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Baghdad Diaries: A Woman's Chronicle of War and Exile Paperback – May 6, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Vintage Books edition (May 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400075254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400075256
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A London-educated Iraqi woman, al-Radi, recounts 10 years in her life, covering the Persian Gulf War in 1991, then the Western embargo on Iraq and finally the years she entitles "exile," which she spent primarily in Lebanon, occasionally visiting the United States. Al-Radi, an artist by training, writes powerful but not ostentatious prose, with abrupt, fragmented and simple sentences as she interweaves the violent, chaotic effects of war with everyday incidents. One may feel the urge to skim the detailing of run-of-the-mill events regarding, say, al-Radi's dog and his adventures. And the artistry and authenticity of al-Radi's voice will be marred for some by her ardent anti-Israel and anti-American sentiments. The author rightly addresses the devastation of war, the inevitable violence wrought on innocent civilians. But she does not address the context in which the Gulf War and the embargo took place. Mention of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and ruthlessness toward his own people is reduced to a bare minimum. Al-Radi singles out Israel for criticism of its policies regarding Lebanon and the Palestinians, at one point comparing Israeli policies to Nazi tactics. There is no question that war is brutal, and al-Radi touchingly portrays the Iraqi plight, but in her eagerness to cast blame, she loses sight of the bigger picture.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“I searched for recent books about Iraq that described it as a real country. I found only one, the excellent Baghdad Diaries.” —Edward Said

“I hope many people will read this book and note the futility of war and perhaps do something about it; all my life I have cherished this hope in vain, but we must not stop.” —Mary Wesley, author of Harnessing Peacocks and A Sensible Life

“Something of what sanctions mean for ordinary Iraqis. . .records the day-to-day struggle for survival.” —Times Literary Supplement

“Insouciant, charming and witty, with much black humour. Al-Radi writes poignantly.” —The Independent (London)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read an article by Edward Said during the December 1998 bombing of Iraq which mentioned this great book. I bought it thinking that I will read a simple diary of the hardships of war. I was wrong. It is a beautiful mixture of everyday events, which Al-Radi makes humourous. It is only humourous because our tears have dried over Iraq's suffering. It is a book I recommend for Iraqis because it states all that we hear about from visitors of Iraq. I recommend it to others because the media never shows these aspects. Perhaps it will help to make people realize that the distant pictures of green lights broadcast on T.V. are much more damaging than "degrading weapons of mass distruction". That is not to say that Saddam Hussein is not a dictator who must be eliminated. The final part of the book 'exile' is particularly moving as the suffering does not end with leaving Iraq. A great book, please read it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rana M. El-Khatib on February 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Ms. Al-Radi gives an amazing play-by-play of how the war (the massive bombing campaigns by the US and allied forces in Baghdad and neighbouring cities and the ensuing embargo) unfolded before her and the people of Iraq. I couldn't put it down.
Ms. Al-Radi has a knack for turning a seriously tragic situation into an almost funny account through her matter-of-fact statements. Still, somehow she manages to not lessen the impact of the tragedy.
Ms. Al-Radi does not paint an "Oh woe is me," picture but she invites the reader to walk by her as she takes us through the experiences of the people of Iraq, (her friends and neighbours, and even her dog Salvador Dali and his "friends," etc.). She paints vivid images of the various stages of the war. For example she describes, in the beginning of the war, how the Iraqis had filled up their freezers to the hilt with meat and vegetables and anything they could fit in there fearing the onset of war. But, as the first bombs hit taking out the electical plants and leaving Iraq without power, in total darkness and every refrigerator and freezer unfreezing, the Iraqis are left gorging themselves as their food begins to rot inside their quickly defrosting freezers.
Ms. Al-Radi then takes us into bowels of the war itself describing the massive bombs that obliterate and take out innocent human and animal lives by the hundreds (at any given time).
She finally steps into the final blow of the war (pun intended) -the cruel and unusual punishment of the embargo and the ensuing anarchy that it creates, in addition to the odd occurrences in nature.
Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rana M. El-Khatib on February 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Ms. Al-Radi gives an amazing play-by-play of how the war (the massive bombing campaigns by the US and allied forces in Baghdad and neighbouring cities and the ensuing embargo) unfolded before her and the people of Iraq. I couldn't put it down.
Ms. Al-Radi has a knack for turning a seriously tragic situation into an almost funny account through her matter-of-fact statements. Still, somehow she manages to not lessen the impact of the tragedy.
Ms. Al-Radi does not paint an "Oh woe is me," picture but she invites the reader to walk by her as she takes us through the experiences of the people of Iraq, (her friends and neighbours, and even her dog Salvador Dali and his "friends," etc.). She paints vivid images of the various stages of the war. For example she describes, in the beginning of the war, how the Iraqis had filled up their freezers to the hilt with meat and vegetables and anything they could fit in there fearing the onset of war. But, as the first bombs hit taking out the electical plants and leaving Iraq without power, in total darkness and every refrigerator and freezer unfreezing, the Iraqis are left gorging themselves as their food begins to rot inside their quickly defrosting freezers.
Ms. Al-Radi then takes us into bowels of the war itself describing the massive bombs that obliterate and take out innocent human and animal lives by the hundreds (at any given time).
She finally steps into the final blow of the war (pun intended) -the cruel and unusual punishment of the embargo and the ensuing anarchy that it creates, in addition to the odd occurrences in nature.
Read more ›
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gail Moore on July 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Eye witness account of events in Baghdad by an Iraqi artist, Nuha Al-Radi kept diaries over a period of about 10 years beginning with the 1991 war, covering the period of sanctions, her own periods away from Iraq, and ending in March 2003 when the current occupation was about to begin. Though the book flows easily and is often humorous, she is not really a great writer, much of her day to day descriptions are quite mundane even involving detail about her dog and his life, and so many different names of friends and acquaintances mentioned it is impossible to keep track. However this adds to the book's effectiveness, the ordinariness of the people is a backdrop to the massive bombing, environmental devastation and later the sickness and birth defects. This is not a book that discusses larger issues but is told entirely from the perspective of innocent civilians, here where Al-Radi resides the US/UK is perceived as doing more damage than Saddam.

Excellent choice for those interested in stories from inside Iraq.
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