Timing and space dictate that this second offering from Verso - a slim volume of anti-Iraq war essays - gets a rather slim space in this issue of PN.
This collection of six short articles, written over the past three years by contributors Brian Eno, John Le Carre, Harold Pinter, Richard Dawkins, Michel Faber and Haifa Zangana, was published in March to mark the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
To a large degree this book is essentially “recycled material”: I didn't find much new or challenging here. Three years on and the issues - US imperialism, the corporate carve-up, allusions to the religious crusade, the Blair-Bush “axis of evil” - remain the same.
This felt more a collection of musings: Pinter's has a rather obtuse opening, others are quite straightforward. And while contributions from Richard Dawkins and John le Carre' might seem a curious prospect to those outside the peace movement, many PN readers probably saw their texts when originally published in 2003.
For me, Haifa Zangana's essay was perhaps the most interesting. As the only woman - and the only Iraqi - contributor, perhaps it should come as no surprise that hers was the only text which really gave any space to the experience of Iraqis - and, notably, Iraqi women. In Brian Eno's opening text he speculates that “simple male ego might have been the reason these two men [Bush and Blair] started the war”. In a book with space for six contributors I would have rather seen a bit more gender balance and heard the perspectives of more Haifa Zanganas.
However, if - as was suggested by the publishers and contributors at the press launch - the idea is that the general public will be lured into impulse buying this volume at the checkout during a regular trip to Waterstones or Borders, perhaps it will engage and inform (to some degree) people who would not pick up a more radical or weighty tome.