Hundreds of U.S. diplomats and officials have served in Iraq, and scores have written books about their experience. Many of those books attempt to amplify limited experience into policy treatises with results that, in hindsight, are unremarkable. To

Hundreds of U.S. diplomats and officials have served in Iraq, and scores have written books about their experience. Many of those books attempt to amplify limited experience into policy treatises with results that, in hindsight, are unremarkable. To these, add Earle's account of his own time as a senior aid to John Negroponte, whose 2004-05 tenure as ambassador to Iraq following the departure of Coalition Provisional Authority director L. Paul Bremer is now largely forgotten.

Earle might have added insight. He worked in Iraq during the height of the insurgency, a time during which many other diplomat-authors had already left. Instead, Nights in the Pink Motel—the title itself a cutesy name for the Green Zone—is full of inane anecdotes and irrelevant details that reflect less the nature of Iraq and more the culture shock of a pampered diplomat inserted into a military environment who focuses on such details as signs proclaiming, "No long guns in the dining facility." He conveys conversations in almost cartoonish terms. Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich "barks," and Maj.-Gen. Michael Streeter "moans." There is little insight into Negroponte's interactions with Gen. George Casey, the senior military officer in Iraq, nor how Negroponte and Earle decided which Iraqi politicians to meet and which to shun, nor how U.S. officials sought to maximize their own influence at the expense of U.S. adversaries.

Earle's narrative conveys little evidence of serious planning or policymaking. His meetings convey little more sophistication than descriptions of Negroponte constructing bullet point lists during staff meetings. Perhaps Earle wishes to suggest his predecessors could not understand the obvious, but instead he highlights the lack of insight into the nuance of Iraqi politics with which Negroponte, Earle, and his team arrived, treating Iraq as a blank slate and discarding the hard-earned lessons of past experience.

Ultimately, Nights in the Pink Motel fails completely. To contrast Earle's account with that of Peter Mansoor[1] is to juxtapose an elementary school student's understanding of Iraqi politics and the insurgency with that of a university professor. In many ways, Iraq's occupation, the insurgency, and reconstruction are tales of woe. Many books might elucidate decision-making and embarrass U.S. policymakers. Nights in the Pink Motel will embarrass only its author.

[1] Baghdad at Sunrise (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008).