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Dancing in the No-fly Zone: A Woman's Journey Through Iraq Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Interlink Pub Group Inc (September 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566566347
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566566346
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,671,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Crossland
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By ndib on April 10, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature - that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance - and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth?"

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Brothers Karamazov

Early in Dancing in the No Fly zone, Hidani Ditmars cites Madeleine Albright's famous reply when asked about UNICEF's estimate that 500,000 children died during the sanctions on Iraq: "I think it is worth the price." Dancing in the No fly Zone provides a chilling look at exactly what that price is.

Ditmars visits Iraq in 2003 and reports on life in the streets of Iraq, strewn with garbage and washed by raw sewerage. She tells her story through visits with Iraqis: business men, artists, press handlers, and mothers. And she tells it without apology.

She is at her best when telling the stories of mothers trying to hold her families together, alientated husbands and starving children.

As one Iraqi says near the end of the book, Iraq has gone steadily down hill since Saddam came to power in 1968. She does niether glorifies nor demonizes. She simply tells us how Iraqi people fared under sanctions, and she lets Iraqi ambibvalence about the American overthrow of Saddam and our subsequent occupation of Iraq speak for itself. Above all she toasts the spirit of the people she clearly loves.

We hear on the news about the utter lawlessness in Iraq, about the lack of medicine, the lack of electricity and clean water.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Farrah Karapetian on November 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
there aren't any other books on iraq like this, nor are there any other books like this on war or women... hadani ditmars has written a complicated account of her experience in a country whose culture she appreciates. she writes in a way that does not "other" the iraqis or emphasize the foreign nature of their being, but rather describes their situation in terms that are flatly human and contemporary. the book is both serious and fun, written with an almost conversational voice. she manages to communicate facts of the iraqi predicament that include both the everyday and the bureaucratic, oscillating in tone between ironic detachment and real grief.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Speight on June 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
For the past 15 months I have been Iraq, mainly Baghdad, serving as a gunner for my unit. I received Hadani Ditmars' book "Dancing in the No Fly Zone" from a friend of mine in Canada. Before reading the book I had an understanding that a lot of the problems Iraqi's faced were caused by American actions in the past.

What she has written hasn't really changed how I feel towards the Iraqi people. I do not hate them, though I do say insensitive things with my squad, and I do not look down on them. When I was younger I wanted to be a minister to help people, but now, I am a soldier in Iraq, and my biggest regret is that I haven't helped any Iraqis. I wish I could have, but our mission prevented us from really helping the people of Iraq.

I would have enjoyed actually talking to any Iraqi, but that was impossible as well. Her book helped me see the people of Iraq, not as victims, or as terrorists, or however else they are portrayed in the media, but as people.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reynold Orchard on September 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a fine book. Ditmars took me on a tour of her experiences as a Canadian journalist, culling on 7 years of assignments in Iraq. With the exception of the front page of today's Oregonian, "Life and Death in Baghdad", I have seen nothing else in my reading of the news, and my favorite magazines, that comes close to showing how the everyday life of Iraqis is affected by the occupation, and previous sanctions. Everywhere else I see journalists dealing in abstractions, without a shred of cultural understanding and true compassion. With courage and aplomb,the author is able to use a variety of connections and disguises to connect with artists, musicians, intellectuals, laborers, prison keepers, health care givers, a suspected undercover agent, and even a "king in waiting". She is sensitive also to the women and children of Iraq, in these very trying times. We need more good books and reports about life on the ground in that distressed country.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tracey M. Bell on September 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
How can I be laughing out loud while reading a book on Iraq ? Hadani Ditmars danced into my heart with with her stories . As an artist , I especially relate to her and her friends . I went on an exciting adventure with a brave , wild woman and felt compassion for and connection to Iraqi people by reading her book .
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Mondor on January 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a book about Iraq from a civilian's perspective and it should be read for its own merits and not, at all, as a title seeking to justify the Iraq invasion or villify the US government. Ditmars focuses on the civilian element in her book, and rarely strays into military territory. She tells us what she learned talking to the Iraqi people and because of that, this is a title that should be studied and appreciated on levels separate from those that dissect the war on terror and Iraq's part in it. Do not read this book looking for excuses or anger over the invasion - read it just to see how life became for the Iraqis in the wake of the invasion and what they think about it. From my review of "Dancing in the No-Fly Zone" at Eclectica Magazine here is a brief synopsis:

Canadian journalist Hadani Ditmars traveled to Iraq several times throughout the late 1990s and beyond, and in her book Dancing in the No-Fly zone she does a very interesting comparison between life in the country under Saddam Hussein and after the American invasion. Her book was published before the sectarian violence escalated into civil war, but she provides an excellent snapshot of the years leading up to that catastrophe and shows also how many people were struggling to prevent it, to live their own, normal, lives.

Ditmars is not sure why she is so captivated by Iraq and its people but is clearly in awe of the long cultural history it holds. "Cradle of civilization, birthplace of Abraham, capital of the Islamic world under the great caliph Haroun al-Rashid, and more recently a center of pan-Arabism and artistic and intellectual life, Iraq is not a place to be considered lightly. It is a place to read poetry, a place to study holy books, to ponder the meaning of civilization.
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