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Stephenson was intimately involved in the U.S. government's post-conflict stabilization effort in Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion. A veteran of such post-conflict reconstruction projects in many countries, he headed the Iraq mission of the U.S. Agency for International Development. From his intimate knowledge of the day-to-day reconstruction and nation-building activities undertaken under the umbrella of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Stephenson portrays a chaotic picture of various groups involved in the U.S. government's reconstruction projects in post-Saddam Iraq. He is particularly critical of the dysfunctional nature of the CPA and the inexperience and incompetence of several of its employees, which contributed to the disillusionment of many Iraqis with the U.S. reconstruction effort. Although Stephenson is critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, his intention is not to offer an analysis of the political decisions that led to it. Rather, he is focused on explaining the causes and consequences of the failure of the post-war reconstruction schemes. The book lacks endnotes or a bibliography, but it will be valuable for both policy analysts and informed citizens.