdad are piled high with mountains of trash; food and clean water are increasingly scarce, but since 2003, the State Department has poured money into such absurdities as outfitting schools (that lack electricity) with computers and importing French pastry chefs to teach cooking lessons. Programs are stymied by cultural ignorance, undermined by local corruption, and badly managed by well-intentioned if oblivious administrators. But photo ops have been enough to satisfy the higher-ups. 'If publicity were democracy,' Van Buren remarks, 'this place would have looked like ancient Athens.' A story of the American ambassador and his lawn elegantly evokes the disconnect between American intention and Iraqi suffering: despite blistering heat, seed-stealing birds, and the astronomical cost of water, the ambassador demanded — and achieved — an emerald green garden within the embassy walls. 'We made things in Iraq look the way we wanted them to look,' Van Buren writes. With lyrical prose and biting wit, this book reveals the devastating arrogance of imperial ambition and folly. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , "One diplomat's darkly humorous and ultimately scathing assault on just about everything the military and State Department have done—or tried to do—since the invasion of Iraq. The title says it all."—The New York Times

Charged with rebuilding Iraq, would you spend taxpayer money on a sports mural in Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhood to promote reconciliation through art? How about an isolated milk factory that cannot get its milk to market? Or a pastry class training women to open cafés on bombed-out streets that lack water and electricity?

As Peter Van Buren shows, we bought all these projects and more in the most expensive hearts-and-minds campaign since the Marshall Plan. We Meant Well is his eyewitness account of the civilian side of the surge—that surreal and bollixed attempt to defeat terrorism and win over Iraqis by reconstructing the world we had just destroyed. Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic mission, Van Buren details, with laser-like irony, his yearlong encounter with pointless projects, bureaucratic fumbling, overwhelmed soldiers, and oblivious administrators secluded in the world's largest embassy, who fail to realize that you can't rebuild a country without first picking up the trash.

A work of "scathing, gallows humor" (The Boston Globe), We Meant Well is a tragicomic voyage of ineptitude and corruption that leaves its writer—and readers—appalled and disillusioned, but wiser.

"Synopsis" by ,

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title

From a State Department insider, the first account of our blundering efforts to rebuild Iraq—a shocking and rollicking true-life tale of Americans abroad

Charged with rebuilding Iraq, would you spend taxpayer money on a sports mural in Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhood to promote reconciliation through art? How about an isolated milk factory that cannot get its milk to market? Or a pastry class training women to open cafés on bombed-out streets without water or electricity?

According to Peter Van Buren, we bought all these projects and more in the most expensive hearts-and-minds campaign since the Marshall Plan. We Meant Well is his eyewitness account of the civilian side of the surge—that surreal and bollixed attempt to defeat terrorism and win over Iraqis by reconstructing the world we had just destroyed. Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic mission, Van Buren details, with laser-like irony, his yearlong encounter with pointless projects, bureaucratic fumbling, overwhelmed soldiers, and oblivious administrators secluded in the world's largest embassy, who fail to realize that you can't rebuild a country without first picking up the trash.

Darkly funny while deadly serious, We Meant Well is a tragicomic voyage of ineptitude and corruption that leaves its writer—and readers—appalled and disillusioned but wiser.

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