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Baghdad Diaries: A Woman's Chronicle of War and Exile Paperback

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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: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,828 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.


“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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Customer Reviews

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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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tamara L. Benson on February 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I didn't expect to like this book, I thought it would be full of sadness, which it sometimes is, or depressing, which it never is. It's actually rich with Nuha's sharp wit and wisdom, her incredibly smart take on the ironies in all of our lives, based on her experiences in Iraq during the first bombings. Read this--you will be so surprised to learn how much we all have in common. You will learn the best about human beings.
Nuha's story-telling is authentic and lovely and amusing and endearing. Each turn of her pages reminded me of my own family, reminded me of all of us. She was one of us--we humans who struggle to navigate a complex world so often out of our control-- but Nuha did it with such grace and elegance.

Nuha was a creative, educated, and often Avant Garde Artist. Through her eyes I viewed an Iraq that I had never heard about in the Western news: An Iraqi culture cultivating Art and the finer intellectual pursuits-- an intelligence rarely if ever described in Western media. Nuha Al-Radi writes of her world, one the West hardly knew existed--it's an enlightenment reading her stories of daily life there, under the worst conditions possible. I sit back now and wonder, what would her stories have been if things had been different-- more stable, more peaceful? She'd probably be showing her work in New York or Paris or Lebanon and we'd all be clambering to get tickets and following her on Facebook.
Nuha Al-Radi and her ilk will always be welcome at my table. It would be a great honor.
Okay, you just wanted a book review: this book is AMAZING, you'll love it. Then you'll start googling for her Art work and find some of her pieces, but you'll want to find more--like the show she did with figures with removable heads. Buy or borrow this book and start your search for something wonderful.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gromer on April 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'd like to point out in case the other reviews don't really flag this - Nuha Al-Radi is a really funny writer with a great, sardonic style. She's a well-connected, aristocratic Iraqi woman who lives in a devastated country and while the bombs fall she potters about her studio worrying about her kilns. She eventually had to sell them for money (to Saddam's people, who used them as pizza ovens!) She has a great eye for the ironies of life under Saddam's regime and has that ability to pick out all that is dysfunctional about her culture and criticize it, without becoming self-loathing. Everything she says about the Americans are self-evident to those of us who oppose the current Iraq war - in fact there are some great observations of hers where we are convinced that it's madness for the CIA to keep accusing Saddam of making sophisticated weapons when he and his people are so dumb they can't even get basic things right. I got a very real, vivid feel of the Iraqi as a proud, cultured people, which is an important perspective to have since we only see them as the receiving end of our bombs. At times this book reads like the Diary of Anne Frank - ironically, this time we are the Nazis.
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