Friendly Fire: The Remarkable Story of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Rescued by an Italian Secret Service Agent, and Shot by U.S. F
Giuliana Sgrena. Haymarket Books, $20 (215pp) ISBN 978-1-931859-39-4
In 2004, Sgrena, a reporter for a Communist paper in Italy covering the plight of war-torn Falluja, was kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents, held for a month and released safely-only to be fired upon by U.S. forces guarding the road to the airport. The well-publicized incident, which resulted in the death of high-ranking Italian intelligence official Major General Nicola Calipari, is recounted here with righteous anger by Sgrena, along with the ensuing cover-up by the U.S. military commission assigned to find out what went wrong. Sgrena begins each chapter with details of the kidnapping, followed by analysis of the situation in Iraq, based on her first-hand experience reporting there. She is unstinting in her criticism of the war's conduct, bringing a perspective that American readers-for all the polemical war commentary they've been subject to-will find fresh and intriguing, such as her sense that the U.S. intent in Iraq is to partition the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurd areas, and that steps towards this goal have already been taken. While Sgrena's sometimes strident tone may be off-putting for Americans (either she or translator Riva fail to distinguish between government and citizens in reference to ""the Americans""), her book is a valuable insider's look at both the personal and political costs of the interminable Iraq conflict.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006