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Nir Rosen has been hailed by The New York Review of Books as the reporter who managed to get inside Fallujah "at a time when it was a death trap for Western reporters," and as one of the few Western reporters able to report the truth from Iraq. Still in his twenties, a freelancer who has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's Magazine, Rosen speaks Iraqi-accented Arabic and has managed to report from some of the country's most dangerous locales. Even The Weekly Standard notes that "he probably has more sources in the insurgency than any other American reporter."

Rosen knows better than anyone how much the Americans are hated, and how deeply the Sunni Iraqis hate the Shias and vice versa. He has listened to the insurgents, and he knows that they will never rest until the Americans are gone. Too many Sunnis and Shias are willing to use violence for Iraq to ever have peace. The overthrow of Saddam has proved to be nothing less than a triumph for the martyrs who use violence at every turn.

Ever since the fall of Saddam's regime Rosen has been in and out of Iraq, from north to south, listening to Friday sermons in mosques, breaking bread with dangerous men, interviewing political henchmen, joining Shia pilgrims, and listening to ordinary Iraqis who face American soldiers on raids in the Sunni triangle. He has had to plead for his life at times, and he has received more than one death threat. He has been pres-ent when bombs were detonated, and he has sat in meetings of insurgent leaders as they made policy decisions about territory they controlled. He has heard the double messages of Iraqi leaders -- the careful English messages for Western ears and the unvarnished hostility in Arabic -- and he has interviewed politicians and imams and seen how the insurgents and gang leaders create militias, private courts, prisons, security services, and more.

In the Belly of the Green Bird is a searing report, unlike any other book about the American experience in Iraq. Almost everything covered in the Western media has been at least one or two steps removed from the minds and acts of the people who will determine the future of Iraq. Some of them are peaceful, some are violent. Some of them hate one another with the intensity of ancient enemies. The depth of discord between Sunnis and Shias is difficult to fathom without listening to them. Their anti-Americanism is much more recent, but not much less intense. The divisions within this cobbled-together country, much like those within Yugoslavia after Tito, are simply too intense to contain.
Nir Rosen’s Aftermath, an extraordinary feat of reporting, follows the contagious spread of radicalism and sectarian violence that the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the ensuing civil war have unleashed in the Muslim world.

 

Rosen—who the Weekly Standard once bitterly complained has “great access to the Baathists and jihadists who make up the Iraqi insurgency”— has spent nearly a decade among warriors and militants who have been challenging American power in the Muslim world. In Aftermath, he tells their story, showing the other side of the U.S. war on terror, traveling from the battle-scarred streets of Baghdad to the alleys, villages, refugee camps, mosques, and killing grounds of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and finally Afghanistan, where Rosen has a terrifying encounter with the Taliban as their “guest,” and witnesses the new Obama surge fizzling in southern Afghanistan.

Rosen was one of the few Westerners to venture inside the mosques of Baghdad to witness the first stirrings of sectarian hatred in the months after the U.S. invasion. He shows how weapons, tactics, and sectarian ideas from the civil war in Iraq penetrated neighboring countries and threatened their stability, especially Lebanon and Jordan, where new jihadist groups mushroomed. Moreover, he shows that the spread of violence at the street level is often the consequence of specific policies hatched in Washington, D.C. Rosen offers a seminal and provocative account of the surge, told from the perspective of U.S. troops on the ground, the Iraqi security forces, Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents that were both allies and adversaries. He also tells the story of what happened to these militias once they outlived their usefulness to the Americans.

Aftermath is both a unique personal history and an unsparing account of what America has wrought in Iraq and the region. The result is a hair- raising, 360-degree view of the modern battlefield its consequent humanitarian catastrophe, and the reality of counterinsurgency.

 

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