For this mordant dispatch from one of the Iraq War's seamiest sides, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post correspondent Fainaru embedded with some of the thousands of "private security contractors" who chauffeur officials, escort convoys and add their own touch of mayhem to the conflict. Exempt from Iraqi law and oversight by the U.S. government, which doesn't even record their casualties, the mercenaries, Fainaru writes, play by "Big Boy Rules"-which often means no rules at all as they barrel down highways in the wrong direction, firing on any vehicle in their path. (His report on the Blackwater company, infamous for killing Iraqi civilians and getting away with it, is meticulous and chilling.) Fainaru's depiction of the mercenaries' crassness and callousness is unsparing, but he sympathizes with these often inexperienced, badly equipped hired guns struggling to cope with a dirty war. Nor is he immune to the romance of the soldier of fortune, especially in his somewhat bathetic portrait of Jon Coté, Iraq War veteran and lost soul who joined the fly-by-night Crescent Security Group and was kidnapped by insurgents. Fainaru's vivid reportage makes the mercenary's dubious motives and chaotic methods a microcosm of a misbegotten war. (Nov. 17)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraqby Steve Fainaru, Patrick Lawlor
A parallel army lives on the margins of the Iraq war-nearly 100,000 armed men, invisible yet in plain sight, doing jobs the overstretched and understaffed military can't or won't do. The U.S. media call them "security contractors." They call themselves "mercs," and they operate under their own rules. Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru traveled
A parallel army lives on the margins of the Iraq war-nearly 100,000 armed men, invisible yet in plain sight, doing jobs the overstretched and understaffed military can't or won't do. The U.S. media call them "security contractors." They call themselves "mercs," and they operate under their own rules. Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru traveled with several groups of security contractors to find out what motivates them to put their lives in danger every day. What emerges is a searing, revealing, and sometimes darkly funny look at the men who live and work in the battlefields of Iraq: some are desperate, some are confused, and some are just out for a lark. Some disappear into the void that is Iraq and are never seen again. It's not a pretty picture that Fainaru reveals, but it is brutally real and shockingly honest. Big Boy Rules is an unforgettable leap into the mayhem of Iraq and into the dark recesses of the minds of American policymakers and the warriors they hire.
In the past three years, a sudden literature encompassing over a dozen books of journalism, scholarship, and memoir has documented the rise of private security firms in Iraq and as part of other recent conflicts. Fainaru (coauthor, with Ray Sanchez, The Duke of Havana: Baseball, Cuba, and the Search for the American Dream) won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for his Washington Post series on the companies that grew in Iraq "like mushrooms after a rainstorm, some with boards of directors and glass offices, others that are scarcely more than armed gangs." He shows that these firms operated all but outside the law and beyond oversight, "the largest use of private forces in the history of American warfare," whether it was the notorious Blackwater, a large State Department contractor, or Crescent Security, a small profiteer whose reckless activity is the primary subject of Fainaru's reporting. Five Crescent employees whom Fainaru came to know were ambushed, kidnapped, and murdered, and his skillful injection of a personal element into the larger story makes this a highly engaging book, among the best written so far on this subject. Recommended for all libraries.
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Meet the Author
Patrick Lawlor has recorded over three hundred audiobooks in just about every genre. He has been an Audie Award finalist several times and has received several AudioFile Earphones Awards. He has won a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, numerous Library Journal and Kirkus starred audio reviews, and multiple Editors' Picks, Top 10, and Year's Best lists.
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