"As a Brit, a woman and a liberal, Emma Sky's presence and position in Iraq following the invasion in 2003 is the stuff of fiction. Shortly after the coalition troops went in, Sky, an Arabist, volunteered to go to assist the Coalition Provisional Authority in the occupation. Alone, she made her way to Baghdad, was told they had enough people, so travelled north, to Kirkuk. Within days she became the most senior civilian there, Kirkuk's lady governor. When the house she was staying in came under mortar fire, Sky realised that she must integrate herself within the US Army in order to survive. She moved into the army compound, initially sleeping in a tent with seven soldiers, and soon won the confidence of top US military officials, among them Gen Odierno, now head of the US Army, who became friend, confidant, mentor. Two years later Sky was back in the UK when she received an email out the blue from Gen Odierno. It was time for the prosecution of the Surge: would she help? Sky became Odierno's key political advisor, and found herself at the very heart of US operations during the perilous and volatile days of the Surge.At the end of 2007 she left once more but almost immediately was recalled for a final tour, when again Odierno sought her help. This time she worked alongside him until 2010, leaving only when US combat operations were ended. A vivid first-hand account of the occupation of Iraq, this is also a deeply personal memoir that explores what it is like to be British, alone and a woman, working both within and outside of the US Army. As Sky writes, 'I have encountered many alien cultures on my travels, but none so alien as the US Army.'"