Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos

Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos

by Manal Omar
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Overview

Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos by Manal Omar

"Walk barefoot and the thorns will hurt you…" —Iraqi-Turkmen proverb

A riveting story of hope and despair, of elation and longing, Barefoot in Baghdad takes you to the front lines of a different kind of battle, where the unsung freedom fighters are strong, vibrant—and female.

An American aid worker of Arab descent, Manal Omar moves to Iraq to help as many women as she can rebuild their lives. She quickly finds herself drawn into the saga of a people determined to rise from the ashes of war and sanctions and rebuild their lives in the face of crushing chaos. This is a chronicle of Omar's friendships with several Iraqis whose lives are crumbling before her eyes. It is a tale of love, as her relationship with one Iraqi man intensifies in a country in turmoil. And it is the heartrending stories of the women of Iraq, as they grapple with what it means to be female in a homeland you no longer recognize.

"Manal Omar captures the complex reality of living and working in war-torn Iraq, a reality that tells the story of love and hope in the midst of bombs and explosions."—Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, and author (with Laurie Becklund) of the national bestselling book Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam

"A fascinating, honest, and inspiring portrait of a women's rights activist in Iraq, struggling to help local women while exploring her own identity. Manal Omar is a skilled guide into Iraq, as she understands the region, speaks Arabic, and wears the veil. At turns funny and tragic, she carries a powerful message for women, and delivers it through beautiful storytelling."—Christina Asquith, author of Sisters in War: A Story of Love, Family and Survival in the New Iraq

"At turns funny and tragic…a powerful message for women, [delivered] through beautiful storytelling."—Christina Asquith, author of Sisters in War

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402256943
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 08/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 80,556
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Manal Omar has worked with Women for Women International, a nonprofit NGO, as Regional Coordinator for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. Formerly a journalist, she began work in Iraq in 1997 and 1998 for UNESCO, and worked for OxFam in the Middle East. Currently, she is the Program Officer for the Iraq Grants Program with the United States Institute of Peace, based in Washington, D.C.
Manal Omar has worked with Women for Women International, a nonprofit NGO, as Regional Coordinator for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. Formerly a journalist, she began work in Iraq in 1997 and 1998 for UNESCO, and worked for OxFam in the Middle East. Currently, she is the Program Officer for the Iraq Grants Program with the United States Institute of Peace, based in Washington, D.C.

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Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
ProReviewing More than 1 year ago
Despite her family's opposition to Omar's assuming the position of country director in Iraq with Women for Women International, a group that helped female survivors of war to rebuild their lives, she quickly took up the reins of such a position, proving her worth in her many encounters with those women whom she helped free from a life of degradation and fear. The dichotomy of her status, as both Arab and American, born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian parents and raised in the American South, as a Muslim and a woman, she was in an ideal position to negotiate the hazardous and diverse microcosm of Iraq, still trying to recover from the ravages of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. In this moving memoir, she describes how she was among the first international aid workers to arrive in Baghdad in 2003. Barefoot in Baghdad tells of the two years that she spent working with Iraqi women as they struggled to create a new nation and a new identity for themselves. Omar describes her daily battle to overcome prejudices in the society, which were present in many forms. She not only had to suppress her own misgivings about having to work sometimes in close conjunction with the US-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority, but also to persuade her Iraqi colleagues of the integrity of her intent. She asks a telling question at the outset of the memoir: "Who was better equipped to adapt within a country experiencing a period of tumultuous change than someone who had been raised with an ever-shifting identity?" The redemptive nature of this tale, both on a personal and broader societal front, conveys a central message of hope overcoming what might so easily have been a position of despair. The uplifting and youthful approach which Omar takes to her subject matter is as captivating in the fluency and ease of her writing as it is in the way in which she is able to navigate her position among the many diverse segments of Iraqi society. No matter whether you view the US occupation of Iraq as unwarranted or as totally justifiable in terms of their acting as a liberation force, Barefoot in Baghdad should be of interest to you. Giving both an insider's and an outsider's view of the unfolding drama of Iraq, the memoir should prove worthwhile reading for anyone who has a keen interest in developments in the Middle East.
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Slow in the beginning but picks up towards the middle/end. Interesting subject.