This book by The Wall Street Journal’s valiant Middle East correspondent, Farnaz Fassihi, is long overdue. The story of the disenchanted middle-class, working people of Iraq, was one waiting to be told - about what is happening now that the war is supposedly over. Iraqis must get used to the defeat of Saddam Hussein and the ramifications for them as a people and a country. Photos and articles have been written since 2003, when the U.S. entered into this controversial war. Battles, heroes, villains, soldiers, bodies - all have been documented. However, it took Fassihi to spend the time to tell the story that needed to be told. This is the group of people who, for all practical purposes, are the future of Iraq.
This significant account relates how everyday people, from taxi drivers to students, from artists and businessmen to teachers and parents, went from great hopes to merely trying to survive to see what a “normal” life might look like following the war. Living among these citizens throughout the war, Fassihi interviewed many of these basically abandoned people to see where their lives are headed. We watch two opposing religious groups as they try to find their place in this new world where they can both exist - if at all possible - in harmony.
With her ancestors being from Iran, Fassihi understands more than others might and is able to speak to those in power, those fighting, and most importantly, those just trying to get through each day. The conflict has made everyday citizens some of the true heroes of this war. Contrasting the ways in which these people live with what it would be like for Americans in any big city in our country makes one uncomfortable at how ordinary Iraqis are treated, what they went through, and what they continue to experience.
Fassihi’s story is bound to be controversial; many wish that this kind of story could be swept under a rug. Read and absorb to understand how important it really is that people everywhere know what happened in Iraq to the people who matter most: to those who will build and persevere long after troops, politicians, reporters, and the world’s attention is on to another place, another war.