To Be A Friend Is Fatal : the Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind

To Be A Friend Is Fatal : the Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind

Book - 2013
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Baker & Taylor
This powerful portrait of the human aspect of war follows the author, the first USAID reconstruction coordinator in Fallujah, as he, recovering from trying to take his own life and PTSD after failing in Iraq, started The List Project to help the Iraqis who stepped forward to help find refuge in America. (This book was previously featured in Forecast.) 40,000 first printing.

& Taylor

Describes how the author, as a USAID reconstruction coordinator, attempted to take his own life after failing in Iraq, an experience that led to his founding of The List Project, a seven-year mission to help Iraqis find refuge in the United States.

Simon and Schuster
The stunning memoir of “one of the few genuine heroes of America’s war in Iraq” (Dexter Filkins), a rare glimpse into the perspective of the Iraqi people, and a searching exploration of America’s moral obligations to those Iraqis who stepped forward to help.

In January 2005 Kirk Johnson, then twenty-four, arrived in Baghdad as USAID’s only Arabic-speaking American employee. Despite his opposition to the war, Johnson felt called to civic duty and wanted to help rebuild Iraq.

Appointed as USAID’s first reconstruction coordinator in Fallujah, he traversed the city’s IED-strewn streets, working alongside idealistic Iraqi translators—young men and women sick of Saddam, filled with Hollywood slang, and enchanted by the idea of a peaceful, democratic Iraq. It was not to be. As sectarian violence escalated, Iraqis employed by the US coalition found themselves subject to a campaign of kidnapping, torture, and assassination.

On his first brief vacation, Johnson, swept into what doctors later described as a “fugue state,” crawled onto the ledge outside his hotel window and plunged off. He would spend the next year in an abyss of depression, surgery, and PTSD—crushed by having failed in Iraq.

One day, Johnson received an email from an Iraqi friend, Yaghdan: People are trying to kill me and I need your help. After being identified by a militiaman, Yaghdan had emerged from his house to find the severed head of a dog and a death threat. That email launched Johnson’s now seven-year mission to get help from the US government for Yaghdan and thousands of abandoned Iraqis like him. The List Project has helped more than 1,500 Iraqis find refuge in America. To Be a Friend Is Fatal is Kirk W. Johnson’s unforgettable portrait of the human rubble of war and his efforts to redeem a shameful chapter of American history.

Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2013
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476710488
Branch Call Number: 956.7044 JOHNS JOHNS
Characteristics: 338 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm


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Aug 26, 2016

Good read. The issue of the US abandoning the local people whom helped us in Iraq and Afghanistan has been something I have cared about greatly long before this book come out. Most attention is focused just on the translators, but frankly anyone who helped any of the occupying nations are a target. The author discusses how so many road blocks are constantly erected in helping these people and how it really boils down to the USA hoping they either give up or get killed.

JCLMelissaW Apr 09, 2014

While working for USAID in Iraq, Kirk Johnson suffers a career-ending injury. Bitter and depressed, he is directionless and unemployed when a former Iraqi coworker emails asking for help immigrating to the U.S. because of death threats. Within months, Kirk has a list of several thousand American-employed Iraqis in the same circumstances. Kirk begins writing op-ed pieces, lobbying the State Department, and appearing on news shows to try to save them before the U.S. leaves Iraq. A well-written story! It makes you glad there are people out there like the author and distressed to read about the U.S. government's response.


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