A Stranger in Your Own City: Travels in the Middle East’s Long War

Books on Tape. Mar. 2023. 14:01 hrs. ISBN 9780593676905. $95. HIST
Award-winning correspondent Abdul-Ahad (Unembedded) grew up in war-torn Iraq. Abdul-Ahad trained as an architect but was conscripted into Saddam Hussein’s army; he soon deserted and lived underground for years. In 2003, he became a translator and then a stringer for an international news organization. In this guise, he was able to report on the impact of endless war on the country and its people. Abdul-Ahad tells his story with a low-pitched, lightly accented voice. He soberly describes the devastation wrought by Hussein’s authoritarian rule from 1979 to 2003, which brought countless Iraqi deaths and the destruction of homes, property, and infrastructure. During the war with Iran, daily mortar attacks resulted in more than half a million deaths, and after the 1991 invasion of Kuwait, UN sanctions caused the economy to collapse. Abdul-Ahad grimly notes that Saddam’s fall brought chaos and unrest, with corruption and warring factions further destabilizing the country. While the author’s observations are powerful in themselves, his narrative is most impactful when he poignantly describes the suffering and resilience of the Iraqi people.
VERDICT A bleak yet sensitively told account that effectively captures the human and social impact of war. Recommended for all nonfiction audio collections.
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