Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog From Iraq Review

Baghdad BurningTitle: Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog From Iraq

Author: Riverbend

Pages: 286

Format: Paperback

Finished: 3/25/13

Source: Bough on Amazon

ISBN: 9781558614895

 

Excerpt from Goodreads:

 

In August 2003, the world gained access to a remarkable new voice: a blog written by a 25-year-old Iraqi woman living in Baghdad, whose identity remained concealed for her own protection. Calling herself Riverbend, she offered searing eyewitness accounts of the everyday realities on the ground, punctuated by astute analysis on the politics behind these events.

In a voice in turn eloquent, angry, reflective and darkly comic, Riverbend recounts stories of life in an occupied city—of neighbors whose homes are raided by US troops, whose relatives disappear into prisons and whose children are kidnapped by money-hungry militias. At times, the tragic blends into the absurd, as she tells of her family jumping out of bed to wash clothes and send e-mails in the middle of the night when the electricity is briefly restored, or of their quest to bury an elderly aunt when the mosques are all overbooked for wakes and the cemeteries are all full. The only Iraqi blogger writing from a woman’s perspective, she also describes a once-secular city where women are now afraid to leave their homes without head covering and a male escort.

Interspersed with these vivid snapshots from daily life are Riverbend’s analyses of everything from the elusive workings of the Iraqi Governing Council to the torture in Abu Ghraib, from the coverage provided by American media and by Al-Jazeera to Bush’s State of the Union speech. Here again, she focuses especially on the fate of women, whose rights and freedoms have fallen victim to rising fundamentalisms in a chaotic postwar society.

With thousands of loyal readers worldwide, the Riverbend blog is widely recognized around the world as a crucial source of information not available through the mainstream media. The book version of this blog will have “value-added” features: an introduction and timeline of events by veteran journalist James Ridgeway, excerpts from Riverbend’s links and an epilogue by Riverbend herself.

*I was required to read this book for my Literature and War class.

Initial Thoughts:

I was really excited to being this book because it is a compilation of blogs from a girl who was living in Baghdad in 2003-2004. As a blogger myself, I thought it would be interesting to see a different bloggers perspective, especially in these circumstances. Obviously our blogs are not in any way similar. I write about (mostly) young adult novels and she is writing about her experiences and life during a war, but I still thought there might be some parallel solely from the blogging point of view.

 Conclusion:

Normally with my reviews, I have a spoiler section, but if people haven’t read the book they normally skip over it. I decided for this review to write most of my thoughts in the conclusion, in the hopes that more people would read it.

I did not enjoy this book. The writing was great, she is a very witty and intelligent girl, but that was also a problem. The extent of my knowledge on the Iraq war or Operation Iraqi freedom is as follows: Someone attacked the World Trade Centers and a few other choice locations in the U.S. and we went to war in the Middle East. I didn’t know where, I didn’t know who we were fighting or even why, so reading this book and trying to understand the politics of it all was extremely difficult and frustrating.

Riverbend is a very smart girl and her whole life is immersed in the politics of what is happening in Iraq during this time period. She is much more educated than I am in this subject and most of her arguments went right over my head. I struggled to see past my ignorance and prejudices, but this book did make me think.

Although I didn’t understand a vast majority, or pretty much all of the books contents, on a human level I could sympathize with her situation. In its most basic form, this book depicts a girl and her family dealing with horrific circumstances of a war that is taking place literally in her front and back yard. Even when I didn’t understand what she was talking about politically, I could still appreciate her opinions and the points that she made.

I took this Literature and War class for this very reason. I am so blissfully ignorant as to what is going on in the world. I was pretty young when September 11, 2001 occurred, and I feel like I’m too far behind to ever be able to catch up with what has happened over the past twelve years. I took this class hoping that it would open up my eyes to the world around me, and in many ways it has done that. I am aware of different cultures, war strategies, the many varying effects of war on the people, the land, and the government. However, I wouldn’t say that I understand any of these things, I’m simply more aware of them.

I would recommend this book to someone who has more than just basic background information on what has happened in Iraq. Can you read this book without doing any research? Sure you can. I struggled with keeping track of political leaders and corporations and I wasn’t able to form my own opinions on the matter because I’m too ill informed, but it did open my eyes, and that is the first step.

Rating:

disappointed, didn't live up to the hype. two nerd glasses

 

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