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Act One: Semper Fido

Susan Orlean tells us about the moment America asked untrained household canines to make the ultimate sacrifice: to serve in World War II. Susan talks to Gina Snyder, who remembers being a teenager when her dog Tommy joined the service.

Prologue

Ira tells the story of how Oscar Ramirez, a Guatemalan immigrant living near Boston, got a phone call with some very strange news about his past. A public prosecutor from Guatemala told Oscar that when he was three years old, he may have been abducted from a massacre at a village called Dos Erres.

Act Four: What's Arabic for Fjord?

The podcast and stream versions of the show include a story here that is not included in broadcast. It catches us up with an Iraqi translator named Basim, who fled the country to Norway after his life was threatened because he aided the American forces.

Act One

Ever wondered what you might do with 18 days of rest after serving 15 months in combat? Reporter David Finkel followed one group of soldiers in Iraq for 15 months, and reported all of it in his book The Good Soldiers. Here is our radio version of one of the chapters in his book, where we hear actors read aloud what soldiers and families of soldiers told David about their break.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass speaks with reporter Larry Kaplow and producer Nancy Updike, who spent a month in Iraq as the US combat mission was ending, in August 2010, talking to Iraqis. They play excerpts from a conversation they had with a Shiite professor—who had pizza recently with a Sunni friend, and realized just how tense things still are in Iraq.

Act One: What Just Happened?

To understand where we are today in Iraq, we tell the story of one Iraqi, Saad Oraibi Ghaffouri Al-Obeidi, also known as Abu Abed—a man who fought alongside the US during the surge, and is now in exile—and what he saw, and was part of, over seven years of the war.

Additional This American Life Stories On The War in Iraq

Private Contractors True Number of Iraqi Deaths Lessons Learned in the War Soldiers' Stories Soldier Bloggers A House in Baghdad Citizen-Diplomat Tries to End the War Two Random Guys Try to Help Trying to Rebuild Iraq Start of the War And on the aftermath: Talk to an Iraqi - from TV series Sam Slaven

Act Two: Brothers from Another Planet

Sara Blaisdell tells the story of a group of Iraqi brothers whom her husband Sam befriended over the internet, and has been speaking with weekly for almost seven years. Their surprisingly intimate relationship has pulled Sam into a world that few Americans can access.

Prologue

Dal LaMagna, millionaire and creator of the Tweezerman tweezer, prepares to go to Iraq on a diplomatic mission he invented for himself—despite concern (and mocking) from his own sister.

Act One: Man Of Lamagna

Dal LaMagna made a fortune selling high-quality grooming products. And after retiring, he wanted to do some good in the world.

Second Half Prologue

Ira speaks with Milt Hileman of the Center for Army Lessons Learned about the single most-requested publication they put out, Soldiers' Handbook: The First 100 Days: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. It explains how to avoid getting killed in your first hundred days in Iraq, which is when a disproportionate number of U.S. casualties occur.

Act One: Truth, Damn Truth And Statistics

Two years ago, a Johns Hopkins University study published in The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number—100,000 dead—that was higher than any other estimate at the time and was mostly ignored.

Act Two: Not Just A Number

Captain Ryan Gist was given a particularly tough assignment in Iraq: To build relationships with a town where U.S. bombs had killed twelve innocent people. But first he has to apologize to the families of those who were killed.

Act Three: The War This Time

The Lancet's new study of deaths in Iraq, by the same research team that did the earlier study, yielded an astounding number—650,000 civilian deaths. Producer Alex Blumberg talks to Ira about the debate over this new study.

Prologue

We're a nation at war, but it hardly feels like it. That contrast is especially jarring for people like Hannah Allam, who just returned home to Oklahoma after two years in Baghdad running the Knight-Ridder Newspapers bureau there.

Act One: Truth, Damn Truth, And Statistics

About a year ago, a John Hopkins University study in the British medical journal The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number—100,000 dead—that was higher than any other estimate, and was mostly ignored.