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Iraq: Eyewitness to War    by Robert J. Galbraith order for
by Robert J. Galbraith
Order:  USA  Can
Robert J. Galbraith, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Photojournalist Robert J. Galbraith offers 'a day-by-day, personal eyewitness account of my 35-day sojourn in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan' from April 10 to May 14, 2003. He dedicates it, amongst others, 'to the soldiers, on both sides of the conflict, who died or were injured fighting for what they believed in (or were forced to believe in).' This coffee-table size softcover diary is interspersed with color photos of military and civilian scenes, including many of children. It also includes 1991 Desert Storm photos, accompanying diary entries of recovery time spent in Kuwait.

Galbraith describes a chaotic Baghdad full of rotting garbage, wild dogs and looters, vigilantes and soldiers, and rampant rumors. He is honest about feeling in 'journalistic heaven' despite the surrounding misery and misinformation. He participates in a joint Marine/police patrol by Humvee. He takes note of many individual Iraqis laughing with U.S. soldiers as well as crowds confronting them. At a hospital, where doctors are part-time gravediggers, he sees a five-year-old blinded by a bomb (the cover photo). These parents blame Saddam Hussein, while other relatives of the injured blame the Americans. Places visited by the photojournalist include Basra prison, what remains of the Baghdad Zoo, Saddam's Adamia Palace, and an oil refinery. An account of lost street kids is especially poignant. In strong contrast to the horrors is a spectacular picture of a flight of ibis above the river Tigris at sunset, and another page full of glorious snapshots of flowers.

Galbraith expresses quite a few of his own opinions about Iraq, being particularly critical of the U.N. role (or rather, the lack of one). Overall, the photos are impressive, and the commentary flows rather like a detailed weblog. Read Iraq: Eyewitness to War for its perspective on the country, as well as for an in-depth understanding of how it feels to be a journalist in such a dangerous place.

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