Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dexter Filkins on Iraq

Dexter Filkins's piece in Saturday's NYT on Iraq is well worth your time.
When I left Iraq in the summer of 2006, after living three and a half years here following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, I believed that evil had triumphed, and that it would be many years before it might be stopped. Iraq, filled with so many people living so close together, nurturing dark and unknowable grievances, seemed destined for a ghastly unraveling.

And now, in the late summer of 2008, comes the calm. Violence has dropped by as much as 90 percent. A handful of the five million Iraqis who fled their homes — one-sixth of all Iraqis — are beginning to return. The mornings, once punctuated by the sounds of exploding bombs, are still. Is it possible that the rage, the thirst for revenge, the sectarian furies, have begun to fade? That Iraqis have been exhausted and frightened by what they have seen?

Filkins's new book, The Forever War, has just been published, and it looks very, very good. Here are some blurbs:
“Dexter Filkins is the preeminent war correspondent of my generation, fearless, compassionate, and brutally honest. In an age of know-it-all pundits and preening bloggers, Filkins is the real thing. He's been everywhere, he's seen everything, and, miraculously, he's lived to tell the tale. The Forever War is his astonishing story. It is one of the best books about war that I have ever read. It will stay with me forever.”
-Jeffrey Goldberg, author of Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide

“Dexter Filkins has seen the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan; he has stood in the ruins of the World Trade Center; he has been in the heat of battle in Iraq; indeed, no one else has been closer to the action than this courageous and thoughtful observer. This is a sensational book in the best sense.”
-Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

"The Forever War is already a classic–it has the timeless feel of all great war literature. A lot has been written about Iraq and Afghanistan, but no one has seen as much, survived as much, and registered the horror with such sad eloquence as Dexter Filkins. His combination of courage and sensitivity is so rare that books like his come along only once every major war. This one is ours."
-George Packer, author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq

“Filkins . . . is widely regarded as among the finest war correspondents of this generation. His richly textured book . . . does not editorialize–a welcome change from the punditry that shapes most writing from these war zones.”

Hugh Hewitt recently interviewed Filkins for two hours (you can listen to the podcasts here and here, and read the transcript here). also interviewed Filkins, and you can read the three-page PDF here.