In the United States, Americans do not stand united about the Iraq war. As protests slowly increase again, more soldiers either return home maimed or die while on duty. Meanwhile, the emotional, financial, and moral toll on families and friends deepens with each passing day. The reasons for entering Iraq are tainted with blood and political power plays too blurred with media hype and
too obscene to dismiss as acts of benevolence or national security.
Baghdad Burning I (August 2003-September 3004) is written by Riverbend, a ďfemale, Iraqi, and 24. [She] survived the war. Thatís all you need to know. Itís all that matters these days anyway.Ē She lives with her parents and brother. Throughout Baghdad Burning I, Riverbend writes entries, sometimes daily, sometimes much farther apart, describing various events such as kidnappings for ransom, hourly air strikes, block bombings, missing relatives, curfews and their ineffectiveness because no one goes out at night, lack of water and electricity, and, of course, her vivid description of the newly placed puppet government.
Along with Baghdadís war-torn environment, Riverbend also illustrates Iraqiís rich culture. She carefully explains Eid (Iraqi New Year)
- the preparation, displays, and traditions. Iraqis like many of their neighbors take pride in their cuisine. Riverbend begins a separate link of Iraqi recipes for her readers so they may give cooking this fine cuisine a whirl.
In Baghdad Burning II (Oct. 2004-March 2006), however, Riverbendís entries transform into more thematic topics. Her descriptions signify the urgency of her situation. The lack of electricity and water becomes worse. There is an increased frequency of kidnappings, more encounters between Shia and Sunni, and bombings dominate their lives now. Politically, the elections consume Riverbend as she reads the Constitution in Arabic and English, writing her commentary for the readers. She also discusses womenís issues, jailed journalists, and the destruction of Iraq up to this point in great detail. Riverbend includes facts, figures, and evidence to back up her theories as to why she believes the United States initially invaded Iraq.
This second book shows a deterioration in Baghdad. The simple traditions Iraqis enjoyed become scarce, if not impossible, to enjoy. They are under occupation,
the quality of life quickly diminishing in home, safety, work, and basic needs. Riverbend shares tragic anecdotes
from her neighborhood where human beings are at the mercy of chance and American troops.
Riverbendís blog is filled with acid, humorous, and often, sarcastic comments about her reality. She never ceases to find some humor in her surroundings;
though antagonistic against the Bush Administration, she manages to laugh. She also remains cool in her commentary about many world events and provides links in her book.
Whatever oneís view is on the Iraq war, whether still fixed or changed from the beginning, Baghdad Burning I
and Baghdad Burning II
are must-reads. The work gives a more honest view of what is happening inside a country the United States knew very little or nothing about before the invasion in 2003.
These books remind the reader to ask more questions and look farther than the United States. This is a real, unembellished, painful read,
a story that should not have been written, some say. I agree.