The Poet of Baghdad: A True Story of Love and Defiance

The Poet of Baghdad A True Story of Love and Defiance In the winter of Nabeel Yasin Iraq s most famous young poet gathered together a handful of belongings and fled Iraq with his wife and son Life in Baghdad had become intolerable Silenced by a se

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  • Title: The Poet of Baghdad: A True Story of Love and Defiance
  • Author: Jo Tatchell
  • ISBN: 9780767926973
  • Page: 351
  • Format: Paperback
  • In the winter of 1979 Nabeel Yasin, Iraq s most famous young poet, gathered together a handful of belongings and fled Iraq with his wife and son Life in Baghdad had become intolerable Silenced by a series of brutal beatings at the hands of the Ba ath Party s Secret Police and declared an enemy of the state, he faced certain death if he stayed Nabeel had grown up in thIn the winter of 1979 Nabeel Yasin, Iraq s most famous young poet, gathered together a handful of belongings and fled Iraq with his wife and son Life in Baghdad had become intolerable Silenced by a series of brutal beatings at the hands of the Ba ath Party s Secret Police and declared an enemy of the state, he faced certain death if he stayed Nabeel had grown up in the late 1950s and early 60s in a large and loving family, amid the domestic drama typical of Iraq s new middle class, with his mother Sabria working as a seamstress to send all of her seven children to college As his story unfolds, Nabeel meets his future wife and finds his poetic voice while he is a student But Saddam s rise to power ushers in a new era of repression, imprisonment and betrayal from which few families will escape intact In this new climate of intimidation and random violence Iraqis live in fear and silence yet Nabeel s mother tells him It is your duty to write His poetry, a blend of myth and history, attacks the regime determined to silence him As Nabeel s fame and influence as a poet grows, he is forced into hiding when the Party begins to dismantle the city s infrastructure and impose power cuts and food rationing Two of his brothers are already in prison and a third is used as a human minesweeper on the frontline of the Iran Iraq war After six months in hiding, Nabeel escapes with his wife and young son to Beirut, Paris, Prague, Budapest, and finally England.Written by Jo Tatchell, a journalist who has spent many years in the Middle East and who is a close friend of Nabeel Yasin s, Nabeel s Song is the gripping story of a family and its fateful encounter with history From a warm, lighthearted look at the Yasin family before the Saddam dictatorship, to the tale of Nabeel s persecution and daring flight, and the suspense filled account of his family s rebellion against Saddam s regime, Nabeel s Song is an intimate, illuminating, deeply human chronicle of a country and a culture devastated by political repression and war.

    One thought on “The Poet of Baghdad: A True Story of Love and Defiance”

    1. I just started reading this one during a camping trip and anxiously await brief moments when time affords that I can sneak a quick read. So far, I have found it to be masterfully written. As Americans, we know so little history of the Middle East and even less about the character of the people and this book illuminates both in an accessible and extremely humanizing way.UPDATE! - I'm about half-way through and the story line is getting darker (imprisonments, torture, culture of fear), but the wri [...]

    2. This is a beautifully written account of a prominent Iraqi poet, Nabeel Yasin, and his family through the modern era of Iraq from the emergence of the Ba'athist party and then Saddam Hussein - and Nabeels persecution and then exile at the hands of the Ba'ath party - all the way through the liberation of Iraq by coalition forces in 2003 and the mess that followed.Rarely have I read a non-fiction book that reads so lyrically and tells a story so compellingly. This story broke my heart as it descri [...]

    3. i read this book in 2 days,i don't know what to say about it is based in Baghdad,Iraq in the winters of 1979 is about a very famous poem known as Nabeel Yasin who writes poertry about against the ba'ath party which is the Iraqi secret police.he is one of Iraq's most famous poet!.he is married to Nada and has a child.he then gets into a lot of trouble for writing such poetry against the Saddam Hussain government and he has to flew the country which is Iraq and has to live in various countries and [...]

    4. The biography has been wonderfully written. The details of the life of Yasins in and out of Iraq make you feel that you are there. I also liked the book because it is contemporary in a sense. We have seen the news. However the book doesn't dwell on anything that had been the subject of news or media. It goes deep and focuses on the daily life.The read is easy and pace is good.The time jumps are adequate and Jo has done every transition smoothly.It is a beautiful story. I wouldnt say that it is a [...]

    5. The story of Nabeel and his family's unwillingness to blindly follow Saddam is inspiring - not only as a political story, but as a human/family storyfamilies stick together and support one another - that is what is important.I felt his story was well toldeven if I had some issue with the vast amount of dialogue and moments of "how would they know if they weren't there?" Regardless, it was a good book.

    6. This book jumped into my hands at Costco and demanded to be purchased. It was the only copy, but I seldom buy books for myself, so I resisted and looked for the book at the library. Surprisingly it wasn't in the library system. About two weeks later the book again flew into my hands. Again, it was the only copy. This time I bought it and discovered the book had been previously published with the title NABEEL'S SONG. I guess the title was changed when it was published in the U.S. to appeal to a g [...]

    7. It is 1979 when a famous young poet from Iraq gathers his family and leaves his homeland. Life has become too dangerous for him to remain. Nabeel Yasin was determined to write his poetry as he saw his country and the people who live there. His defiance made him a target and an enemy of the state. This is a fascinating story about a young man who believes so strongly in freedom that he writes about it thereby inspiring others to seek it and resist the political repression under which they live. T [...]

    8. This book is masterfully written. Jo Tatchell skillfully weaves a touching vision of domestic life in a place that is usually painted as exotic and, more importantly, hidden behind the propaganda of a dictator’s vision. As Nabeel’s story unfolds the reader is drawn deeper and deeper into the staggering and tumultuous events that unfold in the recent history of Baghdad. With my heart racing as the Yasin family meets yet another impossible obstacle to freedom, I had to remind myself again and [...]

    9. In one way or another, I realised that the silences, dialogues and experiences in this book are universally understood. I have not known nor endured a regime and war as such faced in Iraq, but a few points have hit home. It was also reminiscent of our very own Moi regime.1. "The greatest sadness is that a generation of Iraqis has been raised on violence. Hate and aggression is their language, the only form of expression they know." - We have tribalism and leading politics to deal with here.2. Ar [...]

    10. The book is approximately 80% the story of the Yasin family through the decades, their defiance of Saddam Hussein’s (aka His Excellency the President the Leader God Placed Him) treacherous rule, their struggles to survive despite their growing dissidence, the emotional toll they face as some children are forced into exile without the ability to effectively communicate with family members in a war-torn Iraq. The other 20% delves into the background of Iraq’s totalitarian government, its Secre [...]

    11. A very good book showing the people of Iraq trying to live under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein and covers the invasion that topples him from power. We first meet the family before the coup that toppled the puppet government and life improves under the General for Nabeel's family-until the coup which eventually puts Saddam in power. Nabeel is a poet who writes anti-government work and his older brothers are communists which puts the entire family in constant danger. The men are always being [...]

    12. This is the story of Nabeel Yasin, Iraq's most famous poet. The book follows Nabeel through childhood and through the persecution he (and his brothers) experienced under the Ba'ath party and Sudam. The story is amazing and perhaps supports the view that invading Iraq benefited some. I found the first part of the book rich with culture. However the second half seemed to fall into journalism instead of story telling - which isn't a surprise as the author is a journalist for the Guardian and Prospe [...]

    13. Not particularly well-written, but fascinating for those of us who know little of the modern history of Iraq. The book is also full of little day-to-day details clearly taken directly from the poet's stories of his youth. Nabeel Yasin's rise in Iraq and eventual expulsion provides an fascinating way to observe the workings of politics, power, and greed on literature and culture. Despite underdeveloped charachters and mismatched modifiers, the book moves fast, draws you in, and shocks you again a [...]

    14. A true look into the lives of those directly before and the decades after Saddam Hussein came into power, this book will captivate you, keep you turning the pages and ultimately break your heart.I had the privilege of being on vacation when I read this book therefore when I couldn't put it down, I didn't have to. Warning: If you have a hard time keeping track of names like I do, keep a list as you read who they are. It gets confusing.

    15. A true story of an Iraqi family over the last 50 years. This story (an easy read) certainly has me rethinking some of my strong opinions on the American invasion of Iraq and the current troubles today. As with many stories to which I am drawn, this story reminds me of the most basic truth: people just want to take care of their families. Live in peace with those around them. Have an opportunity to enrich their lives. Why do a few mad men always seem to mess it up for so many?

    16. We are incessantly bombarded with news and politics on a daily basis. Horror, drama and hot air has left me adrift, articles and tweets on bombardments float by, their impact diminished. This book has re-tingled the connection for me, recreating an empathy for the suffering ordinary families in these turbulent times. It is a much-needed read, a reminder that beyond and above politics, people matter.

    17. It's so hard to believe this is a true story--it reads like fiction and the persecution, abuse, and mental and physical cruelty is so difficult to fathom as a person's (and a people's) reality. Whew. Can't stop thinking about this one.Wish there were a 3.5-star option. For me, the story is a 4, and the writing is nice and spare, but it's maybe a 3.

    18. Written more like a novel than a biography, this is an engaging look at what happened to Iraqi poet Nabeel Yasin and his family. Not only is it an intimate portrait of one man's family, but I think it offers a good glimpse inside what Iraq and what it was like for many families in the years before the Ba'ath rise to power and Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.

    19. Very readable biography of Iraqi poet Nabeel Yasin and the persecution he and his family suffered under the Baathist party for 35 years. Told of family's steadfast adherence to their intellectual and free-thinking values even under torture. Three of the family, including Nabeel, went into exile. Not much about Yasin's poetry--only snippets--but an amazing story.

    20. This was a very good book about the life of an Iraqi family before, during and after the regime of Saddam Hussein. It saddens me that there are country's out there with such awful leaders. Repulican or Democrat, matters not, in America we are free to believe whatever we want. I appreciate that even more after reading this family's ordeal.

    21. A very interesting look at what everyday life was like living in Iraq over the past thirty years. It follows the lives of one family as they face one repressive regime after another and brings the story right to present day.Considering the weight of some of the topics it was still very readable and didn't feel like 'homework.'

    22. I read this last week at the beach. I think I finished it in two days. It's an engrossing story of a family persecuted and torn apart over several decades in Iraq. The strength and loyalty to ideals of the members of the family portrayed are inspiring. A review on the cover of this book calls it "doubly powerful for the knowledge that a happy ending is still far away." I couldn't agree more.

    23. This is a book about an Iraqi family raising their children at the time Saddam Hussein took control of Iraq. It is interesting to see how they deal with the tyranny of Saddam and deal with constant threats of being put in jail and having to deal with the injustices that were prevalent in Iraq at this time. This is an excellent book that I highly recommend all to read.

    24. Loved this one. It was horrible to think not just of the personal events that happened to the family, but the expanse of time when things went from emerging middle class to bare survival. 60 years of increasing hell.

    25. I liked this book but didn't love it. I was glad to read about Iraq and learn about what life was like under Saddam. That was eye-opening. Unfortunately the writing is just so-so, but I have great admiration for this family though I wish they had found a way to leave Iraq sooner.So much suffering.

    26. This was a great book, a true story of a poet in Iraq from the time of the Shah all the way through the fall of Saddam. It provided great insight into Iraqi history and culture which was something i knew very little about.

    27. This book gives great insight on life in Iraq between the mid 1950's until 2004. It is a very interesting story of one man and his family's life, while providing a brief history of Iraq as well. Great book!

    28. An insightful story of real life in Iraq and the struggles of the people caused by politics. Brutal and honest, yet sad and depressing, this shows how the wars continue for decades whilst we in the west forget at times. living our modern comfortable lives.

    29. I wanted to like this book. I was very intrigued by the story, but the low quality of the writing kept me out of it. It felt vague and fuzzy and lacked any sort of anchor. In the second chapter I felt like I was wasting my time. I feel kind of bad about it, but I won't pick this book up again.

    30. The least compelling story with the most promising source material I have ever finished without its being an academic assignment. And it was, kind of, an assignment: I wouldn't've finished it if it hadn't been for bookclub.

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