I bought Understanding Iraq, by William Polk, at the beginning of this year when I expected to deploy there. That deployment fell through, and there is no Understanding Djibouti. So I read this book instead. We could all use a little understanding.
Unfortunately, I can't review this book and adhere to my "no political content" policy, so I won't try. The book is interesting; it is slim and well-paced and written by an old hand with no need to prove his academic credentials to anyone, so it's easy to read. That said, the author, a trained historian, has very well-defined political opinions, and it is hard not to see that from the first section of the book, on ancient Iraq. It's tempting to say his opinions are formed by years of study, and of course to some degree they must be—and the author has spent a significant amount of time living and working in Iraq and so knows the place well apart from his study—but two people can look at the same set of facts and draw different conclusions. Readers inclined to Mr. Polk's point of view will find this book a quick read and a useful resource in discussions of the topic. Readers on the other side of the aisle will not be so inclined.