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2007

Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Rajiv Chandrasekaran is the author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (Knopf, 2006), an exemplary work of reportage that takes us behind the barricaded walls of Baghdad’s Green Zone. Chandrasekaran chronicles how the Coalition Provisional Authority’s bureaucratic arrogance and ineptitude led to disastrous postwar planning and directly contributed to the chaos that we witness in Iraq today.

The Ridenhour Book Prize honors Chandrasekaran’s courageous reporting and recognizes Imperial Life in the Emerald City as a work of profound social significance that reveals the deadly consequence of American hubris.

In describing Imperial Life in the Emerald City, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author Steve Coll has written, “Every American who wants to understand how and why things went so badly wrong in Iraq should read this book.” The noted human rights journalist Samantha Power adds that “by giving us the first full picture from inside the Green Zone, [Chandrasekaran] depicts a mission doomed to failure before it had even been launched.”

Chandrasekaran reported from the Green Zone as the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post. He spent the six months leading up to the war in Baghdad, reporting on the United Nations weapons-inspections process and the build-up to the conflict. Before the U.S.-led war in Iraq, he was the Post’s Cairo bureau chief. Prior to that assignment, he was the Post’s Southeast Asia correspondent, based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has been a foreign correspondent for the Post since 1999 and currently heads the Post’s Continuous News department, which provides breaking news stories for the paper’s web site, www.washingtonpost.com.

Chandrasekaran joined the Post in 1994 as a reporter on the metropolitan D.C. staff. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he holds a degree in political science from Stanford University, where he was editor-in-chief of the Stanford Daily.