A Bloody Business: America's War Zone Contractors and the Occupation of Iraq

Gerald Schumacher, Author . MBI/ Zenith $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7603-2355-7

Retired army colonel Schumacher polishes the public image of private wartime contractors in this informative if relentlessly glowing account of these "unrecognized and unappreciated patriots" in Iraq and Kuwait. Schumacher gained access to employees from contracting firms MPRI and Crescent Security, and his perspective is one of deep affection and respect—for people who put themselves in harm's way to provide security for diplomats, to move convoys of precious materials and to rebuild the broken infrastructure of war-torn countries. Describing the day-to-day operations of the trucking, training and security contractors he interviewed in Kuwait and Iraq, Schumacher argues that they don't work for the money (MPRI workers' pay comes to under $20 an hour) but out of a sense of adventure, patriotism and expertise. The author's voice is unpretentious but swaggering, tough but sentimental; he's as critical of the Bush administration for its ill-conceived strategies as of the media for what he considers prejudice. There's not much in the way of subtle policy debate or comprehensive analysis ("Department of Defense outsourcing to civilian contractors is an efficient, short-term solution"), but Schumacher writes with a keen sense of justice and empathy as he recounts the harrowing tales of these contractors-for-hire. B&w photos. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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