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Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq First Feminist Press Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1558614895
ISBN-10: 1558614893
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  • Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Iraqi women's voices have been virtually silent since the fall of Baghdad. Yet four months after Saddam's statue toppled in April 2003, the pseudonymous Riverbend, a Baghdad native then 24 years old, began blogging about life in the city in dryly idiomatic English and garnered an instant following that rivals Salam Pax's Where Is Raed? This year's worth of Riverbend's commentary--passionate, frustrated, sarcastic and sometimes hopeful--runs to September 2004. Before the war, Riverbend was a computer programmer ("yes, yes... a geek"), living with her parents and brother in relative affluence; as she chronicles the privations her family experiences under occupation, there is a good deal of "complaining and ranting" about erratic electricity, intermittent water supplies, near daily explosions, gas shortages and travel restrictions. She rails against the interim governing council ("the puppet government") and Bush and his administration--and is sardonic on Islamic fundamentalism: as Al Sadr and his followers begin to emerge, Riverbend quotes the Carpenters's "We've Only Just Begun." But Riverbend is most compelling when she gives cultural object lessons on everything from the changing status of Iraqi women to Ramadan, the Iraqi educational system, the significance of date palms and the details of mourning rituals. Just as fascinating are the mundane facts of daily life, like her unsuccessful attempt to go back to work--no one would guarantee the safety of a woman in the workplace. The blog continues at; like this book, it offers quick takes on events as they occur, from a perspective too often overlooked, ignored or suppressed.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Riverbend is the pseudonym of a young Iraqi blogger; this book archives the first year of her blog, Baghdad Burning. Once a computer programmer who enjoyed considerable personal freedom, after Baghdad's fall, Riverbend finds herself unemployed and largely restricted to the safety of her family's home. In English that would put many Americans to shame, she chronicles daily life under the occupation, writing about water and electricity shortages with humor and exasperation, writing about violence with deep feeling. She also explains more complicated topics, painting a surprising picture of prewar harmony between religious groups (she herself lives in a mixed Sunni and Shiite household). Riverbend's take on politics is so perceptive that readers may wonder if she is actually a Beltway antiwar activist--although such readers should also question their assumption that an Iraqi couldn't write this well or be so well informed. But the greatest accomplishment of this intriguing book lies in its essential ordinariness. Riverbend is bright and opinionated, true, but like all voices of dissent worth remembering, she provides an urgent reminder that, whichever governments we struggle under, we are all the same. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY; First Feminist Press Edition edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558614893
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558614895
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 141 people found the following review helpful By David Dix on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
First, this book is NOT written by James Ridgeway. He just wrote a short introduction to the book. Amazon should change its copy to reflect that Riverbend is the author of this collection of blog entries.

Riverbend is a woman in her mid-twenties living in the hell that is Baghdad. Her blog "Baghdad Burning" is an example of how vital the blogging phenomenon can be. She gives us, in "real time", a deeply intimate view of what is actually happening to the people of Iraq by describing what she and her family members are going through.

Her entries are sometimes funny, often angry, always compassionate. She is well educated and well read, knows a great deal about American culture and is ferociously honest.

Her entries are not ideological, like those of many other Iraqi bloggers. She speaks from her heart, not her politics.

Writing is writing, but great writing is rare and deserves to be honored. We are not a time, yet, when the literature of the Internet can be respected as equal to that in print. But, if there ever is a Nobel Prize for Internet Literature, Riverbend should be its first recipient. She is the equal to any essayist writing today. Even when angry, she writes with a delicacy, with true elegance that no other writer I know can match.

Each day, thousands of people around the world view her blog. Many days we are disappointed she has not made an entry. That is not because we love her writing and have learned so much from her expression of her point of view; we all open her page just to make sure she is still alive, that she has not been shot or bombed, or raped or subjected to any more suffering than she and her family have already experienced.
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47 of 56 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Seigenthaler on June 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Internet users, myself included, have been following Riverbend's blog for a few years now and I can barely express how thrilled I am that it has finally been published. With any luck, the remainder will be published and her full story will be told. This is the most believable account of day-to-day life in occupied Iraq that I have ever seen. Bagdhad Burning would be an excellent tool for teachers that want to bring the current situation abroad into a more complete context than we see in news coverage. High school age children will be drawn in by the experience of someone closer to their age (she was 24 when she started her blog), and will likely empathize with her struggles and her passion.

Thought there are several blogs maintained by Iraqi civilians, this one has a clear, compassionate voice and she seems much like any one of us. Her daily struggles to get by can be quite compelling, as she combats things like intermittent access to electricity and water. Her English is perfect. In fact, her English is better than many native speakers. She is highly intelligent and articulate. She will inform you and she will make you cry.

In order to make the war more acceptable, there are many who would like us to think of Iraqi civilians as less than human, that Muslims somehow value life less than the "rest of us". Riverbend makes it impossible to fall into that trap. Her voice is as clear and as present as your sister's, your neighbor's, your closest friend's. You will ache for her and pray for her family.

If you read this book and want to know what happens next, the blog is ongoing at [...] She continues to update, roughly every two weeks, unless some major event comes sooner.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jalus on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ive been reading this Iraqi woman's blog for sometime, as ive found it to be witty, humane, intelligent, impassioned, imformative about current events in Iraq, and provides a memorable reflection on how life is lived under a military occupation. This is by far the best blog on Iraq, and not surprisingly the book has won an award.

Isnt it best to learn events from a local who is there and outside the Green zone? To listen to what the natives are experiencing? Rather than just embedded foreign journalists with little contact with the people?

Yes, she passionately rejects the US invasion, and wants the americans out of her country. That seems to be a crime in some quarters. That does not make her anti-american: it does make her a patriot.

Not surprisingly, she has come under attack by a number of pro-war reviewers, who prefer Pentagon feed. One claims Riverbend is a north american, out to fool us. Her sources for this bit of bilge? A (unnamed) marine and her (former)Naval Intelligence husband! That writer is the one blinded by 'mythology'.

I will continue to read this wonderful writer and can recommend her to anyone not yet aware of her existence.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John Crutcher on April 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
There are a number of levels on which this amazing collection of blogs succeeds. First, of course, is that it provided a valuable perspective on Iraq and the Iraqi people that is unique. It brings home the horrors of living in a war torn land, riven with internal strife and occupied by an foreign army with pathetic leadership at the top, civilian level. Just as valuable is this wonderful, fresh voice, this fascinating woman who can no longer practice her profession and who sees a great backward leap in the rights of women. It is not at all a stretch to read this as literature as well as an amazing documentary of a time and place.
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