Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq

3.77 avg rating
( 364 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781400157822: Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

A parallel army lives on the margins of the Iraq war-nearly 100,000 armed men, invisible yet in plain sight, doing jobs the overstretched and understaffed military can't or won't do. The U.S. media call them "security contractors." They call themselves "mercs," and they operate under their own rules.Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru traveled with several groups of security contractors to find out what motivates them to put their lives in danger every day. What emerges is a searing, revealing, and sometimes darkly funny look at the men who live and work in the battlefields of Iraq: some are desperate, some are confused, and some are just out for a lark. Some disappear into the void that is Iraq and are never seen again. It's not a pretty picture that Fainaru reveals, but it is brutally real and shockingly honest. Big Boy Rules is an unforgettable leap into the mayhem of Iraq and into the dark recesses of the minds of American policymakers and the warriors they hire.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Steve Fainaru, an award-winning correspondent for the Washington Post, is coauthor of The Duke of Havana: Baseball, Cuba, and the Search for the American Dream.

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Ralph Peters During the American struggle for independence, German mercenaries employed by the British crown terrorized rebellious soldiers and civilians with equal enthusiasm. This formative experience imprinted an abhorrence of mercenaries on our national character: We never hired our guns. Until now. As a result of its mania for outsourcing essential government functions, the administration of George W. Bush found itself embroiled in Iraq without sufficient troops on the ground and with a secretary of defense who resisted deploying additional soldiers, preferring to channel funds to private contractors. The result was the unleashing of renegades on the people of Iraq. The sadistic, too-often-murderous conduct of thousands of private security contractors -- our contemporary euphemism for mercenaries -- not only shattered critical relationships between our troops and the local population but also shamed our country. Washington Post columnist and 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winner Steve Fainaru's Big Boy Rules is the most vivid account to date of the misfits, thugs and outright psychotics who kill with impunity under corporate flags. Describing the legal vacuum that prevailed until 2007, the author writes: "They give them weapons . . . and turn them loose on an arid battlefield the size of California, without rules. . . . None of the prevailing laws -- Iraqi law, U.S. law, the [Uniform Code of Military Justice], Islamic law, the Geneva Conventions -- applied to them." Again and again, taxpayer-funded mercenaries shot down Iraqi civilians without provocation, sometimes just because "I want to kill somebody today," as one mercenary put it before going on a rampage. Much of the media and the U.S. government looked the other way -- the first because its narrative line was military failure, the latter because it was stunned when ideology collided with reality. Denied authority over the hired guns, the military seethed at the damage done to its mission. Worst of all, the State Department hired Blackwater USA (now Blackwater Worldwide), a politically well-connected firm with a reputation even among mercenaries for renegade behavior. Capping dozens of disgraceful incidents, in September 2007 Blackwater gunmen allegedly killed 17 unarmed Iraqis in a matter of minutes in downtown Baghdad, an atrocity for which five contractors were indicted this month. Afterward, the State Department still insisted its diplomats needed Blackwater for protection. The firm's contract was renewed, and "by the end of 2007," Fainaru notes, "the company had made a billion dollars off the war." Our diplomats hired gunmen to protect them, and the gunmen ravaged our diplomatic efforts. According to one Iraqi security official quoted in Big Boy Rules, "Blackwater has no respect for the Iraqi people. They consider Iraqis like animals, although actually I think they may have more respect for animals." In my own visits to Iraq, I found our troops consistently disgusted with the private security contractors, not least because our soldiers often were blamed for the mercenaries' outrages. Our troops saw outlaws, but the Iraqis just saw Americans. Not all of the contractors were Americans, of course. As Fainaru reports, the security shortfall in Iraq was so dramatic that the Bush administration blessed the hiring of dubious foreign companies with morphing names. Qualified security operatives were available only in limited numbers, so the fly-by-night firms took on virtually anyone who sought employment: military washouts, ex-cons, gunmen fired by other contractors and the utterly unqualified. Mercenaries conducted a wide range of missions, from checking identification cards at dining facilities, to guarding convoys and protecting dignitaries with pre-emptive firepower. The gunmen -- some illiterate -- came from the United States, Britain, South Africa, Australia, Peru, Uganda, Nepal and various other countries. Many of the Western hires were dysfunctional characters who could make it in neither the military, with its demands for emotional stability and discipline, nor in the civilian world. More than a few of the mercenaries were looking for trouble, and in Iraq they found it. Fainaru, who made 11 reporting trips to Iraq, deserves great credit not only for pursuing this inadequately covered, infuriating story but also for searching beyond the pseudo-professionalism of the big-name contractors to investigate the dozens of smaller outfits preying on the war. A significant portion of Big Boy Rules follows five mercenaries from the Crescent Security Group, a Kuwait-based, minimally credentialed firm that sent convoy guards into Iraq with third-rate weapons, poor communications, death-trap vehicles, no qualified medics and resentful Iraqi hires who eventually betrayed the men with whom the author traveled. The mercenaries Fainaru covered were taken captive a week after he left them. Their eventual murders were gruesome. Parts of their bodies surfaced several months later. The tale of how these men who had failed at everything else blundered into their new line of work (for up to $7,000 per month) is harrowing and well told, but it leads the author into a trap: He bonded with the "mercs" and their families to the extent that he regards their fates as tragic. Yet nothing in their public lives rose to the level of tragedy. They weren't going anyplace, so they went to Iraq. Not even Fainaru's considerable skill can make us care much about these lost souls. Nonetheless, this book is consistently engaging and powerfully instructive. As a retired soldier, I found only one (offensive) inaccuracy: Fainaru's claim that the mercenaries were "composed mostly of retired soldiers and marines." That's simply wrong. Very few of the mercenaries in Iraq had made it through full military careers (those interviewed in detail by the author either bailed out after a single hitch or never served at all). Even many of the former special-operations personnel hired by firms such as Blackwater either left the military because they ultimately didn't measure up or simply got out to grab the contractor money (a sin of the first magnitude to honorable soldiers). The gulf between those who wear our country's uniform and mercenaries is at least as wide as the gap between good cops and criminals. Attempting to excite sympathy for the mercenaries he rode with in Iraq, Fainaru reveals personal histories of feckless amorality. When these men died, their families suffered, but society did not. The Bush administration may have served as Mephistopheles, but there was no Faust among its hired guns.
Copyright 2008, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy New View Book
List Price: US$ 19.99
US$ 19.95

Convert Currency

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.

Destination, Rates & Speeds

Add to Basket

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Steve Fainaru
Published by Tantor Media, Inc, United States (2008)
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Book Depository International
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2008. CD-Audio. Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English . Brand New. A parallel army lives on the margins of the Iraq war-nearly 100,000 armed men, invisible yet in plain sight, doing jobs the overstretched and understaffed military can t or won t do. The U.S. media call them security contractors. They call themselves mercs, and they operate under their own rules. Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru traveled with several groups of security contractors to find out what motivates them to put their lives in danger every day. What emerges is a searing, revealing, and sometimes darkly funny look at the men who live and work in the battlefields of Iraq: some are desperate, some are confused, and some are just out for a lark. Some disappear into the void that is Iraq and are never seen again. It s not a pretty picture that Fainaru reveals, but it is brutally real and shockingly honest. Big Boy Rules is an unforgettable leap into the mayhem of Iraq and into the dark recesses of the minds of American policymakers and the warriors they hire. Seller Inventory # AAC9781400157822

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 19.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Steve Fainaru
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Grand Eagle Retail
(Wilmington, DE, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description MP3 CD. Condition: New. MP3 CD. A parallel army lives on the margins of the Iraq war-nearly 100,000 armed men, invisible yet in plain sight, doing jobs the overstretched and understaffed military can't or won't do.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 0.091. Seller Inventory # 9781400157822

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 19.96
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Steve Fainaru
Published by Tantor Media, Inc, United States (2008)
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2008. CD-Audio. Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English . Brand New. A parallel army lives on the margins of the Iraq war-nearly 100,000 armed men, invisible yet in plain sight, doing jobs the overstretched and understaffed military can t or won t do. The U.S. media call them security contractors. They call themselves mercs, and they operate under their own rules. Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru traveled with several groups of security contractors to find out what motivates them to put their lives in danger every day. What emerges is a searing, revealing, and sometimes darkly funny look at the men who live and work in the battlefields of Iraq: some are desperate, some are confused, and some are just out for a lark. Some disappear into the void that is Iraq and are never seen again. It s not a pretty picture that Fainaru reveals, but it is brutally real and shockingly honest. Big Boy Rules is an unforgettable leap into the mayhem of Iraq and into the dark recesses of the minds of American policymakers and the warriors they hire. Seller Inventory # AAC9781400157822

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 20.23
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Steve Fainaru
Published by Tantor
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
BuySomeBooks
(Las Vegas, NV, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Tantor. No binding. Condition: New. Dimensions: 7.5in. x 5.3in. x 0.6in.A parallel army lives on the margins of the Iraq warnearly 100, 000 armed men, invisible yet in plain sight, doing jobs the overstretched and understaffed military cant or wont do. The U. S. media call them security contractors. They call themselves mercs, and they operate under their own rules. Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru traveled with several groups of security contractors to find out what motivates them to put their lives in danger every day. What emerges is a searing, revealing, and sometimes darkly funny look at the men who live and work in the battlefields of Iraq: some are desperate, some are confused, and some are just out for a lark. Some disappear into the void that is Iraq and are never seen again. Its not a pretty picture that Fainaru reveals, but it is brutally real and shockingly honest. Big Boy Rules is an unforgettable leap into the mayhem of Iraq and into the dark recesses of the minds of American policymakers and the warriors they hire. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. MP3 CD. Seller Inventory # 9781400157822

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 20.96
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Steve Fainaru, Patrick Lawlor (narrator)
Published by Tantor Media, Inc. 2008-12-08, Old Saybrook (2008)
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Blackwell's
(Oxford, OX, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Tantor Media, Inc. 2008-12-08, Old Saybrook, 2008. audio CD. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # 9781400157822

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 20.24
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 8.08
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Steve Fainaru
Published by Tantor Audio (2008)
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Tantor Audio, 2008. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M140015782X

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 29.61
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Steve Fainaru
Published by Tantor Media (2008)
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Tantor Media, 2008. Compact Disc. Condition: Brand New. mp3 una edition. 7.50x5.25x0.75 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # x-140015782X

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 28.07
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 8.07
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Fainaru, Steve
Published by Tantor Audio (2008)
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Tantor Audio, 2008. MP3 CD. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11140015782X

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 47.87
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Fainaru Steve
Published by Tantor Media, Incorporated
ISBN 10: 140015782X ISBN 13: 9781400157822
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Majestic Books
(London, ,, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Tantor Media, Incorporated. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # 6785385

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 43.61
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 7.39
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds