Oliver Poole was the West Coast correspondent for the Daily Telegraph from September 2001 until the spring of 2004. In 2003 he was embedded with the Third Infantry Division of the US Army during its push from Kuwait to Baghdad. He was until recently the Iraq Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, based in Baghdad. He is presently researching his next book.
Imagine cheering on your national football team as your country falls apart; risking suicide bombers and kidnappers to go to the shops; or driving your wife to hospital through roadblocks manned by terrorists as she’s about to give birth…
RED ZONE: FIVE BLOODY YEARS IN BAGHDAD is Oliver Poole’s account of daily life for Iraqis, as well as the British and American soldiers sent to Iraq. It’s also the story of Ahmed Ali, tourist guide turned Telegraph interpreter, a job that made him an insurgent target. The author first crossed into Iraq in March 2003, from Kuwait, as a Daily Telegraph reporter, ‘embedded’ in the back of an American armoured vehicle. Three weeks later, his unit had fought their way to Baghdad. But when Poole returned to London, he was haunted by the dead: had the bloodshed been worthwhile?
Eighteen months later, as the Telegraph’s Baghdad Bureau Chief, he came back to find a country racked by suicide bombs and the burgeoning horror of the Sunni-Shia civil war. There he met Ahmed, his closest friend in Baghdad. For the next two years, they worked out of the Baghdad hotel suite where the author lived. Inevitably, they could not remain unscathed: Poole’s hotel-home was blown up and finally Ahmed’s family, part Shia, part Sunni, tainted by their international connections, became engulfed by the violence.
"Mr Poole's vivd RED ZONE is one of several first-person British accounts ... filled with details that are at once sad and wryly amusing ... his sense of the absurd and his ear for a quote make for a memorable account."
“Poole is a fascinating narrator, chronicling his own disillusionment alongside the stories of his Iraqi friends and the deteriorating state of the nation. Hard to put down, this hard-hitting but deeply compassionate memoir showcases an expert reporter pushing his skill and humanity to their limits.” Publisher's Weekly
In a gripping and action-packed narrative Oliver Poole describes how he came to be "embedded" in the US tank and infantry company known as the Black Knights: the first unit in the Third Infantry Division to engage in combat when, twelve hours after crossing the Kuwait border, it helped seize an airfield in the outskirts of Nasiriyah. His company was at the head of a column that fought its way through Republican Guard units on the day the American army reached the outskirts of Baghdad, and finally led the advance from the west into the centre of Saddam Hussein's capital. Oliver Poole has written a compelling, honest and brave fly-on-the-wall account of what frontline combat action meant in the first major war of the 21st century.