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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Living in Romantic Baghdad: An American Memoir of Teaching and Travel in Iraq, 1924-1947 by Ida Donges Staudt

Feasts of pomegranates and roses, golden minarets, Everlasting Fires.  Ida Staudt and her husband, John, experienced all these during their time in Iraq.  Staudt's account celebrates their romantic and idyllic life in Iraq and truly takes the reader into a lost world.

Staudt and her husband established the renowned American School for Boys in Baghdad.  This prestigious school attracted students from all over Iraq.  The couple also improved the education of girls in Baghdad.

Unfortunately, I didn't think that Staudt wrote very much about the school but her memoir is so interesting that this is a minor complaint.  She and her husband travelled from one end of the country to the other. They enjoyed Bedouin hospitality, met the Kurds in the distant mountains, and saw the ancient splendour of the ruins.  They met King Faisal, ambassadors, a grandmother of kings and many other fascinating and influential people, such as the imperious Gertrude Bell.  
I wasn't sure if I would like this book at first because the writing was a little bit old-fashioned and the beginning of the book consisted of a history lesson.  However, I began to really enjoy it after reading about ten pages and I am now thinking of buying it.  (I read it on the Kindle).

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