Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq

Ugly. Steve Fainaru’s new book Big Boy Rules: America’s Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq is an eye-opening story of what is being done in the name of America in Iraq. The need for private security contracting became clear early on in Iraq, as our volunteer army was spread thin. Fainaru presents what this contracting entails, using one company, Crescent Security Group, and one contractor, Jon Cote, as his primary focus. What Fainaru describes is a degree of lawlessness that will lead to the discomfort of most readers, and the sadness of how individuals who are trying both to help America in Iraq as well as make money are treated when things don’t work out as planned. The tattoo on a former Marine summarized the situation: “The unwanted, doing the unforgiveable, for the ungrateful.” (p. xii). Sammy Jamison, the convoy manager for one contractor, ArmorGroup, said, “We can’t ask the Iraqi people to respect the law if we don’t do it ourselves.” (p. 131). As for Jon Cote and those like him, Fainaru noted, “But it was an ugly business he had gotten himself into, perhaps the ugliest business there was.” (p. 215). Big Boy Rules makes for uncomfortable and informative reading. The book expands on the Pulitzer prize-winning reporting that Fainaru has done for The Washington Post. There are costs to this war that higher than most reports describe, and Fainaru’s book puts a human face on these costs.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)

Click here to purchase Big Boy Rules from amazon.com.

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