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Babylon by Bus
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About the Author

Ray LeMoine dropped out of Northeastern University in 1999 and spent the next five years running the "Yankees Suck" T-shirt operation outside Fenway Park. As CEO, he was based everywhere from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to Spain's Basque region to Revere, Massachusetts. In early 2004, he traveled to Baghdad with Jeff Neumann to help spread freedom and democracy. He lives in New York. Jeff Neumann worked as a volunteer NGO coordinator for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad in early 2004 after several failed attempts at becoming a professional poker player. He currently resides in New York City and continues to travel as much as possible while trying to stay out of third-world jails. Donovan Webster is an award-winning journalist and author. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. He is currently employed as spiritual adviser and bail bondsman for Jeff Neumann and Ray LeMoine.

Reviews

In 2003, authors LeMoine and Neumann left their jobs selling "Yankees Suck" T-shirts outside Fenway Park and traveled to Iraq in search of wisdom and experience. Backpackers, stoners, and partygoers, they swiftly got jobs with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) coordinating the efforts of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Later, they worked for an NGO distributing clothes to dirt-poor children in Sadr City. Totally unqualified but willing to work, they traveled freely throughout Baghdad until a brush with a death squad made it clear that they had to leave or die. Their observations from the bottom of the CPA hierarchy and from the streets of the city add a considerable degree of texture to the reporting of the period after major combat. Their opinion that the CPA was largely unconnected to reality is shared by many antiwar writers, but their take is far from one-sided-they point to many able and dedicated people looking for solutions in an increasingly volatile environment. More memoir and travelog than history, this book provides a gritty look at the people who actually make a career of helping out in war zones and the ways in which they manage to keep some shred of sanity. Recommended for subject collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/06.]-Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

What do you get when you mix a couple of booze-guzzling, Valium-addled, 20-something slackers from urban America with centuries-old sectarian hatred and a dubious war? Well, you get this alternately lame, alternately compelling tale from the first year after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. At loose ends, T-shirt merchants (selling "Yankees suck" at Fenway) Lemoine and Neumann decide to head out to Iraq by way of Israel. Having passed on an opportunity to go to Baghdad earlier in the war-"During Iraq's looting, the thought of loading up a stolen Lamborghini with Persian rugs and Baathist booty had crossed our minds. Stupid, I know"-these scalawags quickly find themselves in the middle of the Green Zone in Baghdad, scamming their way into jobs managing an NGO, dodging angry mobs in Sadr City and partying with just about everybody in town. Along with the boozing ("Jeff and I awoke at the NPR house with searing hangovers from a night of booze and pills"), there's a lot of name-dropping (among many others, Jon Lee Anderson of the New Yorker). Not entirely without merit, the book does capture a sense of the madness of postwar Iraq. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Innocents Abroad meets Fear and Loathing ... inside the mess of post-liberation Iraq. (Jon Lee Anderson, author of The Fall of Baghdad) A report from the civilian front lines . . . funny, provocative, maddening and largely riveting. (Chicago Sun-Times)

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