1001 Nights in Iraq: The Shocking Story of an American Forced to Fight for Saddam Against the Country He Loves

1001 Nights in Iraq: The Shocking Story of an American Forced to Fight for Saddam Against the Country He Loves

by Shant Kenderian
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Shant Kenderian's visit to Baghdad in 1980, at age seventeen, was supposed to be a short one — just enough time to make peace with his estranged father before returning to his home in the United States. But then Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and sealed off Iraq's borders to every man of military age — including Shant. Suddenly forced onto the front lines,

…  See more details below

Overview

Shant Kenderian's visit to Baghdad in 1980, at age seventeen, was supposed to be a short one — just enough time to make peace with his estranged father before returning to his home in the United States. But then Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and sealed off Iraq's borders to every man of military age — including Shant. Suddenly forced onto the front lines, his two-week visit turned into a nightmare that lasted for ten years.

1001 Nights in Iraq presents a human story that provides unique insight into a country and culture that we only get a hint of in the headlines. After surviving the horrors of the Iran-Iraq War, Shant was then forced to fight on the front lines of Desert Storm without being given the proper equipment, including a gun, but miraculously survived to be captured by the Americans and become a POW. He underwent starvation, heavy interrogations, and solitary confinement, but what broke him in the end was his love affair with a female American soldier. Yet throughout this whole ordeal, Shant never lost his respect for people, his faith in God, or his sense of humor.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

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

Mick Sussman
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
Publishers Weekly

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
Kirkus Reviews
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.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416540199
Publisher:
Atria Books
Publication date:
06/28/2007
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Shant Kenderian immigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen with his mother. He has earned several degrees, including a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He currently works for The Aerospace Corporation in the Los Angeles area, where he lives with his wife and three children.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >