Thura's Diary: My Life in Wartime Iraq

Overview

Nineteen-year-old Thura al-Windawi kept a diary during the conflict in Iraq, saying that it was her way of “controlling the chaos.” The diary, which documents the days leading up to the bombings, the war itself, and the lawless aftermath, puts a personal face on life in Baghdad. As Thura describes her life and that of her two younger sisters, she shows readers the many small details that illuminate the reality of war for Iraqi families, and especially for Iraqi children.

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Overview

Nineteen-year-old Thura al-Windawi kept a diary during the conflict in Iraq, saying that it was her way of “controlling the chaos.” The diary, which documents the days leading up to the bombings, the war itself, and the lawless aftermath, puts a personal face on life in Baghdad. As Thura describes her life and that of her two younger sisters, she shows readers the many small details that illuminate the reality of war for Iraqi families, and especially for Iraqi children.

Reminiscent of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and the recent national bestseller Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo, Thura's Diary gives the perspective of a young woman caught in the midst of a turbulent time and puts a face, a name, and a voice to the word “Iraqi.”

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
In a moving, thought-provoking diary translated from Arabic, a 19-year-old Iraqi, Thura Al-Windawi, records her experiences of the 2003 war in her country, from the first rumblings of invasion to the eventual capture of Saddam Hussein. Writing in powerfully heartfelt and often confused words about the devastation that war brings to her personal life and to Iraq, Al-Windawi begins her diary on March 15, 2003, as she and her family drive past the local passport office, seeing lines of people "trying to run from this hell." From there, almost daily amid the conflict, the author chronicles events she sees around her and on the news, including the "first day of Shock and Awe," which she compares to 9/11, and the toppling of the biggest statue of Saddam Hussein on April 9th. She also describes the recognition she eventually receives when part of her diary gets published in The Times of London. Along with a 2003 timeline, a list of people and places, and an eight-page color photo insert, the book also includes an afterword about the death of Hussein's sons and a postscript -- dated December 14, 2003 -- in which the young author expresses her emotions on learning of Saddam’s capture: "He just gave up. Was this the man who had been telling us to fight to the death?"

A work of historical importance that invites comparison to The Diary of Anne Frank or Zlata's Diary, Al-Windawi’s journal is a powerful, evenhanded indictment of war that criticizes the U.S. use of force ("the Americans are coming, wreaking havoc.... They won't think twice about using every kind of weapon they've got....") as well as the tactics of Iraq’s former dictator ("Saddam's had control of the entire state budget...paying whatever he likes to whoever he likes, however he likes"). Thura's Diary provides a remarkable first-hand commentary on the devastating effects of war on average people caught in the crossfire. Matt Warner

Children's Literature
As the author writes in the postscript of this book, ". . . the reason I wrote the diary. I wanted to try to bring about a greater understanding of my country and to show what Iraqis are really like. I wanted people to know what it's like for children to have no hope. . . I wanted them to know what it is like to have to flee from home. . . I wanted to make the Americans and the British understand that we are not their enemies. We just need some security and the chance to lead normal lives." This is an incredibly timely book on the effects of the Iraqi war on average Iraqis, especially in light of the political turmoil that continues in that country. Thura's diary, which shows clearly the plight of the average person and family during the American and British bombardment, should be a "must-read" for American schoolchildren. Like The Diary of Anne Frank and Zlata's Diary, this text humanizes a situation with which most children have no first-hand experience. Definitely a needed addition to any library; in addition, teachers could easily use this book with the two mentioned earlier as well as any first-hand accounts of "teens of war situations" in literature circles to further enhance student empathy and understanding of the terrible toll of war on humanity. 2004, Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 12 to 18.
—Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-The strength of this diary is in its matter-of-fact delivery. The author, now a scholarship student at an American university, writes of her daily life in war-besieged Baghdad. She describes the events just prior to the U.S. and Britain's "shock & awe" attack on Iraq. Her family braces for the imminent onslaught, the tension growing. From worrying about who will take care of the dogs when the family evacuates to finding enough insulin for her diabetic sister, she shows what it's like to live with war. Al-Windawi describes wearing a mask to filter air tainted by the noxious fumes from oil fires around the city and from the dust that the bombs and sandstorms stir up. She writes about the rumbling approach of B52's and the barrage of bombs that makes her house shudder. Interspersed are the refreshing dreams and goals of a bright and self-motivated young woman. Perhaps some of the emotion has been distilled through translation, as Thura seems removed from the action, panning through the terror to present the facts. Perhaps it's self-preservation. Political sentiments occasionally poke through, but the focus is on explicitly and calmly exposing the ravages of war on the vulnerable members of society. A postscript describes the author's reaction to the capture of Saddam Hussein.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670058860
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/8/2004
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 0.78 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2005

    Awesome

    This book is outstanding! It is nice to see what it is like to live in Iraq during the war. It goes behind the T.V. reports and the broadcasts, just like other people have said in there reviews. Thura is a nice young lady, very descripitive, and she is describing what it's like to be surronded by violence. She is like another Anne Frank. Read this book, even if you don't think you'll like it. You won't be disapointed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2004

    AN EYE OPENER!

    This book is a must read for everybody. I don't care if you are 10 or 110, READ THIS BOOK! It teaches you what it is like to be an Iraqi during the war behind the headlines. It teaches about the reasons Iraqis behave the way they do. It teaches the truth. A great book for discussion!

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