Manhattan to Baghdad, by Paul McGeough, a veteran Australian journalist, is an account of events from the summer of 2001 to the summer of 2002. The book contains rewritten news stories detailing McGeough's experiences in Afghanistan, New York City on 9-11, Israel and the Occupied Territories, and in Iraq.
At some point, someone is going to write a work describing the entire social and political realities behind the three wars that took place in the Middle East in this time period. Someone will describe fairly and academically the complicated mechanisms that led America to become so involved with so many disparate yet related conflicts. It may take at least 50 years to write such a book, and in the meantime, we have this work. This book is foremost a book of journalism, weaving a narrative out of real events and dealing with specific people. While the historical backgrounds of all the events are not fully explicated, McGeough manages to describe events with about as much passion and involvement as he can, while still remaining an fairly impartial observer to the whirlwind of events around him.
The book begins in Afghanistan, where McGeough was serving as a journalist before that nation came to the center of the world's attention. He later went to New York City to relax afterwords, and happened into 9-11. He then redeployed to Uzbekistan and rejoined the Northern Alliance for a fierce battle. The rest of the book covers his investigation of the bitter conditions in Gaza and the West Bank, and leaves off with him touring Iraq with weapons inspectors. Quite a lot of work for a book that is under 300 pages.
McGeough has no extremely new revelations about the situation, and his largest scoop seems to be that the US government gave tacit approval for Pakistan to evacuate Pakistanti taliban fighters out of Afghanistan in the last days of the war. He also exposes the open secret that Uzbekistan, one of the US' chief allies in the Afghanistan campaign, is a large human rights violator.
Although this book is not terribly in-depth, it is still good quick study material for an area of the world that just about everybody needs to know more about.