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Making Money

Andrew Cockburn: The Chalabis

1 December 2011
Late for Tea at the Deer Palace: The Lost Dreams of My Iraqi Family 
by Tamara Chalabi.
Harper, 352 pp., £12.99, July 2011, 978 0 06 124039 3
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From Dictatorship to Democracy: An Insider’s Account of the Iraqi Opposition to Saddam 
by Hamid al-Bayati.
Pennsylvania, 347 pp., £23, February 2011, 978 0 8122 4288 1
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... Tamara Chalabi’s chronicle of her family might make for an ideal TV series, recounting as it does a comforting upper-class idyll complete with loyal attendants, marred only by revolution, exile and controversy and concluding with a triumphant return home to prosperity. An honest recounting of the story would have to feature among its climactic episodes the chequered career of the clan’s most famous member, Tamara Chalabi’s father Ahmad, the collapse of his banking empire in 1989, a subsequent conviction in absentia for embezzlement and 22-year jail sentence, his ensuing career in the 1990s as a CIA ‘asset’ leading to brilliant success as a manipulator of US politicians and media and culminating in the invasion and occupation of his own country ...

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