Correspondents by Tim Murphy

This is a difficult book to read. Not because of the writing itself, but because of how true and common the stories are. Heard in statistics and facts on the news rather than the empathetic forms of family tales and scenes, Correspondents brings to light the truths that have so long been hiding in the Middle East conflicts.

The shallow truth is that America created the conflict. And the deeper truth is that America had and has no idea how to help people without either profiting from it or spilling blood. As much as Trump lowered the bar when it comes to everything, Bush’s presidency still barely measures up. Other than unsustainably blowing-up the real-estate bubble that led to the 2008 depression, his international policies only ambition was to maintain control of the oil industry.

A tense area maintained a tenuous peace for many years before American troops blew the fuse. Not to say that life was pleasant or even, necessarily entirely safe, under Saddam Hussein. Things weren’t good. But they weren’t as bad as America made it. America made it worse with no plan to make it any better.

As advanced of a society as America tries to be, or hopes to be, serious political blinders remain. An inability to measure a country’s success or happiness unless its formatted by us, or, even more common, our society’s inability to empathize and understand others unless they live similar lives. That’s what Correspondents focuses on.

One ethically-mixed American family spawned one war correspondent that influences the life of one gay Iraqi working to support his family during the invasion. This is the story under all of the media. Under the statistics and facts, the blood and gore, the complex relationships of Americans abroad and foreigners here, we’re all soldiers in a war of information. And more often than naught, the violent frontlines are here at home.

As important of a story as I believe this to be, I do have one problem with the format or writing itself. The main characters don’t appear for at least 150 pages. Before that, we’re reading the generational stories that led to her family. My issue with that, other than it confuses the reader into thinking they picked up the wrong book or read the blurb wrong, is that it would probably turn off the readers that I would hope pick-up this book. Those non-understanding groups that lost empathy and sympathy, fail to recognize life outside of their own peripheral, would not read a story about refugees. But that is the only point I have to make on the writing itself.

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