Do You Have A Bad-News Bias If Your Iraq Book Is Titled 'Fiasco'?

Washington Post defense reporter Thomas Ricks is one of several Post reporters with Iraq books hitting the market. But the title of his book, coming out in July, sticks out. It's Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. I wonder if Post readers might not think in the day-to-day reporting on Iraq that Ricks is going to display a pronounced bad-news bias. The book description on Amazon suggests "caustic" is a word that fits this book's tone:

The definitive military chronicle of the Iraq war and a searing judgment on the strategic blindness with which America has conducted it, drawing on the accounts of senior military officers giving voice to their anger for the first time.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post senior Pentagon correspondent Thomas E. Ricks's Fiasco is masterful and explosive reckoning with the planning and execution of the American military invasion and occupation of Iraq, based on the unprecedented candor of key participants.

The American military is a tightly sealed community, and few outsiders have reason to know that a great many senior officers view the Iraq war with incredulity and dismay. But many officers have shared their anger with renowned military reporter Thomas E. Ricks, and in Fiasco, Ricks combines these astonishing on-the-record military accounts with his own extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to create a spellbinding account of an epic disaster.

As many in the military publicly acknowledge here for the first time, the guerrilla insurgency that exploded several months after Saddam's fall was not foreordained. In fact, to a shocking degree, it was created by the folly of the war's architects. But the officers who did raise their voices against the miscalculations, shortsightedness, and general failure of the war effort were generally crushed, their careers often ended. A willful blindness gripped political and military leaders, and dissent was not tolerated.

Most Iraq books by Post reporters have come from Baghdad correspondents. Next up, in September, is Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life Within The Emerald City, also hailed as a "vivid and compelling anatomy of a fiasco." Earlier books are Night Draws Near by Anthony Shadid and Tell Them I Didn't Cry by Jackie Spinner. Spinner's book still sticks out in my head from the Post's review, and this typical "neutral" reporter mantra: "I didn't become a journalist to serve my country," Spinner explains. "I became a journalist to serve the story." As the book reviewer explained: "That means documenting the anguish of a country for which Americans now bear enormous responsibility."

Iraq Washington Post
Tim Graham's picture