A Hundred And One Days

by Asne Seierstad | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 1844081400 Global Overview for this book
Registered by keithpp of Farnborough, Hampshire United Kingdom on 11/1/2007
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Journal Entry 1 by keithpp from Farnborough, Hampshire United Kingdom on Thursday, November 01, 2007
'This book is about a journey, a war and some of the people caught up in the war. For a hundred and one days, from January to April 2003, I tried to record what I experienced in Baghdad.' -- Asne Seierstad

In January 2003, Asne Seierstad entered Baghdad on a ten day visa. She was to stay for one hundred and one days. She was there before, during and after the attacks on Iraq.

As she herself has the honesty to admit, hers is a personal account of what she saw in Baghdad, but at least she was there on the ground, which is more than can be said for the many journalists who report from Iraq holed up in the Green Zone, never venturing out into the streets to see with their own eyes.

In the days leading up to war, Asne Seierstad paints a picture of all embracing fear. Less a fear of the Americans and the forthcoming war, more a fear of Saddam Hussein. Like a scene out of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four or a throwback to Stalinist Russia, there are informers and collaborators everywhere. Few, apart from a few brave or maybe foolhardy souls, dare give voice to their thoughts.

The Iraqis see the war as illegal, nothing less than an aggressive act, a crude attempt to steal their resources, they hate the Americans only marginally less than Saddam Hussein, nevertheless they desire war, as the only way to rid themselves of Saddam Hussein and his dreaded regime, but they want the war to be short, the Americans to leave. They fear civil strife when the regime collapses, revenge attacks, civil war, Sunni against Shia, Muslim against Christian, rise of Muslim fundamentalists. All of which came to pass.

The period of sanctions drove the majority of Iraqis into poverty, it strengthened the regime. Iraqis became ever more dependent on the regimes, from the basic necessities of life, for food, for jobs, even for life itself.

As Asne Seierstad freely admits, hers is but one account, a personal account of what she saw, others may have viewed it differently. But at least she was there. Implicit in her thoughts is that you seek out other accounts.

'My reports from Baghdad are my reports. They come directly from my own – not always adequate – experiences.'

'The events might have been interpreted differently by other correspondents. An Egyptian journalist probably saw the war in Iraq from another angle; an American might have assessed the situation in a different way again; maybe an intellectual from Le Monde had his own emphasis.'

'The truth about the war in Iraq does not exist. Or rather, there are millions of true accounts and maybe just as many lies. My remit as a journalist in the chaos of war was not to judge, predict or analyse. It was to look, ask and report.'

'My greatest advantage was that I was there. My eyes were there, my ears were there.'

Four people, who I have had the privilege and honour of meeting and talking to, give their accounts: American journalist Christian Parenti and Christian peacemaker Peggy Faw Gish were in Iraq during the same period as Asne Seierstad. Journalist and documentary film maker John Pilger had written extensively and passionately and produced documentaries on Iraq. Milan Rai has written on Iraq, campaigned against sanctions and the illegal war, been imprisoned by the British for daring to challenge their polices on Iraq.

Unlike many journalists, especially those who turn their hand to churning out novels, Asne Seierstad can actually write.

Also read

Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace by Peggy Faw Gish

The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq by Christian Parenti

War Plan Iraq by Milan Rai

Regime Unchanged: Why the War on Iraq Changed Nothing by Milan Rai

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad [see BCID 5598191]

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk [see BCID 5489926]

Freedom Next Time by John Pilger

The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy [see BCID 5598200]

The New Rulers of the World by John Pilger

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