A Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal – Asne Seierstad

A Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal - Asne SeierstadFrom the publisher: “From January until April 2003 — for one hundred and one days — Åsne Seierstad worked as a reporter in Baghdad for Scandinavian, German, and Dutch media. Through her articles and live television coverage she reported on the events in Iraq before, during, and after the attacks by the American and British forces. But Seierstad was after a story far less obvious than the military invasion. From the moment she arrived in Baghdad Seierstad was determined to understand the modern secrets of an ancient place and to find out how the Iraqi people really live.

In A Hundred and One Days, she introduces us to daily life under the constant threat of attack — first from the Iraqi government and later from American bombs. Moving from the deafening silence of life under Hussein to the explosions that destroyed the power supply, the water supply, and security, Seierstad sets out to discover: What happens to people when the dam bursts? What do they choose to say when they can suddenly say what they like? What do they miss most when their world changes overnight?

Displaying the novelist’s eye and lyrical storytelling that have won her awards around the world, Seierstad here brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters to tell the stories we never see on the evening news. The only woman in the world to cover both the fall of Kabul in 2001 and the bombings of Baghdad in 2003, Åsne Seierstad has redefined war reporting with her mesmerizing book.”

Usually, I’m not all that into politics. I try to keep connected to what’s going on there, but this is not the sort of book I would normally read.

A Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, by the New York Times best-seller of The Bookseller of Kabul, Asne Seierstad, is so much more than politics. In fact, that’s very little of it. As the publisher’s statement says, this book is about a woman reporting for various news sources, including the Dutch, German, and Scandinavian media, and her quest to find the voice of the people. Chronicling from before to during to after the bombings by the American and British forces, from the deafening silence of oppression under Saddam Hussein to the destruction of his infamous statue. From the government monitoring everything to no running water or electricity. From people who had lived like this for years to children and their views on war and their wild fantasies. For a while, Seierstad works with a team of child psychologists and interviews families. That’s probably one of the more disturbing parts of this book. This is less about bombing a country than bombing families.

This book brings into blatant light the oppression of a people and just how common it is. About how human rights are denied day in and day out by these dictators. It’s a shocking reminder of how costly freedom really is.

Especially with news from today, only six years later, and people still fighting for the same freedoms, it makes one wonder if there will ever be universal freedom. If people will ever be filled with empathy and compassion.

All in all, it’s kind of a depressing tale. There is no happy ending, only truth. It truly makes you appreciate what we DO have, as Americans. There is an element of fear in this book that I simply can’t comprehend. If Americans were jailed, tortured, or simply vanished because of slander against the president or the goverment, christ, there wouldn’t be any of us left!

Here’s to being able to be smarmy bastards. Check out this book.

She doesn’t seem to have a website, but you can check out her Wikipedia page here.


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