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Dancing in the No-Fly Zone: A Woman's Journey Through Iraq

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Here is a unique perspective on Iraq, before and after the recent war. When Hadani Ditmars first went to Iraq in 1997 for the New York Times, she was shocked at what she saw. Six years of the worst sanctions ever inflicted on a modern nation had brought the people to their knees. Yet there was so much more to the "cradle of civilization" than misery and suffering. In the mi Here is a unique perspective on Iraq, before and after the recent war. When Hadani Ditmars first went to Iraq in 1997 for the New York Times, she was shocked at what she saw. Six years of the worst sanctions ever inflicted on a modern nation had brought the people to their knees. Yet there was so much more to the "cradle of civilization" than misery and suffering. In the midst of despair she found art, beauty, architecture, music. She discovered orchestras who played impassioned symphonies on wrecked instruments, playwrights who pushed the limits of censorship, artists who spent their last dinars on paint and canvas, families who still celebrated weddings by dancing to maqam--traditional love songs. Ditmars travelled to Iraq again and again, reporting on every aspect of life. In September 2003, she returned to Baghdad to find the people she had met over the years and see what had become of them since the U.S. "liberation." Dancing In The No-Fly Zone is the story of that trip, interwoven with tales from her earlier visits and of the people she met along the way: actors and artists, mercenaries and businessmen, street kids and sufis, even the "king in waiting." It includes a visit to Abu Ghraib prison, in which Ditmars is given a tour of the Saddam-era execution chamber by the U.S. general who was later dismissed after the abuse scandal broke. As the situation worsens and the violence intensifies, Ditmars spends a miraculous evening with a group of Iraqis who sing and dance along to a performance of makam. A people who have suffered so much yet maintain such resilience deserve to have the full depth of their humanity portrayed. Hadani Ditmars captures this spirit in Dancing in the No-Fly Zone. As Iraq continues to weather violent occupation, theocratic thuggism and civil strife, Ditmars' book serves as an eerily prescient tribute to a culture and a people at the breaking point.


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Here is a unique perspective on Iraq, before and after the recent war. When Hadani Ditmars first went to Iraq in 1997 for the New York Times, she was shocked at what she saw. Six years of the worst sanctions ever inflicted on a modern nation had brought the people to their knees. Yet there was so much more to the "cradle of civilization" than misery and suffering. In the mi Here is a unique perspective on Iraq, before and after the recent war. When Hadani Ditmars first went to Iraq in 1997 for the New York Times, she was shocked at what she saw. Six years of the worst sanctions ever inflicted on a modern nation had brought the people to their knees. Yet there was so much more to the "cradle of civilization" than misery and suffering. In the midst of despair she found art, beauty, architecture, music. She discovered orchestras who played impassioned symphonies on wrecked instruments, playwrights who pushed the limits of censorship, artists who spent their last dinars on paint and canvas, families who still celebrated weddings by dancing to maqam--traditional love songs. Ditmars travelled to Iraq again and again, reporting on every aspect of life. In September 2003, she returned to Baghdad to find the people she had met over the years and see what had become of them since the U.S. "liberation." Dancing In The No-Fly Zone is the story of that trip, interwoven with tales from her earlier visits and of the people she met along the way: actors and artists, mercenaries and businessmen, street kids and sufis, even the "king in waiting." It includes a visit to Abu Ghraib prison, in which Ditmars is given a tour of the Saddam-era execution chamber by the U.S. general who was later dismissed after the abuse scandal broke. As the situation worsens and the violence intensifies, Ditmars spends a miraculous evening with a group of Iraqis who sing and dance along to a performance of makam. A people who have suffered so much yet maintain such resilience deserve to have the full depth of their humanity portrayed. Hadani Ditmars captures this spirit in Dancing in the No-Fly Zone. As Iraq continues to weather violent occupation, theocratic thuggism and civil strife, Ditmars' book serves as an eerily prescient tribute to a culture and a people at the breaking point.

30 review for Dancing in the No-Fly Zone: A Woman's Journey Through Iraq

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lianne

    I enjoyed this memoir very much. Hadani Ditmars provides intimate glimpses into what was going on in Baghdad just after the invasion in September 2003. As a journalist, she had covered the city earlier for many reputable publications including the New York TImes, Vanity Fair, Toronto Globe and Mail, Time and Newsweek. She is exploring the possibility of establishing a humanitarian project called "The Garden of Peace." This idea also gives her a cover story so she can talk to a variety of people. I enjoyed this memoir very much. Hadani Ditmars provides intimate glimpses into what was going on in Baghdad just after the invasion in September 2003. As a journalist, she had covered the city earlier for many reputable publications including the New York TImes, Vanity Fair, Toronto Globe and Mail, Time and Newsweek. She is exploring the possibility of establishing a humanitarian project called "The Garden of Peace." This idea also gives her a cover story so she can talk to a variety of people. Using her previous local contacts she is able to probe the truth of "facts on the ground" while determining the feasibility of the project. (A project like this now exists in Beirut) As a Canadian, she can be much more honest about the American invasion and also more objective.The reality on the ground was beyond surreal for the locals and most agreed it was easier to live in Iraq with Saddam than with the provisional authority. As a woman of Middle Eastern ancestry who can function in Arabic, and wearing a hijab, Hadani is able to "pass" as a local and speak openly to merchants, artists and musicians as well as overlapping with the military and NGOs at her hotel. She is savvy enough about politics to understand and accept how her former minders quickly adapted to serving the occupying forces. The weirdest highlight of the book is a guided tour of Abu Ghraib prison by General Janis Karpinski who later was removed of her responsibility for the prison after the torture scandals. Hadani loves the Iraqi people. She celebrates their capacity "to dance in the no fly zone" against all odds and to affirm the triumph of their human spirit.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hadani

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-ent... Review by Boyd Tonkin, literary critic for the London Independent Dancing in the No-Fly Zone, by Hadani Ditmars (ARRIS BOOKS £9.99 (264pp)) Not just another batch of war stories, Ditmars' fine reports from Iraq reveal aspects of the country - both pre- and post-invasion - that the battlefield junkies overlook. From the comic actor who adores Mr Bean and the conductor who brings Berlioz to Baghdad to the artists and cabaret stars, she seeks out Iraq's dogged http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-ent... Review by Boyd Tonkin, literary critic for the London Independent Dancing in the No-Fly Zone, by Hadani Ditmars (ARRIS BOOKS £9.99 (264pp)) Not just another batch of war stories, Ditmars' fine reports from Iraq reveal aspects of the country - both pre- and post-invasion - that the battlefield junkies overlook. From the comic actor who adores Mr Bean and the conductor who brings Berlioz to Baghdad to the artists and cabaret stars, she seeks out Iraq's dogged creative spirits, and touches places in the nation's soul that horror- headlines never reach. BT

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tariq Mahmood

    The book is written by a journalist who has been to Iraq before and after the latest American invasion. For me she has managed to capture the difference between a sanction induced Iraq and a colonised era pretty well. The book left me with a dark and depressing mood with not much hope for humanity. The book is also written from a very Canadian perspective, an angle which I enjoyed as well.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    A surprisingly excellent account of the ravages of war in Iraq, this book, though its author's bias is clear, only falls into cliched reporting once or twice. Balancing the human, emotional tolls of war with the political and economic realities is not an easy job, but Ditmars discusses the personal, the socio-economic and the cultural with finesse. A wonderful book that everyone should read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Itisme

    1

  6. 5 out of 5

    Heather Miller

    I absolutely adore the prose used in this book. Hadani's connection to Iraq is expressed eloquently and intoxicatingly. Beautiful, informative, and tragic.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shirley J

    This was the first book I've read about what life in Iraq has been like for the past two decades. Would like to read one or two more books on the subject. Any recommendations?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Debi

    A very profound read on what happened to Iraq and its people after the war. This book truly gave me a new perspective on war and its effects on innocent civilians just trying to survive.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Tavukciyan

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maryanne Pribulka

  11. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Grout

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adam Nuchtern

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark Cameron

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hani

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joanna White

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  18. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  21. 4 out of 5

    Muhamad

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ursula

  24. 5 out of 5

    Iram

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gillian Jones

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jake

  27. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  29. 4 out of 5

    Francine

  30. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

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