Window Above The Porch by Kevin Constanzi Angel is set in and around Baghdad in 2005. Iraqi Angel leads one group of insurgents whose task is to leave a bomb in what’s called the Green Zone. In the process they  meet up with another more extreme insurgent group led by Arab Qasem on the same mission. Meanwhile some Americans led by Grant and Ra’ad are staging a hostage rescue, for which they feel unprepared, in the same area. It’s invevitable they’ll collide. The book’s intriguing title represents Angel’s spoken wish to watch over the world in safety and protect what is innocent. For Grant too this phrase is about protecting the weak from a random and violent world. Can either of them acheive their wish?

This is an incredibly powerful book. Seeing inside the minds and motivations of opposing forces is eye opening. True, this is a work of fiction, but it’s based on Constanzi’s experiences in Baghdad so we can accept that it reflects the reality there. The insurgents are not all out of control fanatics. George C says he has ‘no desire to kill myself in God’s name’ and Angel wants to return to his wife and daughters. But the insurgents resent this ‘infidel invasion of Iraq’ and have to fight it. The occupying  American soldiers know they could be killed by insurgents. “It had happened before. It could happen again.” They have to cope with this pressure and the knowledge that everything they do will be ‘Packaged examined and judged by the press’ and people and governments all over the world. There is incredible pressure on all sides to perform and achieve.

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