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Dreaming of Baghdad
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HAIFA ZANGANA was eight years old in 1958, when Iraqis flooded the streets to celebrate their newfound, hard-won freedom from the British colonial rule. She came of age in one of the most open societies in the Middle East—until it was shut down in the 1970s by the Ba'ath party. She was imprisoned for her opposition to Saddam Hussein, and since her release has been living in exile in London.

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Dreaming of Baghdad

Haifa Zangana

Translated by Paul Hammond & Haifa Zangana. Foreword by Hamid Dabashi. Afterword by Ferial J. Ghazoul.

In 1970s Iraq, the Ba'ath Party was at the height of its influence in the Middle East and popularity throughout the West. But a group of activists recognized the disastrous potential of the regime as its charismatic leader, Saddam Hussein, became more powerful. Haifa Zangana was among those resisters, a small group of whom were captured and imprisoned at Abu Ghraib.

From the distance of time and place, Zangana writes during her first years of forced exile from her beloved country about the time of her incarceration, the agonizing loss of comrades to torture and death in prison, the haunted quality of life so far away from home and family, and the ways in which memory conspires to make us forget what sometimes is most dear to us.

"Written with passion and commitment, Dreaming of Baghdad invoked my own dreams, and the joys and pain that memory can bring. A must read."

—Nawal al-Saadawi

"Haifa Zangana illuminates the dark realities of Saddam Hussein's Iraq while remembering what she misses from that complex place and time."

—Sharnush Parsipur, author of Women Without Men

"Haifa Zangana is the stuff of which legends are made—and how rare, how precious, how reassuring her voice is. . . . How poorer the world would have been without Haifa Zangana's courageous testimony. Drop anything you are reading and grab hold a copy of this magnificent book."

—Hamid Dabashi

"A poetic rendition of survival under the conditions of war and occupation, this inspiring and passionate memoir is a reminder of the inseparability of the personal and political, and the local and global."

—Shahrzad Mojab, co-editor of Violence in the Name of Honor: Theoretical and Political Challenges

"In this powerful narrative, Haifa Zangana weaves a rich tapestry that portrays the repression, torture, and resistance in Saddam's Iraq against a complex social landscape. A must read for anyone who wants to understand Iraq today."

—Jacqueline S. Ismael, co-editor of the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies

"Deftly sketched, simple and poetic, Dreaming of Baghdad drags politics down from the realm of the abstract into the mud, fear, and loneliness of personal experience and psychological ruin that is life under dictatorship. This is a landscape of clandestine struggle and crushing political defeat, of familiar old streets and the alienating structures of exile. Zangana's story is heartbreaking, but her clarity and resilience inspire awe."

The Nation

"Haifa Zangana proves once again that the act of writing can be truly liberating."

—Dalia Said Mostafa, research fellow, The University of Manchester

If you are interested in what goes on beneath the burka in the minds of Iraqis struggling to sustain personal equilibrium amidst decades-long oppression, then I think you can add this book to your list of tomes that might help in accumulating a body of understanding for a distant society—if not for another distanced human being.

—Internet Review of Books

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