Thura Al-Windawi,
Thura's Diary:
My Life in Wartime Iraq

(Viking, 2004)

If you have wondered what it was like when Baghdad was being bombed in 2003, read Thura Al-Windawi's diary, translated for publication by Robin Bray. Thura, who was 19 when the war in Iraq broke out, provides a first-hand account into what it was like.

Thura was going to college, preparing to be a pharmacist, at the time. Her family, including two younger sisters, had lived in England while her father worked on his doctorate, and she learned English there. Their middle-class family had a car and air conditioning for their house; their life was good under Saddam Hussein's rule, although they did not support him.

When the war broke out in March 2003, the family decided to stay in Baghdad. Many bombs and missiles exploded or landed near their house and neighborhood, which was near one of Saddam's palaces. Thura and her parents tried to keep the younger daughters calm and safe, gathering in safe rooms away from the threat of shattering glass. They stocked up on food and other necessities, including insulin and needles for one of Thura's sisters. (The insulin had to be kept in a neighbor's house that had a refrigerator with a stronger power source than their generator.) Eventually, they joined their relatives in a village outside of Baghdad before the Americans took over the city.

While in the village, Thura learned what Iraq's old ways were like. She learned that women had to do a lot of the work and had to wear headscarves. She also learned that women were not allowed to be involved in decision-making. This turned out to be an introduction to Iraqi life after Saddam's fall or at least what some want life to be like in Iraq.

Thura and her family finally returned to Baghdad and found their home pretty much intact, although life was more chaotic. Still, there was hardly any water, food, electricity or law and order. Thura tells in her diary how Iraqi society began to change; Thura and her sisters were not too happy with some of the changes.

As you read the diary you will discover that life had not returned to normal when she closes it. One can watch the news and see that things have not returned to normal yet. There is still much violence and chaos going on there. Fortunately for Thura, she got an opportunity to leave Iraq and study in the United States. The University of Pennsylvania helps her with her education.

The diary is very well written and is very descriptive of what went on around her and and her family. Her thoughts and feelings are well expressed, providing an inside look from a civilian's point of view at what it was like to be in Baghdad during the Iraq War and afterwards.

- Rambles
written by Benet Exton
published 11 June 2005

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