Author(s): Emma Sky
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2016 SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE 2015 Emma Sky was working for the British Council during the invasion of Iraq, when the ad went around calling for volunteers. Appalled at what she saw as a wrongful war, she signed up, expecting to be gone for months. Instead, her time in Iraq spanned a decade, and became a personal odyssey so unlikely that it could be a work of fiction. Quickly made civilian representative of the CPA in Kirkuk, and then political advisor to General Odierno, Sky became valued for her outspoken voice and the unique perspective she offered as an outsider. In her intimate, clear-eyed memoir of her time in Iraq, a young British woman among the men of the US military, Emma Sky provides a vivid portrait of this most controversial of interventions, exploring how and why the Iraq project failed.
The riveting first-hand account of a young British civilian woman who volunteered to help rebuild Iraq immediately after the invasion in 2003, and soon found herself as a political advisor to the US military.
Shortlisted for Orwell Prize 2016.
A charming, insightful account of Sky's remarkable odyssey, of her experience among Americans and Iraqis -- Max Hastings Sunday Times The Unravelling reads almost like a novel: a detailed and darkly humorous account that tries to understand everyone involved, Iraqis and Americans, on their own terms... Sky's argumentative, chirpy and intelligent personality is thoroughly engaging -- Robin Yassin-Kassab Guardian A radiant and beautifully written account, at turns funny and sad -- Max Boot Wall Street Journal Important and disturbing... To counter Iran in Iraq and prevent the alienation that created ISIS would have required... perhaps, a thousand Emma Skys. But there was only one of those. -- Christopher Dickey New York Times Book Review Hers was a fascinating world of senior military and diplomatic figures, many of them of the highest quality... She knew all the leading Iraqi politicians, many of whom regarded her as a personal friend. She saw much of Iraq and had some hair-raising experiences. And she always kept her sense of opposition to what was being done to the country. Many people likened her to Gertrude Bell, the British political adviser who helped to create Iraq, and in some ways they were right. -- John Simpson New Statesman A detailed account of the challenges of occupation... Readers will realise exactly why Iraq produced strongmen like Saddam -- Colin Freeman Daily Telegraph The best book to date on the American war in Iraq... This authoritative first-person account is a must-read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the complexity of the Iraq war, and the road to the current crises with the Islamic State. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) The Unravelling is entertaining because Sky is a wry and intelligent companion. It is sad for its account of how the Obama administration squandered what Sky views as the victory that the surge had snatched from the first catastrophic years of US occupation. It is enlightening for how it helps us unlearn much of what we think we know Washington Post Sky's book... is the essential text on how everything fell apart NewYorker.com A scholar and a strategist, Sky's political perception alone makes worthwhile reading, including a preface that is as succinct a synopsis of Iraq today as you will find Military Times Sky's narrative is a valuable addition to recent history... What she experienced is relevant, and her story and perspective contribute to the ongoing effort to understand and explain the tragic aftermath of the much-criticized Iraq War. Booklist [A] sober, thorough and ultimately heart-rending examination of what, to this day, keeps Iraq unstable, unhappy and a never-ending foreign policy disaster...a book with a rare perspective... What Sky produced, years later, is worth applauding. The Unravelling may be the most straightforward account yet-and the best that Britain will have for a while-of the failures in Iraq. Financial Times A deft, nuanced, and often funny account of her years as a civilian official in Iraq. The New York Review of Books
Emma Sky is a Senior Fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute. She worked in the Middle East for twenty years and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services in Iraq. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.