Hugh Pope, author of "Dining with al-Qaeda", reviews Peter van Buren's "We Meant Well", the memoir of a State Dept. provincial governor in Iraq, on his blog. I had the pleasure of having dinner at Hugh's beautiful Istanbul home last week (fantastic fish!) and he was raving about this book:
Informed by his State Department employers that he could either serve in a Middle East war zone or watch his career wilt, Peter Van Buren chose active service helping to rebuild Iraq. His year embedded in Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the notorious Sunni triangle resulted in We Meant Well: how I helped lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, a delightful, 269-page book that I devoured in 24 hours flat. By turns tough, tender and eye-wateringly funny, it rises far above its principal ingredients of garbage, boredom, heat, camaraderie, hypocrisy and the constant spectacle of wanton waste.