Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Chasing Ghosts : A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington

An Operation Iraqi Freedom vet and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Rieckhoff recounts his journey from National Guard lieutenant to disillusioned patriot in this disappointing combat memoir-cum-polemic. Rieckhoff admits that he thought the reasons for invading Iraq were "bullshit," but volunteered to go anyway.

His experiences in Iraq—patrolling the chaotic streets of Baghdad in the months after its occupation—only confirmed his initial judgment that the invasion "was one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in our nation's history." Paul Rieckhoff is anything but humble. An Amherst grad (as he often interjects), he finds his recruiter repellant—a "slick, fat... Sergeant [who] smelled like a dirty ashtray"— but enlists anyway.

President Bush is "arrogant" and "a bully," and Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer is "ignorant and out-of-touch." Rieckhoff is bipartisan in his contempt: when the Kerry campaign ignores his advice, he dismisses the Democratic presidential candidate as "a calculating and coached politician." Finally, he and a "small band of pissed-off visionaries" founded their own organization, Operation Truth, to get out the word. In the end, Rieckhoff has a story to tell, but he undermines his credibility with his arrogance and petty offside remarks.

Paul Rieckhoff will be on The Colbert Report and The Rachel Maddow Show on May 3.

The review was from Publishers Weekly.

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