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Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War

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Overview

Winner of the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize

A Washington Post Book World Top Five Nonfiction Book of the Year

A Seattle Times Top Ten Best Book of the Year

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

In 2003, The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid went to war in Iraq, but not as an embedded journalist. Born and raised in Oklahoma, of Lebanese descent, Shadid, a fluent Arabic ...

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Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War

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Overview

Winner of the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize

A Washington Post Book World Top Five Nonfiction Book of the Year

A Seattle Times Top Ten Best Book of the Year

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

In 2003, The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid went to war in Iraq, but not as an embedded journalist. Born and raised in Oklahoma, of Lebanese descent, Shadid, a fluent Arabic speaker, has spent the last three years dividing his time between Washington, D.C., and Baghdad. The only journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for his extraordinary coverage of Iraq, Shadid is also the only writer to describe the human story of ordinary Iraqis weathering the unexpected impact of America's invasion and occupation. Through the moving stories of individual Iraqis, Shadid shows how Saddam's downfall paved the way not just for hopes of democracy but also for the importation of jihad and the rise of a bloody insurgency. "A superb reporter's book," wrote Seymour Hersh; Night Draws Near is, according to Mark Danner, "essential."

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Editorial Reviews

Michiko Kakutani
It leaves the reader with a devastating sense of the gap between the war's aims and its aftermath and the gap between the administration's rhetoric and the realities on the ground. Though much of the factual material in the book will be familiar to dedicated newspaper readers, Mr. Shadid does a fluent job of pulling all this information into a riveting narrative that is animated by his up-close and personal portraits of individual Iraqis.
— The New York Times
James Webb
… as a piece of reporting on the forces that are shaping today's Iraq, this is as fine a book as one could hope to read.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Born in Oklahoma and fluent in Arabic, journalist Shadid (Legacy of the Prophet) has the gift of a caricature artist, capturing personality in a few deft lines. In this set of reportage-based profiles from Baghdad pre- and post-March 2003, we meet Amal, a 14-year-old girl who moves from faith to fear to gallows humor in her diary; a long-married couple who bicker affectionately (the husband says George Bush is his hero; the wife wants to talk only about the lack of electricity); a Muslim cleric in Sadr City who has "the kind of swagger that a pistol on each hip brings." The portraits are intimate, often set in people's homes, and are rendered with such kindness they fall just short of sentimentality. Yet Shadid does not shy from the ugliness of violence, rendering the swollen corpse of a child left in the sun and the disarray of a bombed house, its front gate "peeled back like a can." The book, which moves among scenes and characters like a picaresque novel, is not only a pleasure to read but a welcome source of information. Shadid offers just enough history and context to orient the reader, and he includes the kinds of details-adages, prayers, lyrics from pop songs-that make a place come alive. In the end, Baghdad is the character he mourns most. Agent, Robert Shepard. (Sept. 7) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his work in The Washington Post, Shadid, an Arabic-speaking American of Lebanese ancestry, offers a gripping account of just what the subtitle describes. His is not so much the story of why and how the United States got into this war, nor of the political dynamics in Iraq before and after Saddam Hussein. Those matters are there in the background, but Shadid's subject is the people of Iraq — what they thought and how they responded to their situation in the last days of Saddam's brutal reign, during the short, successful American invasion, and thereafter into the turbulent and insecure period of occupation. To tell such a story well one must be embedded in and accepted by the host society while being able to pick up its cultural cues. This Shadid accomplishes. He is wary of drawing lessons, coming closest in bemoaning "the inevitable divorce between war's aims and its reality." At least one other lesson is surely implicit: an alien invasion to overthrow even the worst of tyrants will not long be welcomed if the ensuing occupation cannot provide at least minimal public security.
Library Journal
Shadid, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for the Washington Post, brings to Baghdad a fluency in Arabic and an Arab American's perceptive understanding. Shadid's skill and sympathy thoroughly convey all levels of Iraqi opinions about Saddam Hussein, fellow Iraqis, and the American occupation. Yet the book provides much more than a collection of inspiring and sometimes tragic vignettes. Shadid's explication of political Islam is compelling. He interprets the "personality cult" of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Sadr and the "Mahdi Army," along with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the "one man who stood in his way." Shadid concludes amid the sheer confusion and violence during the elections of January 2005 in Baghdad, "a city where promise seems unending and loss keeps unfolding." Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/05.] Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sharp-edged profiles of ordinary Iraqis, many of whom, tired of awaiting democracy, are practicing resistance. An Arabic-speaking Lebanese-American from Oklahoma, Washington Post reporter Shadid found it comparatively easy to move among the civilian population of Iraq, and among people who have been careful to guard their thoughts from officials of whatever uniform. Heralds of unintended consequences, American occupation forces in Iraq have made the country "an unwilling participant, drafted into a fight that it did not solicit"; the fall of Saddam, Shadid remarks, ushered in not the "liberation" that the administration held as a mantra, but instead confusion and indeterminacy. One bit of confusion is voiced by a bright Shiite woman named Yasmine, who wonders how it could be that the Donald Rumsfeld who came to Baghdad in 1983 full of praise for the Baathist regime of Saddam could return 20 years later with news that Saddam was a font of evil in the modern world. "Why didn't the American officials see Saddam for what he was years earlier?" Shadid writes, voicing her wonder. Saddam Hussein was widely loathed and reviled, and few in Iraq had problems with his absence per se; still, the longer American boots remain on Iraqi ground, the more the Iraqi resistance grows, and Shadid charts some unlikely alliances among Iraqis divided along every possible axis but who agree that the occupiers must go. Says one, a sheik often at odds with the regime and often imprisoned as a consequence, "When I was in jail, we thought about how Saddam could be overthrown. I told the other prisoners, ‘If Bush gets rid of Saddam, I'll paint a picture of him and hang it in my house.' " He adds that he will now do soonly when he is certain that the Americans are liberators, not occupiers-as no one now seems sure, with no end in sight to the fighting, and no resolution of all that confusion. Solid, eminently readable reportage that offers no comfort for readers on the lookout for that light at the end of the tunnel.
From the Publisher
2004 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting Citation for Anthony Shadid's "Extraordinary ability to capture, at personal peril, the voices and emotions of iraqis as their country was invaded, their leader toppled, and their way of life upended."

"He has achieved nothing short of authoring the first classic, indispensable account of the Iraq War." —The American Prospect

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312426033
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 7/11/2006
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 823,285
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Shadid

Anthony Shadid has reported for the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, and, since the beginning of the war in Iraq, The Washington Post. In addition to the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, his stories from Iraq have earned him an American Society of Newspaper Editors award for deadline news reporting and the Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award for best newspaper or wire-service reporting from abroad. While at The Boston Globe, Shadid was awarded the 2002 George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting for a series of dispatches from the Middle East. An Arab-American of Lebanese descent, he was born and raised in Oklahoma and now lives in Washington, D.C., and Baghdad.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The City of Peace

Baghdad is a city of lives interrupted, its history a story of loss, waiting, and resilience. In the days before the American invasion in March 2003, this capital scarred by war after war felt torn, aggrieved, and filled with longing for the greatness it once possessed and has never forgotten.

As we drove beneath a cloudless sky, the familiar voice of Abdel-Halim Hafez, one of Egypt's legendary singers, rose from the car's tinny speakers. Karim, my driver and friend, maneuvered his white Chevrolet along the avenues, as the city wavered between the anxious wait for American bombs and the fear of what Saddam would do to defend himself once they arrived. Knots of Baath Party militiamen manned sandbag emplacements, their nervous eyes shadowed by their berets or camouflage helmets or kaffiyehs of checkered reds and blacks. They stood in relief against the barricaded dun-colored utilitarian buildings constructed during the three decades of Saddam's rule. Nearby, the Tigris River meandered, its muddy waters encircling overgrown reeds that had never grown so high in gracious times. Along its banks were mosques with their hourglass domes of turquoise and gold, bricks in shades of blue, tiles with calligraphic contours of black and white. The colors of the city were softened by the afternoon sun into the hues of an antique Persian carpet.

Through the car window, we could hear the call to prayer dividing the day, embracing the summons from other minarets and soothing the neighborhoods. Staccato bursts of horns—the refrain of Arab cities—enlivened subdued streets, accompanied by the clatter of battered wooden carts pulled by weary horses, two men atop each. Behind them were loads of anabib, the kerosene cylinders used in the stoves of Baghdadi kitchens. Some were blue, some yellow, some rusted into a monochromatic brown. The drivers banged screwdrivers on the cylinders to announce their arrival, as they have done for decades. Karim and I were headed for the Hawar Art Gallery, but on the way we meandered a bit.

I wanted to take a last, long look at Baghdad before the bombing began. We drove down colonnaded Rashid Street, a once grand boulevard named for the capital's most illustrious ruler. It was now collapsed, colored in the grays of poverty, its arches sagging and its shutters hanging at the slack angles of neglect. We passed a bust of Baghdad's founder, Abu Jaafar al-Mansur, in a dreary square of the neighborhood that takes his name. Its pedestal of tan brick was crumbled, its blue tiles fallen amid the plastic bags and cigarettes that littered the circle. The founder's eyes glowered beneath his turban, staring out over a jumble of garages, a gas station, shops, and cars with cracked windshields.

Haggard already, the capital was immersed in uncertainty, awaiting another battle. Iraq had been waging wars for a generation, usually at Saddam's instigation. There was shame, in many quarters, over what had been done to Kuwait and Iran in Saddam's name. Iraq felt weary as the Americans prepared to invade; all the fighting over all the years had taken away much of the nation's generosity and dignity and left brutality.

I had returned to Baghdad on March 11, 2003, five months after the opening of Abu Ghreib and just days before the bombing began. My previous itinerary had carried me through the bleak, post-9/11 Middle East. The American response to the destruction of that day—the martial rhetoric of the Bush administration, the dispatch of the U.S. military to Afghanistan, and the detention of prisoners at the military base in Guantánamo Bay—had evoked Arab anger as the lopsided conflict between Israel and the Palestinians accelerated further. Anyone who defied the Americans was admired. Osama bin Laden, whose venomous ideology actually alienates the vast majority of Arabs, had become an unlikely folk hero.

In Jordan and in Egypt, emotions were heating up, but Arab leaders had already thrown in the diplomatic towel. "To say that we can put off the war would be fooling ourselves," said Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, a figure who then seemed as modest in ambition as his predecessors were larger than life. As he and his fellow leaders capitulated, their people grew angrier. At protests across the Middle East, nervously tolerated by the governments, chants denounced "American terrorism" in the same breath as "Israeli aggression." At some demonstrations, Iraqi flags went up with Palestinian flags, as the two battlegrounds became conflated in Arab eyes. I remember the chants. "Wake up, Arabs, save your Palestinian and Iraqi brothers!" Or, more to the point, "There is no god but God and America is the enemy of God!" And then, an appeal that was at once clichéd and resonant, earnest and hollow: "Biruh, bidam, nafdeek, ya Baghdad," marchers chanted outside Cairo University. "With our soul, with our blood, we sacrifice for you, Baghdad."

Time and again, I am struck by how seldom I hear the word hurriya, "freedom," in conversations about politics in the Arab world. It does appear, but often in translations or in self-conscious comparisons to the West, where the word is omnipresent. Much more common among Arabs is the word adil, "justice," a concept that frames attitudes from Israel to Iraq. For those who feel they are always on the losing end, the idea of justice may assume supreme importance.

And justice, it seemed to many in the Middle East, was no longer being served by the Americans; this feeling was becoming more and more enflamed, even in places where U.S. citizens had once been welcomed. Well-to-do Jordanians spurned invitations to dinners attended by Americans. Cairo taxi drivers occasionally declined to pick up foreigners in expatriate enclaves. Americans would still be greeted when they entered a room, but they were no longer always offered the almost requisite coffee or tea. Among Egypt's wealthier residents—a group long disposed favorably toward America—there was a resurgence of piety that some saw as a repudiation of the West and a visceral reclamation of Arab identity. Devotion had become a statement as political as it was religious.

And then there was Shaaban Abdel-Rahim, a former laundryman and part-time wedding singer in Egypt catapulted to fame all around the region in 2001 by his song "I Hate Israel." Now he came out with another manifesto, "The Attack on Iraq," a blend of anger, fear, and humor, wrapped up in the staccato vernacular of Cairo's streets. It became an overnight pop sensation in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and elsewhere. Hour after hour it played. Bootleg tapes poured into the market. The hit blared from taxis careening through downtown streets. Lines were quoted from memory.

Enough!

Chechnya! Afghanistan! Palestine! Southern Lebanon! The Golan Heights!

And now Iraq, too? And now Iraq, too?

It's too much for people! Shame on you!

Enough! Enough! Enough!

Against the cacophony of the Arab world, Baghdad seemed quiet, so hushed that it felt a little unreal. As America framed the war one way, the Arab world another, Iraq simply seemed to be trying to come to grips with its arrival.

There were hints of preparations, but the sense of crisis seemed strangely routine. Checkpoints set up on the modern, German-engineered highways were manned by torpid soldiers. Long lines formed outside some bakeries and gas stations. For the most part, though, the city went about its business as usual. Workers methodically splashed cement on brick, building a long-planned addition to the Information Ministry. A worker wielded a buffer, slowly shining the granite highlights of the ministry's walls and windows. There was little anger; most fervency was manufactured, the tired climax of farcical, government-organized protests. Few were sincere in their defense of Saddam, who was loathed. Few objected to his demise; many hoped for it. But the feeling most prevalent was subdued anxiety. People were preparing—for war, so unpredictable, and for what they anticipated would be a long and bloody aftermath.

Late in the afternoon I arrived at the Hawar art gallery, a bucolic outpost of whitewashed stucco walls and a gate painted in a Mediterranean blue along a quiet street shaded by trees. A cool, gentle breeze blew off the Tigris River nearby, drifting over the stone patio as the artists gathered here paused to appreciate the fleeting tranquillity. Maher Samarai, speaking with the exuberance of a performer and the reflectiveness of an artist, pondered Baghdad on the eve of its reckoning. He was an Iraqi, he said; the city was his capital. He was a resident, he continued; it was his soul. He was a ceramist; it was the inspiration of his work. And then, suddenly, the gravity of the situation hit him, and his confident smile faded. As his city stood on the verge of war, he stared out at a towering palm tree that leaned over the gallery, waiting in silence before he could continue.

"For a week, I can't sleep. Really," Maher confessed, finally speaking again as he methodically thumbed his string of blue worry beads. "I worry about the bridges, the homes, the beautiful buildings, our artistic scene that we built after 1991 that is going to be smashed. A lot of artists have left for cities outside Baghdad, and there is no guarantee we will gather again." His friends nodded in agreement, and Maher stopped once more, savoring the fleeting moment of nostalgia. "Our art is like a white dove, and the B-52s are about to come to make it black," he said. "I hate the color black."

I mentioned a line from George W. Bush's speech a day earlier; on March 17, 2003, the president had declared to Iraqis: "The day of your liberation is near." Maher, sipping sweet lemon tea, smirked again. He was garrulous, fifty years old, a father of three, his hair gray but still lush. His mustache was trimmed, carefully. "They're going to burn the forest to kill the fox," he said smiling. "That's my idea."

There's a line from history that nearly everyone in Baghdad remembers: "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." The speaker was Major General Sir Stanley Maude, the British commander who in 1917 entered the capital to end Ottoman rule. (He died in Iraq eight months later of cholera and was buried in Baghdad.) Although Iraqis tend to forget his name and often reduce his remark to a simpler phrase—"We came as liberators, not as conquerors"—the idea has proved memorable. So has the aftermath, a legacy that Iraqis ruefully note. The British remained in Iraq and in control of its oil for decades. "Exactly the same sentence," Maher said to me, his voice rising as he compared Maude's words to Bush's. "It's a flashback to when Iraqis were still without shoes, without clothes, and the oil went directly to other people's pockets. You can't trust the Westerners."

As the afternoon wore on, cigarettes burning idly and dark tea sweetened amply, the bravado became apparent that is so much a part of Iraqi national character. There was talk of the surging Tigris and its ferocity. For Egypt, with its reputation for humor and revelry, the Nile was its good fortune. The river brought life when the waters surged over the banks, leaving millennia of rich silt that enabled people to impose a verdant farmland on the desert. The Tigris—reckless, unpredictable, and given to temper—destroyed when it flooded. It left hard personalities in its wake, they told me, and it delivered Iraqis their well-deserved reputation for toughness.

Yet beneath the artists' moments of swagger was fear for Baghdad's fate—fear of the destruction of an American-led attack, of the lawlessness and looting that almost everyone expected, of the destiny of the capital. A friend of Maher's, a woman artist sitting nearby, set down a clip for an AK-47 rifle on the table in front of him, then left the gallery without saying a word. "I borrowed the gun from a friend of mine," he said, in answer to his friends' stares. "I worry about thieves. I just bought a new car and a new computer and they're expensive. If I have to fight for my house, I will."

As the hours passed, the painters, sculptors, and ceramists at the gallery indulged in hanin—nostalgia—as they gazed out at the city's concrete overpasses and martial boulevards, past Saddam City, the teeming Shiite Muslim slum. They spoke of the past, invoking the names of history, the names of memory: the caliph Haroun al-Rashid, the poet Mutanabi, and the tenth-century philosopher al-Hallaj, whose ecstatic utterances of divine love were not always well received. ("I am the truth," al-Hallaj once said, a pledge to God read as blasphemy that got him dismembered and his body burned.) Baghdad, to the artists on the eve of war, retained the greatness of those names. It still rivaled Damascus and Cairo, as it had when it was truly the seat of the Arab world.

Rome can still see its past, the magnificence of its ancient empire gracing the modern cityscape. Paris and London, storied cities reinventing themselves as they age across centuries, live in their histories, which surround them. Baghdad, its ancient grandeur utterly destroyed, cannot see its past, its glory. It can only remember. Baghdad's is a culture of memory; the city draws strength and pride from the myths to which it continually returns. But the curse of recalling is the reminder of what has been lost.

All cities are shrouded in legend, some fabulous, others more pedestrian. The tales of the founding of Baghdad in the eighth century revolve around the conqueror Abu Jaafar Mansur, second caliph of the Abbasid Empire. The Christian monks who served him lunch at their monastery not far from the future Baghdad told him of a prophecy that a great city would be founded nearby by someone with the name Miqlas. "By God, I am that man!" one historian quoted Mansur as shouting. The caliph insisted that he, as a boy, had been nicknamed Miqlas.

After spending the "sweetest, most gentle night on earth" at the site, he awoke to see its perfection. Here, the Tigris River watered lush fields, and canals stitched the rich countryside. Along with the nearby Euphrates, the Tigris promised revenues for Mansur's empire, which already stretched from North Africa to Central Asia. In 762, Mansur himself laid the first bricks for his capital, inaugurating a project that took four more years to complete, a truly imperial undertaking. Craftsmen, architects, and laborers were drafted from across the empire; 100,000 were always on hand.

Towns in Iraq were stripped of material. From famous ruins in ancient Babylon and the Persian city of Ctesiphon came quotas of bricks. Wasit, to the south, surrendered five wrought-iron gates that, according to tradition, were built by demons under the sway of King Solomon. Kufa gave another gate, as did the city's imperial predecessor, Damascus. They would all adorn the fabled Round City, a perfectly circular capital that served as Mansur's residence and the nexus of his Islamic empire. It was protected by brick walls, insulated by a deep moat, and fortified by an inner wall ninety feet high. Roads radiated from the four gates: the Khorasan Gate opened to the frontier of China, others to Mecca and its pilgrims, west to Damascus, and south to Basra.

Arising from the palace, known as the Golden Gate, was the fabled green dome, visible from the river to the city's outskirts. The figure of a warrior horseman stood atop it—a fitting symbol of an empire that came together and was preserved by Mansur's sword. Medinat al-Salam, Mansur called his capital. The City of Peace.

The founder lived for thirteen years here, passing away in 775 on the road to Mecca. According to his orders, one hundred graves were to be dug to confuse his enemies. His death preceded his city's glory: Baghdad would soon spread far beyond the shadow of Mansur's green dome, growing to ten times the size of Constantinople, one of its few imperial peers. Based on the number of its bathhouses, some estimates claimed that 1.5 million people lived in the city, with at least 2 million in its heyday. Another estimate, not altogether sober, boasted of 96 million residents.

Perhaps the number was no more than 300,000, but no city in Europe could claim a fraction of that population or match Baghdad's array of hospitals, places of worship, museums, libraries, law schools, racetracks, zoos, public baths, or asylums for the insane. In the words of one contemporary historian, "I have seen the great cities . . . but I have never seen a city of greater height, more perfect circularity, more endowed with superior merits or possessions, more spacious gates . . . than Zawra, that is to say the city of Abu Jaafar al-Mansur." To him, the city was faultless: "It is as though it is poured into a mold and cast."

Not a trace of Mansur's original city remains; of medieval Baghdad, there is a crumbling minaret here, a collapsed wall on the old city's outskirts, but no more. What makes the city's memory tangible is its reputation. Its cultural legacy was indisputably one of the great flowerings of human achievement in history. In the West, the names of the geniuses behind the city's golden age mean little, but in Baghdad, in the Arab world, the names of those times remain heroic, even fabled. Their mere mention evokes two centuries of intellectual splendor, drenched in confidence. The ancients studied in places like Bayt al-Hikma, the House of Wisdom, founded by al-Ma'mun, the great-grandson of Baghdad's builder. Not a simple library, it was a true marketplace of ideas, a pristine place of scholarship whose translators of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, Euclid, and Ptolemy created an intellectual heritage that was not Islamic but universal. That it was written in Arabic was incidental. As one modern historian put it, "Baghdad became the intellectual battlefield upon which Roman law, Greek medicine and philosophy, Indian mysticism, Persian subtlety and the Semitic genius for religion could meet on common ground."

In Baghdad, hanin crosses eras. There's the hanin of history, and there's the hanin of memory. In the narratives of hanin of memory now familiar in Baghdad, the 1970s rival the era of the Abbasids as a time to recall with longing. Five-star hotels had begun to open, and restaurants did brisk business in a city that celebrated its libertine nightlife. Baghdad, in the eyes of many of its residents, was no different from any other Oz-like capital on the Persian Gulf, endowed with limitless oil and springing brashly from the desert with little logic; only this Oz had far more history than most. The newly resurgent Baghdad, modern and vital, drew Arab writers fleeing the anarchy of Lebanon's civil war. Egyptian intellectuals still recall the free plane tickets and ample Johnnie Walker Black that awaited them on sponsored trips to the Iraqi capital. The ferment of those years gave rise to the saying that "Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, and Baghdad reads."

Viewed through the lens of the wars that followed, the 1970s in the city have taken on a somewhat illusory glow of heroic progress and material comfort. Yet the economic gains at the time were real, and Iraq's living conditions neared those in Europe's more modest countries. Income from oil—Iraq has the world's second-largest reserves—skyrocketed. In 1968, oil revenues totaled $476 million. By 1980, they had reached $26 billion. That newfound wealth radiated Iraqi culture, influence, and power across the region. Baghdad rippled with optimism and confidence, and the country prospered. Food was subsidized, wages were hiked, and land was redistributed.

Money poured into health, housing, and education. Massive campaigns were launched to eradicate illiteracy. Free education, from kindergarten to university, was bestowed by law. Women's rights—from equal pay to an at least formal ban on discrimination—were ratified in Iraq's legal code. While crushing economic and social disparities persisted—and political repression deepened, especially against Shiite religious activists—most see the 1970s as a comparative golden age.

Copyright © 2005, 2006 by Anthony Shadid

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2005

    And this is how the people in Baghdad feel....

    Anthony Shadid is a brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has been covering the Iraq conflict since its beginning. And while much of his reportage of this tragically misguided effort on the part of the US to 'spread democracy around the globe' has either knowingly or unknowingly to us been from his pen (he writes for the Washington Post), here in this book he adds those elements of the war that have been either censored or edited so that at last we have an intelligent observer's report of what has happened. This is a story that will disturb and enlighten. Shadid divides his book NIGHT DRAWS NEAR: IRAQ'S PEOPLE IN THE SHADOW OF AMERICA'S WAR into five sections. In the first section he surfaces the anxious dread of a people under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. In the second he mirrors the people's terror of the attacks by the American troops with the bombings of precious places as well as homes. In the third section he addresses that part of calamity that follows calamity - the criminal looting and destruction of museums and mosques and public facilities that most Iraqis viewed with embarrassed disgust. The fourth section raises the curtain on the debased hopes of a people told they were being liberated while instead they were erratically captured, questioned, disenfranchised and were deprived of the basic amenities of living. The final section studies the insurgency, the terrifying extremes to which the Iraqis have embraced such as suicide bombings, retaliation, guerilla warfare - all of those ends to which these people have been thrust as a means to regain dignity and identity. Shadid has been there, has interviewed countless Iraqis, and has written a book that is jarring and shocking and insightful. What drives a man, woman or child to become a 'martyr'? Shadid talks with the families of these martyrs in an attempt to understand how these people have the courage to stand against the seemingly insurmountable odds of an army of Americans. This is a philosophy wholly foreign to us and it is well to remember that the writer is a Lebanese American, born in Oklahoma, fluent in Arabic and Arabic culture: Shadid is an informed reporter and writer and humanist. Though unfortunately America's War on Iraq is not over, this brilliantly written book should be required reading for all of us. It is only when we have both sides of the picture of a conflict that we can begin to analyze our country's position and hopefully urge a rapid end to the Iraq error, a mirror of the Vietnam error. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2013

    I MADE IT TO THE END!!!

    YA!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2005

    Iraq viewed on the receiving end of the war

    Embedded reporting showed the American victory in Iraq as a liberation. This book reveals the terror and frustration of being on the receiving end of an un asked for 'liberation.' The book is illuminating, but I can't say if it is fairly representitve. You don't get much sympathy for America expressed. I think Americans need to realize that Iraqis can love their country 'right or wrong', just as much as Americans love America. Iraqis resent foreigners fixing their country. This book expresses that feeling admirably.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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