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From Barnes & NobleThe 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