Kesteren~Geert van – ‘Why Mister, Why? Iraq 2003 -2004’*


Author: Geert van Kesteren / Michael Hirsh /Jan Gruijters
Publisherr: Artimo Publishers 
Year: 2004
ISBN: 9085460093

Softcover, 225 x 175 mm. First edition, 544 pp., 245 pictures, Text in dutch, in arabic and in english.  Design by Mevis & Van Deursen. 
Condition: mint, as new
Just a week after the war ended in April, 2003, Dutch photojournalist Geert van Kesteren travelled to Baghdad. Assigned by UNICEF, Newsweek and Stern, he would report from Iraq for almost seven months, working as an embedded journalist for seven weeks, a position about which he initially had had strong doubts. But there was no choice. Having visited Iraq and the Arab world extensively in the years before, he had his own contacts and insights into this complex society that was once again being shaken by violence. Van Kesteren experienced the absurdity of the war and the underlying clash of cultures, and converted this into images and text. This resulted in an impressive book, bearing witness of what went wrong in Iraq during the American occupation.

“Why Mister, Why?” Iraqis cried out these words in outrage at the acts of US troops, which they could not understand. American soldiers in turn used them as a taunt to ridicule the despair of the people they captured. Van Kesteren saw it written as such on the door of a toilet at an American base. Why Mister, Why?illustrates the widening gap between the Iraqis and their occupiers. They are the question of those who did not know what to expect, and those who saw the Americans as their liberators who would bring democracy. “There were countless people in Iraq who told me the same thing: ‘If this is democracy, then they can keep it’”, Van Kesteren writes in his introduction to the book.

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