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Irene Watson

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Iraq Through a Bullet Hole by Issam Jameel: Book Review
By Irene Watson   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, January 13, 2011
Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2011

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"Iraq Through a Bullet Hole" is a unique on-the-ground account of a country shattered. Iraqi playwright Issam Jameel returned to Iraq after a 12-year exile. Giving up the relative safety of Jordan, he made a perilous journey to Baghdad for a reunion. Unfortunately, the reason for his trip was to grieve for his nephew, recently killed by American forces while guarding an Iraq parliament member from insurgents. Jameel also mourns the loss of a formerly secular civil society replaced by vehement sectarianism, intolerance, and ignorance.

Basic human needs like food, water, and power have become an endless daily struggle amidst the shards of infrastructure. Routine tasks, such as selling a house or getting a job are fraught with peril as old scores continue to be settled on religious, ethnic, and political fronts. Everywhere he turns, people are desperate to leave, but fear for the worst. After escaping this madness, he recorded his eyewitness report, desperate to provide an honest and impartial tale of an epic tragedy which has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced many more.

Iraq Through a Bullet Hole: A Civilian Wikileaks

Issam Jameel
Modern History Press (2011)
ISBN 9781615990900
Reviewed by Richard Blake for Reader Views (11/10)

Iraqi playwright Issam Jameel left Iraq in 1994 to work in Jordan during the regime of Saddam Hussein. He took a job with the Almoustakbale radio station owned by one of the Iraqi opposition groups. This choice labeled him and left him in exile. During his stay in Jordan he converted to Christianity. In 2002 he left Jordan to relocate in Australia, where he resides today. “Iraq Though a Bullet Hole” is his unique account of a two-month return for a family visit to Iraq beginning in July of 2005.

Jameel describes his country as shattered by war, made up of a people traumatized by fear, and a government ruled by intimidation, violence, and intolerance, bent on preventing political reconciliation. His visit to Iraq was an effort to provide comfort to a brother and his family whose son was killed by American forces while guarding an Iraq parliament member. He details his day-to-day activities as he exchanged the comparative safety of Jordan for the uncertainty and hazards of Baghdad.

I enjoyed the insights into the concerns of various family members for Issam and his safety welfare. The ongoing dialog with Sami regarding Islamic faith and his concern for Issam’s conversion to Christianity provided an interesting slant on the teachings of the Qur’an,

Maps and photos provided in the appendix add another dimension to the narrative, revealing the devastation, congestion, and culture of central Baghdad, its suburbs, traditional houses, and modern structures. He describes the basic hardships such as food, water, and power. He discusses the difficulty in getting a job and selling real estate in light of the hostile religious factions, ethnic splinter groups, and radical political blocs and their on-going struggle for power.

Jameel gives a fair and honest look at U. S. Involvement in Iraq. His writing is stimulating, authentic, and revealing. “Iraq Through a Bullet Hole” is a powerful and relevant account.


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