Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World

Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World

by Nir Rosen

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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

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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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Journalist Rosen (In the Belly of the Green Bird) distills seven years of reporting on the Middle East into a scathing study of U.S. policy in the region--with a focus on the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. Rosen argues that the "brutal" occupation inflicted daily violence and humiliation on civilians, "divided Iraqis against one another," catalyzed a devastating civil war, and reinvigorated regional sectarianism. While he acknowledges that the insurgency has been defeated, Rosen fears that "a new phase of violence and factional fighting would likely begin" after an American withdrawal. The author charges that the Bush administration inflated a "war against two hundred unsophisticated extremists" into a global war on terror and that " McChrystal and the military... wanted billions of dollars and a war without end so they could experiment with COIN ." Rosen has traveled throughout the region, often off the beaten path, and interviewed hundreds of ordinary people; the result is a provocative indictment of American policy and policy makers. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

THOMAS E. RICKS, author of Fiasco and The Gamble
“If you think you understand the war in Iraq, or just think you should try to, read this book. This is a deep dive through the last seven years of America’s foray into the Middle East. No one will agree with everything here, but anyone interested in what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan will benefit from reading it.”

ANDREW J. BACEVICH, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War
“For Americans, the story of U.S. military involvement in the Islamic world centers on ‘us’ not ‘them,’ with Afghans and Iraqis cast as victims or bystanders. In this brilliantly reported and deeply humane book, Nir Rosen demolishes this self-serving picture, depicting the relationship between the occupied and the occupiers in all its nuanced complexity.”

Reza Aslan, author of No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism
"A searing, first-hand account of the consequences of America's "war on terrorism" by one of the most respected voices on the Middle East. Honest, fearless, devastating. No one but Nir Rosen could have written this book."

“It is a painful experience to read Nir Rosen’s highly informed account of the destruction of Iraq and the spread of the plague of sectarian violence incited by the invasion to Lebanon and beyond. The image this meticulously detailed rendition brings to mind is of a brutal ignoramus wielding a sledgehammer to smash a complex structure he does not understand, with unpredictable but predictably awful consequences. Amazingly, Rosen finds rays of hope in the ruins. No less compelling, and distressing, is his vivid account of his experiences in Taliban-controlled territory. An indispensable contribution to the understanding of great contemporary tragedies.”

Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century
"The world would be a more dangerous place without Nir Rosen's Aftermath. His bracing recounting of the invasion of Iraq and subsequent insurgency, and blunt dissection of the myths surrounding the surge are an essential antidote to the complacency that has set in as America exits Iraq--and which could lead to similar debacles in the future."

Pat Lang 
Aftermath is a masterwork, the product of a life devoted to a relentless pursuit of the knowledge and understanding of strange men who walk in nearly unimaginable paths across the far places of the world.” 

Chris Hedges, Author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Empire of Illusion
“Nir Rosen has almost single handedly rescued the name of journalism in the Middle East from a class of reporters who function as courtiers and propagandists for the military and our political elite. Rosen's fierce independence and honesty, as well as an ability to see the wars we are fighting from all sides, make his book exceptional for its nuance, complexity and insight into our bloody march through the Muslim world.”

Library Journal
Rosen (fellow, NYU Ctr. on Law & Security; In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq) has been writing from trouble spots in the Muslim world for seven years, producing firsthand reports on the Iraq War and its consequences that have been among the most penetrating and thought-provoking pieces on the subject to appear in magazines and newspapers in the United States. Unlike the vast majority of American correspondents, who do not speak local languages and report from the vantage point of embedded reporters, Rosen is fluent in Iraqi Arabic; that and his independent perspectives have allowed him to provide Western audiences with an in-depth understanding of the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. He dissects America's battles in Iraq and reveals the devastating consequences of Washington's wars and the repercussions in the Muslim world. VERDICT What makes this book particularly relevant and interesting is that much of the information provided by Rosen is based on his direct observations and experiences with the people he reports on. Readable and captivating, this is highly recommended for both specialists and general readers.—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile
Kirkus Reviews

As the last U.S. combat battalions depart Iraq, a journalist tallies the staggering cost of the invasion and occupation.

American officials have largely deemed the surge in Iraq a success. Led by Gen. David Petraeus, the counterinsurgency strategy to integrate Iraqi army and police with U.S. forces to impose an overall security plan has now become the blueprint for Afghanistan and, who knows, for any future showdown with Iran. Rosen (In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq, 2006) acknowledges that the surge, contrary to his expectations, has ended for now the civil war in Iraq, but views our entire involvement, from the invasion through today's occupation, as disastrous. With Middle Eastern features inherited from his Iranian father, this New York City native has deftly employed his "melanin advantage" to blend into the countryside, the mosques, the villages and the neighborhoods of Iraq to report on the chaos, violence and terror attending America's effort to remake the country. For Rosen, it's an unrelenting tale of bombing, death squads, overflowing prisons, heightened factionalism, economic devastation and brutal suppression. Even the surge's effectiveness he attributes less to an inspired general's grand plan and more to an Iraqi resistance bought off by billions of American dollars. The American occupation, he maintains, has destroyed much, built little and only encouraged the spread of radical Islam. He charts the flow of fighters into Iraq, the exodus of millions of refugees and the war's spillover into neighboring Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. He also traveled to Afghanistan for a heart-stopping visit as a "guest" of the Taliban. America entered Iraq promising liberation and democracy. Instead, writes the author, we substituted a different kind of terror from that imposed by Saddam, installed a corrupt government, further destabilized the region and lost most of our influence among the Arabs. As the Obama administration considers the way ahead in the Middle East, as the calendar in Afghanistan flips forward, Rosen's account couldn't be timelier.

Courageous ground-level reporting.

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Product Details

Nation Books
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Age Range:
18 Years

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Meet the Author

Nir Rosen is the author of In the Belly of the Green Bird and has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Time, Mother Jones, The New Republic, and Rolling Stone. A fellow at the NYU Center on Law and Security, he lives in Beirut and New York City.

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