Night Draws Near

Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War

By Anthony Shadid
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312426033, 528pp.)

Publication Date: July 11, 2006

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Compact Disc

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Winner of the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize

A Washington Post Book World Top Five Nonfiction Book of the Year

A Seattle Times Top Ten Best Book of the Year

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

In 2003, The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid went to war in Iraq, but not as an embedded journalist. Born and raised in Oklahoma, of Lebanese descent, Shadid, a fluent Arabic speaker, has spent the last three years dividing his time between Washington, D.C., and Baghdad. The only journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for his extraordinary coverage of Iraq, Shadid is also the only writer to describe the human story of ordinary Iraqis weathering the unexpected impact of America's invasion and occupation. Through the moving stories of individual Iraqis, Shadid shows how Saddam's downfall paved the way not just for hopes of democracy but also for the importation of jihad and the rise of a bloody insurgency. "A superb reporter's book," wrote Seymour Hersh; Night Draws Near is, according to Mark Danner, "essential."

About the Author

Anthony Shadid has reported for the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, and, since the beginning of the war in Iraq, The Washington Post. In addition to the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, his stories from Iraq have earned him an American Society of Newspaper Editors award for deadline news reporting and the Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award for best newspaper or wire-service reporting from abroad. While at The Boston Globe, Shadid was awarded the 2002 George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting for a series of dispatches from the Middle East. An Arab-American of Lebanese descent, he was born and raised in Oklahoma and now lives in Washington, D.C., and Baghdad.

Wednesday, Sep 1, 2010

For more than seven years, Americans learned about the war from news reports. But between headlines, many also turned to books to understand the strategy and the lessons of the conflict. As "Operation New Dawn" begins, Thomas Ricks picks the best and the worst books about the Iraq war. More at

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Praise For Night Draws Near

Incisive and eloquent . . . A harrowing portrait of life in postwar Iraq and the fallout that the American war has had on ordinary Iraqi civilians . . . A riveting narrative . . . Provides a damning account of the Bush administration's failure to prepare adequately for the postwar occupation . . . Sobering and revealing.

Shadid breaks new ground in offering us a much-needed look at the human face of the Iraqi people, as well as an acute analysis of the variegated cultural and historical forces that ultimately are going to decide the political fate of Iraq. . . . Through Shadid's eyes, we see clearly the chasm between occupier and occupied. . . . As a piece of reporting on the forces that are shaping today's Iraq, this is as fine a book as one could hope to read.

Night Draws Near is unique in its breadth, its supremely elegant writing, and in the biography of its author. . . . [Shadid] understands Iraqi culture better than most U.S. journalists. . . . Everyone should read this book, especially the White House and members of Congress. It will open their eyes.

Told exclusively from the perspective of regular Iraqis, these are the war stories we never hear. . . . [A] definitive work.

This book should be read for its keen analysis of the events in postinvasion Iraq as much as for its thoughtful and precise storytelling and portraiture of Iraqis trying to make sense of their radically changed country. . . . [A] tour de force.

It is Shadid's rare achievement to have recorded and restored the voices of those most directly affect by the war in Iraq: the Iraqis themselves. . . . He converses equally easily with the Texas private and the Islamic insurgent, crossing the divide between Sunni, Shiite, and American, to extract the individual stories that give human contour to the chaos. . . . Gripping, gritty, and heartbreaking.

An important event, a ray of light . . . Informed, scrupulously observed, elegantly written and deeply compassionate, Night Draws Near is a classic not just of war reporting but of what we might call frontline anthropology.

First-rate reporting . . . An intimate and essential book which reveals why America failed to win over hearts and minds, in spite of toppling Saddam . . . Night Draws Near reveals that this war might have gone a different way--especially, it would seem, if we had listened to the people of Iraq as Shadid did from the beginning.

Mr. Shadid . . . who speaks Arabic like a native and writes English like an angel, has put his best reporting into this book.

Shadid won a Pulitzer for his work in Iraq, and his account of the invasion and its uncertain aftermath is both stark and profoundly humane. . . . Shadid's concern isn't Pentagon policy but the interior life of the occupation, where the goals of the American mission remain, for the Iraqis he meets, tragically abstract.

A colorful and moving account.

Masterful . . . [Night Draws Near] may be the most important writing to come out of the war so far. . . . The book is full of historical background and subtle observations that help explain the mindset of the Iraqis. . . . [Shadid has] written a complex, sympathetic, and dark portrait of a people we still understand all too poorly. It's a book that every soldier, war planner, and policy-maker should read.

Shadid's stories are always affecting, sometimes uplifting, much more frequently heart-rending. . . . [An] unflinching depiction of wartime life.

In Night Draws Near, Shadid moves deftly between revealing, exemplary, close-up personal stories and a wide-angled historical analysis that is remarkably engaging and accessible.

Night Draws Near is perhaps the most nuanced, informative, and moving recent book about the Iraq conflict. . . . Essential reading for Americans.

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