From Publishers Weekly
There is a place where a non-profit agency arranges for homeless people to live in an abandoned swimming pool, where a 12-year-old diabetic boy works in a shoe factory to buy insulin, where a woman who was once an engineer now defends her property with a Kalashnikov, and where a musician continues playing Beethoven's Sonata in G-minor while missile strikes light up the night. Canadian journalist Ditmars toured these and other lesser-known quotidian realms of post-invasion Iraq in 2003, and in this book shuttles back and forth between her pre-and post-invasion reporting trips to create a portrait of a land that is now more dangerous than ever, especially for Iraqi women. Ditmars does not flinch in the face of irony, nor is she shy about her politics and anti-American perspective as she presents a persuasive and sympathetic case for her point of view, but the book would be richer if these stories were better balanced and anchored to a deeper historical-political context. A reader who is already familiar with the complexities of contemporary Iraq will reap the greatest benefit. Nonetheless, the world Ditmars reveals to general readers is both fascinating and heart wrenching, adding often overlooked human stories to the war in Iraq. Photos.
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Iraqi teenagers have never known a time without war; the present conflict is the third war the country has been subjected to in 20 years. Furthermore, a report to the United Nations reveals the bitter truth: children were better off under the rule of Saddam Hussein, and one-fourth of Iraqi children under age five are now chronically malnourished. As Canadian journalist Ditmars relates her experiences in Iraq then and in 2003, she reminds us of the consequences of years of sanctions and now of war. On an almost regular basis, parents are forced to sell precious art and family heirlooms to buy medicine for their children, some women are forced to prostitute themselves in order to feed their families, and others are abducted and never heard from again. It seems that women, like children, actually fared better under Saddam. Although artists still create and musicians still perform, these are desperate times for the Iraqi people, and Ditmars portrays their plight with great sensitivity and respect. Pamela CrosslandCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved