“In this fascinating story of Iraq’s first decade following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Zaid al-Ali merges a technocrat’s expert knowledge with a patriot’s zeal to expose the corruption, incompetence and malfeasance that have brought reconstruction to a virtual standstill and governance to the breaking point. He infuses his distressing analysis with insightful anecdotes based on his own experience as part of the rebuilding effort, in which he played a somewhat invisible yet important part, and contends that when the foundations – notably the 2005 constitution – are flawed, the structure erected on top of them is no less so, to deleterious effect. The way forward, he suggests, is to pursue a reset – a fundamental overhaul that Iraq’s current rulers are certain to reject and resist, and to therefore ground this effort in the stratum of mid- to senior-level state officials who are highly skilled, tireless, and imbued with a strong sense of duty to their country, and who have kept things going, incredibly, as the politicians have made an utter mess of things. This book is one of the very few in-depth studies to emerge from inside Iraq’s system so far this past decade, and hands-down the best”.