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Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos Paperback – August 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks; Reprint edition (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402237219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402237218
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,392,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

An American aid worker of Palestinian descent, Omar left an anxious family and a job at the World Bank in the Washington, D.C. area, for Baghdad in 2003 in order to help Iraqi women navigate the post-invasion turmoil in her new position at Women for Women International. Her book chronicles her experiences in war-torn Iraq, detailing the curtailed options facing many Iraqi women and the increasing dangers facing aid workers. Omar also outlines the tension between American troops and nongovernmental organizations, highlighting the risks involved in turning to the army for help. In the midst of the chaos, Omar forges life-long friendships and benefits from the generosity of the Iraqi people. As the country tilts perilously close to chaos, Omar is forced to evacuate briefly, an experience that brings home all that her life in Iraq means to her. Omar provides a rare glimpse into facets of Iraqi life not often described in American newspapers and magazines as she describes not only the dangers but also the joys, small and great. --Katherine Boyle

Review

Omar provides a rare glimpse into facets of Iraqi life not often described in American newspapers
and magazines as she describes not only the dangers but also the joys, small and great. (Booklist 2010-08-01)

"Giving both an insider's and an outsider's view of the unfolding drama of Iraq, the memoir should prove worthwhile reading for anyone who has a keen interest in developments in the Middle East." (Lois Henderson Book Pleasures 2010-08-13)

"We gain a picture of Baghdad beyond the Green Zone and through the eyes of a bright, young, idealistic humanitarian."
(A Traveler's Library 2010-08-24)

"A must read." (East County Magaine 2010-07-30)

"You may not be able to lay Barefoot in Baghdad down for a while. This book will capture your interest." (South by Southwest 2010-08-31)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

If I have a choice i would rather use it in better way for the country I love most.
Smita
Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to those interested in Iraqi women or American Muslim identity.
labfs39
I read this book a while back and have started to write a review a few times, but always ended up not finishing.
Vicki

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 72 people found the following review helpful By N. Taylor on September 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Manal is an American Muslim who follows Muslim traditions and chooses to wear a veil. She seeks out opportunity to return to Iraq, a country she fell in love with years ago and becomes the director of a small organization to assist women in Iraq; the women who are primary breadwinners but unskilled, widows, divorced women, and others.

The story begins with Manal attempting to assist Kalthoum, a 16 year old girl who was married off at the age of 13, raped and abused, and escapes to the streets to become a prostitute. Manal's mission is to find a safe place for this girl before her family claims her and honorably executes her for dirtying their name.

This is a strong beginning and grabs my attention. Unfortunately, there are few things within the pages that hold my attention. Most of the book is Omar telling the reader about the politics of Iraq, including the different organizations and brutally painting the United States soldiers as insensitive and uncouth, describing their poor decisions regarding the war in Iraq, its occupation, and organizations that were wrong. At the same time, Omar contrasts her own work and decisions to live among the Iraqi downtrodden, her embracing of the Iraqi way, her sensitivity and Muslim lifestyle, and occasionally includes a brief story of her work as a humanitarian aid worker.

What disappointed me about this book is that I found Omar's agenda to be splashed on nearly every page that the military was wrong and she wanted nothing to do with them. She was an aid worker and balked at any association.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By L. C. Henderson on August 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
Despite her family's opposition to Omar's assuming the position of country director in Iraq with Women for Women International, a group that helped female survivors of war to rebuild their lives, she quickly took up the reins of such a position, proving her worth in her many encounters with those women whom she helped free from a life of degradation and fear. The dichotomy of her status, as both Arab and American, born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian parents and raised in the American South, as a Muslim and a woman, she was in an ideal position to negotiate the hazardous and diverse microcosm of Iraq, still trying to recover from the ravages of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. In this moving memoir, she describes how she was among the first international aid workers to arrive in Baghdad in 2003. Barefoot in Baghdad tells of the two years that she spent working with Iraqi women as they struggled to create a new nation and a new identity for themselves.

Omar describes her daily battle to overcome prejudices in the society, which were present in many forms. She not only had to suppress her own misgivings about having to work sometimes in close conjunction with the US-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority, but also to persuade her Iraqi colleagues of the integrity of her intent. She asks a telling question at the outset of the memoir: "Who was better equipped to adapt within a country experiencing a period of tumultuous change than someone who had been raised with an ever-shifting identity?"

The redemptive nature of this tale, both on a personal and broader societal front, conveys a central message of hope overcoming what might so easily have been a position of despair.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Wilbur on February 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Take a journey inside Iraq during 2002-2004. See the people, hear from them, observe their struggles. The author writes her memoirs of being on the ground in Iraq, actively helping women rise above terrible situations while the war is waging and while danger was always lurking. This book helped me to get a view into the lives of real Iraqi people. Good reading for cultural learning. Author Manal Omar writes from a perspective not too keen on U.S. occupation in Iraq but acknowledges some of the benefits that came out of it. We all need to be willing to look at the situation with an open mind. Her parents were against her going to Iraq and thought she was out of her mind. Today they must be so proud of her.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JustMe on December 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up just because I thought it would be an interesting read. And, it was. It was a slow start for me, nothing grabbed me and pulled me in, but as I pushed through I ended up enjoying it. I found it very interesting to read about her experience in Iraq, both personal and professional, and this book covers some of both. The tragic events at the end of the novel left me wanting to read more about her friends and family. I just felt this book gave me a tiny view into another world I really knew nothing about, and what it was like to actually live there during the war. This wasn't my favorite book of all time, but I'd recommend it as a good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hasnain on December 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
A very well written book. I lived in Iraq for eight years during the time before Saddam and the early days of Saddam when he was the vice president. I left Iraq when I was in my late teens in 1969. I went there again in my fifties as a translator with the US military soon after the fall of Baghdad when the statue of Saddam was brought down and then again when Abu Ghuraib images were released.

While reading each page, I felt as if I was in Iraq itself. A very well written book.
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