Arrows of the Night
Ahmad Chalabi's Long Journey to Triumph in Iraq
By Richard Bonin
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385524735, 320pp.)
Publication Date: December 6, 2011
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In 1958, Ahmad Chalabi’s wealthy Shiite family was exiled from Iraq after a revolution that ultimately put Saddam Hussein in power. The young Chalabi devoted his life to restoring his family to prominence. His first coup attempt was in 1963 at age nineteen, while on a school break from MIT. His next was aided by Iranian intelligence. But as the years passed and Saddam stayed in power, Chalabi made an audacious decision: he needed the support of both Iran and its powerful archenemy, the United States.
Drawing on unparalleled access to Chalabi, Bonin traces the exile’s ingenious efforts to stoke a desire for Iraqi regime change in the U.S. He narrates Chalabi’s ill-fated engagement with the CIA and his later focus on neoconservative policy makers who rose to power under George W. Bush. As a result, from day two of the Bush presidency, the push for a new Iraq was on, with the intent to install Ahmad Chalabi as overseer of U.S. interests in the Middle East. The outcome was perhaps the biggest foreign policy disaster in our history and a triumphant end to Chalabi’s forty-five-year quest.
Today, as we prepare to withdraw our troops from Iraq, Arrows of the Night is full of shocking revelations about how we got there, including the true story of Chalabi’s relationship with Iran. This page-turner, with its definitive account of the war, irrevocably alters a story we thought we knew.
RICHARD BONIN is a producer at 60 Minutes, working with Lesley Stahl, and has won five Emmys for his work. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Praise for Arrows of the Night
"This is the most thorough telling of the story of Ahmad Chalabi... Arrows of the Night is a first-rate case study of both Middle Eastern émigré politics and the American way of dealing with the Middle East."
“Arrows of the Night is the best book on the Iraq War, bar none. Bonin has written the authoritative account of how one man, along with a handful of well-meaning but naïve confederates, conned the greatest power on earth into a war it will rue for years. I read it in a sitting, and it answered every question I had about this folly. It is a must-read for the historian and anyone with the slightest interest in politics.”
—Robert Baer, author of See No Evil and The Company We Keep
“People ask me, ‘Why was there an Iraq War?’ Now I can tell them: read Arrows of the Night. It’s the best-researched, most readable narrative about how a small group of people caused the United States to fight a war that was unnecessary, and, worse, counterproductive. Most Americans do not know who Ahmad Chalabi is, but this is the story of how every American has paid a price for Chalabi’s successful manipulation of our government.”
—Richard A. Clarke, author of Against All Enemies
“In Arrows of the Night, Richard Bonin has provided a stunning portrayal of Ahmad Chalabi that, for the first time, brings him to life and places him in his proper historical context. Bonin, one of our best reporters in Washington, provides a fascinating account of Chalabi’s secretive ties to the neoconservatives in the Bush administration, and shows us that Chalabi and the neoconservatives were engaged in an elaborate dance, using each other to justify war.”
—James Risen, author of State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
“A marvelous read about a tragic and deceitful relationship.”
—James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory, Body of Secrets, and The Puzzle Palace