Big Boy Rules: In the Company of America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq

Big Boy Rules: In the Company of America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq

by Steve Fainaru
     
 

From Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru comes an unforgettable journey into Iraq’s parallel war—a world filled with tens of thousands of armed men roaming Iraq with impunity, doing jobs the military can’t or won’t do. Fainaru reveals in gritty and shocking detail what drives these men to do the

Overview

From Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru comes an unforgettable journey into Iraq’s parallel war—a world filled with tens of thousands of armed men roaming Iraq with impunity, doing jobs the military can’t or won’t do. Fainaru reveals in gritty and shocking detail what drives these men to do the world’s most dangerous work.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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)

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Library Journal

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.
—Bob Nardini

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306818387
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
896,111
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Steve Fainaru is a foreign correspondent for the Washington Post. In 2008 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. He lives in El Cerrito, California.

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