Haifa Zangana was a young woman in Iraq during the Baath regime as led my Saddam Hussein in the 1970's. As an activist who recognized the catastrophic potential of this regime, Zangana became as resister who was eventually captured. Dreaming of Baghdad is the true story of Haifa Zangana's imprisonment and torture in Abu Ghraib.
I was hoping to learn more about the Baath Party and the organized opposition that Haifa Zangana was a part of, but the book focuses on her imprisonment and her memories of growing up in Iran. It is also an account of her struggles with these memories after she is released and her yearning to return to the Baghdad she knew as a young child; a city that had celebrated it's new found freedom from British rule and lauded openness; a city that has changed so dramatically that the place Zangana remembers is one that no longer exists.
On a personal level, writing this book in the 1980's was my way to gain courage to look at the past, record it, examine it's values and mistakes, and to recapture its happy memories. In the process I liberated myself from the pain, sadness, disappointment, shattered dreams and obsession with the past. Writing helped me to return to the present, to celebrate life without fear, and to regain joy and human feeling.
The author notes that Dreaming of Baghdad may be the first published book written by an Iranian woman that details the the experience of imprisonment and struggle against the Baath regime. I think that fact alone should make this a book many people should read.
Publisher: The Feminist Press, 2009