There are 800 million Muslims in the world today, yet Islam is one of the world's least understood and appreciated religions. The culture of Islamic women and the mystery of a veiled society have endured any number of uninformed or hostile interpretations. Elizabeth Warnock Fernea spent the first two years of her marriage in the 1950s living in El Nahra, a small village in Southern Iraq, and her book is a personal narrative about life behind a veil in a community unaccustomed to Western women. She arrived speaking only a few words of Arabic and feeling dubious about her husband's expectation that she adapt completely to the segregated society in order to accommodate his anthropological study. When she left two years later she was an accepted and loved member of the village, inspired for a lifetime of work in Middle Eastern studies. The story of her life among the Iraqis is eye-opening, written with intellectual honesty as well as love and respect for a seemingly impenetrable society. Although the book was originally published in 1965, it surfaced again during the Gulf War in 1991 when many small villages were destroyed in Southern Iraq. This book gives readers a fuller sense of those communities and brings home the cost of war waged against civilians. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14
. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Rebecca Sullivan
From the Publisher
A delightful, well-written, and vastly informative ethnographic study, this is an account of Fernea's two-year stay in a tiny rural village in Iraq, where she assumed the dress and sheltered life of a harem woman.