Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

A Stranger in Your Own City
  • A Stranger in Your Own City

  • This is not a book about Iraq's history, nor an inventory of the many Middle Eastern wars that have spun out over the past twenty years, though both wars and history are part of its narrative, from the American invasion to the Arab Spring, ISIS and beyond. This is the story of a people who once lived under the rule of a megalomaniac leader who shaped the state in his own image. Then one day, after yet another war, a foreign army invaded, toppled the leader, destroyed the state, and proceeded to invent a new country. This is the story of a people who watched with horror as their world fragmented into a hundred different cities, as walls rose between them and bodies piled in the streets. It offers a remarkable de-centring of the West in the history and contemporary situation of the region - the motivation, needs and ideologies of Western powers are all dealt with sparingly, dismissively, even. What comes to the fore is the effect on the ground: the human cost, the shifting allegiances, and the generational change. The result is a rare work of great beauty and tragedy, whose power and relevance lies in the return of twenty years of war to those whose land it really is.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad was born in Iraq in 1975. He trained as an architect but was conscripted into Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army, which he deserted. Soon after the US-led coalition forces took control of Baghdad in April 2003, he began writing for the Guardian and the Washington Post. Reporting across the region for the past twenty years, across Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen, his travels have led him through the many sectarian divides and the long war in the Middle East, from interviewing war lords to infiltrating Al Qaeda, he has always put the concerns and experiences of civilians, caught up in conflicts, at the heart of his writing. He has won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (2005), the James Cameron Memorial Trust Award (2007), the British Press Awards' Foreign Reporter of the Year (2007), the Orwell Prize for Journalism (2014), and both the News & Documentary Emmy Awards for Best Story in a News Magazine as well as Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a News Magazine (2017). He currently lives in Istanbul.

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