Road To Damascus

Road To Damascus

by Elaine Rippey Imady

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781933455136
Publisher: MSI Press
Publication date: 03/02/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 290
Product dimensions: 0.61(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

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Road To Damascus 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
E-E-Whiting More than 1 year ago
In the mid-1950s, young American women were on the borderland of change. Ahead lay the upheaval of the women's movement and behind lay the landscape of their mothers. Girls were encouraged to get an education at moderate cost and a husband at all cost. Into this mix came Elaine Rippey, already somewhat of an activist and a student at New York University in 1955. She arrived from Palisades, NY for an education and within a short time left with an unlikely husband and a future no one would have anticipated. Her autobiography of the first years of her marriage to Mohammed Imady, former Minister of Economy for the Syrian Arab Republic who now serves his country as Chairman of the Syrian Commission on Financial Markets and Securites, is a sharp-eyed look into the delights and detours of being a foreign wife in a country that most of her family and friends had never heard of. Even today, few Americans know Syria as anything other than a place too close to the Axis of Evil. This memoir takes a long and loving look at the real Syria which became over time Elaine's home. She weaves her own tale into stories of her husband's family, a family that dates to the early 1500s. She recounts her introduction to a world of customs and rules so vastly different from those of mid-20th century New York with warmth and love. I personally sympathized with her "surprize" at the facilities, or lack thereof. Somethings never change. She tells the history of this ancient land through the stories told to her by her husband's mother, his siblings and assorted family members. These tales were a way for her to learn about the religion, the politics, the social structure of her new home. And they are an enlightening way for the reader to learn the history of this little-known country from the perspective of those who lived it. Mrs. Imady does not shy from addressing head on all the cultural differences and speaks clearly about her choices as she raised her three children. While other foreign wives of Syrian men struggled to find a life in such a different world, she adapted, considered, accepted and rejected customs that were strange to her at first. Many dear friends returned home. She chose to stay and we now benefit from her forthright and affectionate look back. Mrs. Imady's position as the wife of a cabinet minister afforded her an unrivaled perspective. Her life was not that of a cosseted, sheltered "little woman", kept in the background and blissfully ignorant of the history being made around her. While not inflamatory or sensational, she is not coy about describing her experiences. Her description of the bombardment by Isreal on residential areas near her home in October of 1973 is the tale of all women who see war come to them while they and their children look on. This is a work to stimulate conversation. Her book is lively and an eye opening opportunity for anyone who is genuinely interested in knowing about another culture from the inside out. She provides an opportunity for correcting many misconceptions that Westerners have of a little known region. It is a must read for anyone interested in knowing both sides of the story.
nobooksnolife on LibraryThing 17 days ago
In Road to Damascus, author Elaine Rippey Imady shares her personal memoir of her first thirteen years in Syria, beginning as a newlywed in 1960 and ending with events of the 1973 war between Syria and Israel. Her Prologue and Epilogue, written in 2007, briefly set this book in the context of current affairs; however, this is first and foremost an apolitical, straightforward account of romantic love, cross-cultural marriage, and life as foreign wife and mother in a society very different from the New York of her upbringing.Imady's story feels very close to my own "foreign wife" experience, although my arena is East Asia rather than the Middle East. Raising a family wholeheartedly in two cultures often means not feeling completely comfortable in either, and one is often caught between longing for the other culture and the joy of discovery in the present culture. Imady describes these mixed feelings beautifully and never fails to indicate how much richer life is for her and her family as a result of crossing cultures. Her husband, Mohammed Imady, comes from proud family with over 600 years of history in Damascus. Elaine and Mohammed met and married (secretly at first) when they were at university in New York City. This book is rich with psychological insights in to Mohammed's extended family, male/female relationships and role expectations, generational change, and religious views (Imady converts to Islam from her Protestant background). Descriptions of geography, food preparation, family outings, and a handy glossary round out this gentle first-hand account of life in Damascus.I enjoyed this book very much for what it is¿honest and straightforward¿somewhat like a personal diary; however, I hope the Prologue and Epilogue indicate a possibility that the author will write about her experiences from 1973 to the Present, perhaps centered on a biography of her devoted, far-sighted husband and his extraordinary career?Road to Damascus would most appeal to those who would like to have a sense of daily life in a country easily ignored in the west, and to gain a more nuanced understanding of the struggle for balanced Arab governance within Syria and of the Arab-Israeli disputed territories.Many thanks to MSI Press and LibraryThing's Early Reviewers for this advance reading copy.
brochettes on LibraryThing 17 days ago
A gentle, if slightly rambling recollection of life as a foreign wife in mid-20th century Damascus.This is the memoir of Elaine Rippey Imady, who married a Syrian student she met at University in New York in the 1950s, and ended up accompanying her husband back to Damascus at the end of his studies to settle there. What I really liked about this book is that it shows a positive side of life in an Arab family and avoids the usual clichés of subjugated wives and violently domineering husbands, while still dealing fairly realistically with issues such as culture shock and life in a country with a political and system different from our own.It would be easy to accuse the author of looking at the past through rose tinted glasses, and I am sure this is true to a certain extent, but I feel that while it is clear that the author is happy with her lot on the whole, she doesn¿t brush the negative sides of life in Damascus under the carpet.The author weaves in and out of a fairly linear account of her life from meeting her husband in NY in the fifties to being an established minister¿s wife and mother in Damascus in the seventies by inserting anecdotes of her husband¿s family¿s history. I found this a little distracting, and probably would have preferred that part to be dealt with in a separate chapter, but I guess that is down to personal preference and not really a major issue with the book.One thing I found remarkable is how little appears to have changed, and how well I could relate this to my own experience of marrying into an Arab family, despite the fact that it took place about forty years later and a few thousand miles to the west in Morocco. I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed the book: the sheer amount of times I nodded in agreement or recognition made me feel quite nostalgic about my own experiences, which were also, on the whole, positive.I of course do not dispute that other women¿s negative experiences with marrying into an Arab family are valid- I know quite a few women for whom the whole thing has been a complete and utter nightmare- but I am glad that there is a book which balances things out a little. Of course, the family described in the book comes from a fairly privileged background, and there were times when I found the author a little too accepting of things (and had to remind myself that this did in fact happen 50-odd years ago), but it is clear throughout the book that this is far from a fairy-tale romance.People who are looking for another sensationalist account of female Martyrdom in the Arab world will be disappointed in this book. People looking for a well- balanced view of everyday life in an Arab family could do a lot worse.
labfs39 on LibraryThing 17 days ago
The author's journey from a young American college student to the wife of a senior Syrian government officer should have been a fascinating story, and perhaps it would have been if it had been ghostwritten. All the drama was there--the culture shock of a new wife and mother living in Damascus, the government upheavals, the family dramas--yet as a reader I remained unengaged and had a hard time finishing the book. I think a more vivacious and colorful style would have made all the difference. As it is, I found the history of Damascus and the Imady family, interwoven among the family anecdotes, to be interesting and a nice technique, but overall the descriptions of both Syria and the author's life were too monotone to maintain my interest. I also found her unthinking adoption of anti-Israel rhetoric to be a bit disconcerting. I would have liked more insight into her thought process as she watched her relatives cheer the deaths of Israeli soldiers on tv.
juliette07 on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This memoir tells of the life of a young American from New York who moved to Damascus in Syria after having fallen in love with her husband to be Mohammed at University. The life of an immigrant living with her extended family is honest and touching. We read much about the family of her husband, the customs, the conflicts of the 1960s and 70s and her life as the wife of a cabinet minister.Whilst this was not a gripping story it gave an insight into life as an immigrant and there was much to admire. The love with which it was written is evident and in places moving but I would have loved to have become more involved with some of her thoughts and reflections upon events ¿ as it was I was left wanting.
60GoingOn16 on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This should have been a fascinating memoir: young American undergraduate student meets Syrian postgraduate student in New York university library in the 1950s. They fall in love, marry, and have their first child in the US and then move to Syria . . .Having studied Arabic and travelled in the Middle East, I was hoping to enjoy this account of an adult lifetime spent in a country and within a culture that were so different, in so many ways, from those of the author's childhood. But it was a slow read and, had this not been a review copy, I probably would not have continued to the final pages.To be fair, the substance is interesting but is not best served by the style, which is rather plodding and repetitive, especially towards the end of the book, where the author appears to be running out of steam. Moreover given the number of typos, I assumed that this must have been an unchecked proof copy. (Wrong.) And why is it designed and typeset like an old-fashioned textbook?A lighter touch, a willingness to be ruthless about the overuse of adverbs and adjectives (and any hint of smugness) and less reliance on exclamation marks would have helped. Had this been an entirely private memoir, intended only for the family, these would have been minor considerations and the family members are probably proud and delighted to have this very detailed account of a particular time in their recent history. However, if you put a book into the public domain, you need to consider your audience more carefully; this is where a sensitive but firm editor can make such a difference. A sub-editor would have been useful too, to iron out all those typographical errors and a good designer could have transformed the appearance of this book.As it happens, I was reading Shappi Khorsandi's A Beginner's Guide to Acting English at the same time; it makes a useful comparison, albeit in reverse. Iranian-born Khorsandi arrived in the UK as a small girl in the 1970s. She and her family were refugees who needed to move as far away as possible from the reach of Ayatollah Khomeini and those who served him, in the wake of Iran's Islamic revolution. Like Rippey Imady, Khorsandi intersperses her narrative with the history of grandparents and other family members, as well as references to her country's changing political and religious landscape. But there the similarities end. Khorsandi's writing is wild and funny and has the pulse and immediacy lacking in Rippey Imady's. Road to Damascus is, sadly, something of a lost opportunity.
lizaandpaul on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This book gives the reader a great picture of Syria in the 1960s and is a great antidote to all the 'western women escaping horrible arab marriages' genre which seems to be a growing subcategory of literature. Through stories of her own marriage as a naive American student to a Syrian, and stories of his family history Elaine Rippey Imady gives an affectionate account and demonstrates how tolerance can enrich lives. Whilst the writing is sometimes a bit pedestrian this book is well worth reading, and contributes to an understanding of the situation in the middle east today.
LyzzyBee on LibraryThing 17 days ago
03 June 2009 - LibraryThing Early Reviewers programmeUnlike some books I have had from ER recently, this was what it promised. Well, and a bit more too, actually.Basically the story of small-town American Elaine, living in New York, who met Mohammed at University in the 1950s, fell for him there and then, married him and moved to Damascus in Syria to live in an apartment block with his extended family. The story covers the first fifteen or so years in detail, including both the good and bad aspects of expatriate life in a very different community. Elaine is fortunate in her extended family, who welcome her with open arms and take great pains to help her settle in, guiding her gently rather than criticising, making allowances and providing her with a lot of emotional and practical support. While she gains a lot from her non-Syrian friends, her "support group", she grows to identify very closely with her family too. A lot of this is to do with the kind of person she seems to be - embracing Islam, learning Arabic and the local dialect, keeping her loves such as reading while bending into the ways of the family. She, and we, find this behaviour vindicated when she is accepted as a natural member of the family at a funeral. Interestingly, she also draws closer to her own sisters.It's not all autobiographical and what I tag "immigrant experience" though. Where this book gains a lot is in the chapters interspersed through the book, where Elaine faithfully records the stories of her husband's family and, as a result, the history of Syria in the 20th century. These parts are told very well, using different idioms and styles which are evocative of the different people who told her the tales. I learnt a lot about Syrian history through these sections, and the history she recounts finds uneasy echoes in the experiences the family goes through during the conflicts of the 1960s and 70s.Unsparing of the more difficult aspect of life in Syria, but ultimately positive and celebratory, this is both an excellent example of the Immigrant Abroad narrative, and a good introduction to the history of the area.
audramelissa on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This is a pleasant memoir about a Western woman¿s life married to a Syrian man and living in the Middle East. I appreciated the mainly positive accounts and stories about life in Syria and the personal histories the author presents for the reader. Favorable depictions of Middle Easterners and Muslims are few in popular literature however, I found little in Imady¿s writing to hold or grip me to her story. There is a genuine love and caring in her story but I simply could not care very much. I feel that if she had written some of this book earlier in her life and closer to when some of the events had happened there would have more life and passion to her writing.
BookReviewsByDebra More than 1 year ago
Elaine Rippey grew up in a small town in New York. She was like most teens in the 1950s. Then something unique happened to her. She married Mohammed Imady, a Muslim from Syria. Her love for her husband brought many sacrifices to her life. She left all she knew to live in a Middle Eastern culture. She embraced the Muslim religion and lifestyle. Elaine was successful in her marriage and new land because she "opened her heart to every new experience in her adopted land, and accepted the differences with good humor and considerable grace." I found Elaine's story fascinating. When I first began reading I had visions of unhappiness and a failed marriage. I could not have been farther from the truth. This is a love story. This is also a lesson in maturity and growth. She shares the history of the Imady family. She creatively weaves the stories of the past and of her circumstances. I smiled at many of the stories some out of a sense of pleasure and some because I found them humorous. It needs to be remembered that she lived the life of the wife of a cabinet member not the typical life of a closeted female. I enjoyed Road to Damascus. It gives a different perspective on the people of Syria.