A civilian view of life in Iraq
I had a misunderstanding about the book as I had thought reading the jacket that the author was returning to Iraq permanently. His story touches on a lot of different points so that one not familiar with Iraq could have a general idea of what is going on, but it didn’t seem much different than reports made by mainstream media.
The book starts off upon his return and how he had difficulty crossing the border, his first initial interaction with American troops where he questions “What made the solider abandon the beautiful beaches of America to come in this remote desert” (9), his surprise at a man being beaten by Islamic militants for asking for a beer and how the author believes one comes to be a religious extremist. As his nearly 3 month trip continues it seems he goes through a variety of emotions. At first nostalgia and awe at what his country has become, then a half-hearted desire to move back to Iraq and reclaim his old position (that changed quickly) and finally the expected desire to get out of the war zone that was his mother country and return to Australia.
For the reader not familiar with Iraq, its history and varying religions the book can become a bit heavy in spots and hard to follow especially when the author has the religious debates with his brother who is determined to get him to convert from Christianity to Islam and when he is describing geographic locations. The author attempts briefly to explain why the different groups, Shia, Sunni and Kurds all believe their actions are correct and the way of their God.
I think the book could have been a little bit longer maybe 100 pages as I did not feel it showed a broad scope of life for Iraqis at that time. I was expecting more of an insider’s point of view, but I guess the author could not really provide one due to his short time in the country and his number of years away. At some points in the book for example when he was trying to locate his house and sell it even I as never having set foot in Iraq shook my head and thought why bother that it would never happen? Reading between the lines I think the author has left several experiences during his time there out of the book. I would have liked it if he went into more detail about why he thought he should move back to Iraq. Other than that the book was ok.