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« Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog From Iraq, by Riverbend | Main | The State of Working America, 2006 / 2007, by Mishel, Bernstein and Allegretto »


Baghdad Burning II: Girl Blog From Iraq, by Riverbend

By an everyday book reader
October 1, 2007

Riverbend, the Iraqi blogger who received the Ulysses Prize for literary reportage, continues her dispatches from her native Baghdad. Embedded journalism at its most compelling, her blog recounts the major events of the occupation and the insurgency since October 2004, as well as her and her family's daily struggles.

In this hard-hitting journal, she describes the day-to-day realities of life in post-war Iraq, which for her family and neighbors means regular power-cuts, bombings, kidnappings and night-time raids by US soldiers. Including diary entries covering the release of the torture pictures of Abu Ghraib and Bush's State of the Union Speech as well as a more critical analysis of key players during the war and in its aftermath, Baghdad Burning offers a highly personal narrative on life since the US occupation that is at once disturbing and insightful.

Baghdad Burning II: Girl Blog From Iraq
by RiverbendBook Picture

Softcover: 190 pages
ISBN: 9781558615298, 1558615296
Feminist Press
September 2006

"For Sale: A fertile, wealthy country with a population of around 25 million...plus around 150,000 foreign troops, and a handful of puppets. Conditions of sale: should be either an American or British corporation. Please contact one of the members of the Governing Council in Baghdad, Iraq, for more information."

In her riveting weblog, a remarkable young Iraqi woman gives a human face to war and occupation. On the 24th of September, 2003, the above entry was posted onto a weblog by an anonymous 25 year old female using the pseudonym 'Riverbend'.

The distinctive voice of pseudonymous Riverbend shines through this continuation of her blog, from October 2004 through March 2006 (2005's Baghdad Burning won a Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Literary Reportage). Now 27, she offers an invaluable description of life in a middle-class, secular, mixed Shia-Sunni family. Alternating reports of attacks seen on TV and raids in her neighborhood with the mundane details of fuel shortages and infrequent electricity and water, Riverbend also offers astute analysis of the Iraqi draft constitution and American media, widely available through Iraqi TV and the Internet (her suggestion for a reality show: "Take 15 Bush supporters and throw them in a house in Fallujah"). She emphasizes how gender has become an issue when it never was before, e.g., election forms are all stamped "male." Riverbend's dry wit leavens her anger: after watching the 2006 Oscar ceremonies on TV, she proposes Iraqi Oscars ("Ahmed Al-Chalabi in 'Disappearing Act' for his magnificent evaporation from the Iraqi political scene"). Throughout, the blog insists that most Iraqis are tolerant; prefer secular to religious government; fear civil war; and vehemently want the occupation to end. - Publishers Weekly

Interweaving commentary on major events since October 2004, with compelling stories about her own life as well as her family's daily struggles, this is journalism from ground zero recording both occupation and insurgency. The postings include:

  • An "open letter to Americans" before the 2004 election begging them to consider what a second Bush term will mean for Iraq.
  • The irony of living in an oil-rich country with a desperate fuel shortage: Riverbend waits with her brother in long lines before the gas pump and then goes home to siphon out the fuel for the neighborhood generator.
  • A description of the plight of young women in an increasingly Islamist Iraq: "The problem with defiance (not going out in public fully covered) is that it doesn't just involve you personally, it involves anyone with you at that moment--usually a male relative. It means that there might be an exchange of ugly words or a fight and probably, after that, a detention in Abu Ghraib."
  • The kidnapping of Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll; with a moving tribute to Carroll's guide and translator, a well-known person in the neighborhood who was murdered on the spot by the kidnappers.

"[Riverbend's] writing is crisp and lucid, a style one would expect from an educated cosmopolitan woman...and as such it is both personal and political...Riverbend translates the sterile language of policymakers into the flesh and blood reality of fearful citizens....We need to read Riverbend..." - Rachelle Linner, National Catholic Reporter

Riverbend was educated at Baghdad University and worked for a large computer company in Baghdad before the war. With thousands of loyal readers worldwide, the Riverbend blog is recognized around the world as a crucial source of information not available through the mainstream media. She continues to update her journal and she prefers to remain anonymous. You may also be interested in her companion title to this one - the first book, Baghdad Burning I.

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In her riveting weblog, a remarkable young Iraqi woman gives a human face to war and occupation. 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 c... [Read More]

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