From the Publisher
"Only a man of great courage and resilience could have survived such a harrowing ordeal. And only a storyteller of extraordinary talent could have related it with such humanity, grace, and humor." Andrew Carroll, New York Times bestselling editor of War Letters and Behind the Lines
"Shant Kenderian takes us on an emotional journey that is both tormented and complex and, in the process, establishes an important context through which we can view today's Iraqi conflicts. What a ride!" Liz Balmaseda, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
"If it were only a war story it would be riveting. If it were only a love story it would be profoundly moving. And if it were only the story of a man never losing hope in the face of bureaucracy, bigotry and bad luck it would be an inspiration. But, it is all of those things and a good deal more. Shant Kenderian has returned to us from hell with a message of hope." Scott Z. Burns, producer of An Inconvenient Truth
"We put Shant on our show because his story was human scale, in a way a lot of the daily news from Iraq can't be."
Ira Glass, host and producer of public radio's and Showtime's "This American Life"
"Kenderian writes matter-of-factly, with the stoicism of someone who has endured the seemingly unendurable. But his story is mind-blowing enough to keep you turning the pages." Entertainment Weekly
The bulk of 1001 Nights in Iraq, describing his life as a soldier during the Persian Gulf war, is the stuff of a standard battle memoir: comradeship, bad food, sleepless nights and boredom interrupted by violence. But this account is distinguished by Kenderian's wry humor and peculiar predicament.
The New York Times
Kenderian was on a brief trip to Iraq to visit his father in 1980 when the Iran-Iraq war broke out, and he was trapped under Saddam Hussein's rule until after the end of the first Gulf War in 1991. Being both an American and a Christian, Kenderian's harrowing experiences are recorded in careful detail, offering a compelling portrait of a nightmarish time. Collins splits the difference between plain-spoken English and precise pronunciation, choosing to primarily lean on the former and save the latter for Iraqi names and terminology. His voice is occasionally too normal-sounding, too placidly self-assured, to adequately convey the horror of Kenderian's story, but for the most part Collins gamely inhabits the grim world of 1980s Iraq. A simultaneous release with the Atria hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 16). (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Strangely compelling memoir by a self-described "man without a country," who relates his survival in and escape from Saddam's war-torn Iraq. Following his parents' acrimonious divorce in 1978, 14-year-old Kenderian left Iraq with his mother and brother for the U.S. Seeking reconciliation with his father, he returned two years later, only to have Iraq's borders close behind him at the outbreak of war with Iran. It lasted eight years; Kenderian ended up securing an engineering degree and serving in the Iraqi Navy. In 1990, after his father's death, he tried to renew his green card, but before the process could be completed, he found himself an unwilling conscript fighting yet another of Saddam's unprovoked wars. During the invasion of Kuwait and Operation Desert Storm, Kenderian decided his only chance of returning to the U.S. was to be captured by the Americans. His audacious plan succeeded, but not before a series of bizarre twists and turns more reminiscent of Kafka than Arabian Nights. The author and his frightened, unwilling comrades were sent into battle without sidearms, proper-caliber ammunition for the ship's guns, medicine or sufficient food. Kenderian's boat hit an Iraqi mine and was strafed by an American plane; he became the Gulf War's 23rd prisoner of war. At a succession of POW camps, his captors thought he was a spy, while his fellow captives were suspect of the unusual attention he received from the guards. Sustained by his considerable wits, his deep religious faith, his unlikely love affair with truck-driving American servicewoman Monica and the intercession of family and friends in the outside world, he eventually made his way to his mother's house in California.Kenderian's account is at some points overly guarded; his parents' story and his connection with Monica, for example, should have been discussed in more detail. His prose, an odd mixof world-weariness and naivete, is also problematic. The splendidly preposterous facts overwhelm any infirmities in the telling of this amazing personal history.