A TIME OF OUR CHOOSING: America's War in Iraq

Todd S. Purdum, Author, New York Times, Joint Author
Todd S. Purdum, Author, New York Times, Joint Author . Holt/Times $25 (319p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7562-5
Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003

Not since Vietnam have journalists played a more important role in an engagement of arms than in the most recent war in Iraq. So even as soldiers and Iraqis continue to die in the uneasy aftermath, we have this surprisingly cogent and balanced narrative based on a wide range of national and international reporting and analysis, embedded or otherwise, by New York Times reporters. Veteran Times correspondent Purdum, synthesizing the work of numerous colleagues, ably documents the clash of combatants, the political machinations that preceded the stunning victory and the sobering human and material costs, all in the fast-moving, accessible style of a thoughtful techno-thriller. Alternating smoothly among far-flung military units, Washington, European capitals, the streets of Baghdad and America's front porches, Purdum provides far more detail and perspective than anyone could have absorbed at the time from their newspapers and televisions. Most memorable are the many stories of individual soldiers and civilians in extremis and in their own words, but the book's greatest contribution is showing how ideas beget policies that lead to war, in this case the ideas and policy known as the Bush Doctrine, best captured by an army colonel, echoing Bush's own words, after the first ground raid into Baghdad: "This shows we can go anywhere... at a time of our choosing." With the fates of Saddam, bin Laden and the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan still uncertain, Purdum wrapped this compelling work in August, but not before asking tough questions about what "victory" means. 23 photos, 8 maps not seen by PW. (Nov. 6)

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