Filkins has chutzpah. He has been reporting on the war in Iraq since the days before Al Qaeda ever goaded the Bush administration into attacking Baghdad. What this book provides is the feeling of being on the ground in a country that is disintegrating. His writing is alive with the smell of a recent bombing by the U.S. Air Force, the sight of a freshly decapitated suicide bomber, and the sound of sniper bullets teeming past his head. It reads best if you recall some of the war’s history on your own, but it also stands alone as a gutsy, first-hand account of life among U.S. soldiers and ordinary Iraqis caught up in post-Saddam anarchy. January 2009.