Sunday, February 16, 2014

This story is too crazy to be true - but I know for a fact that it is

"1,001 Nights in Iraq" by Shant Kenderian is one of those stories that gives new meaning to the phrase "truth is stranger than fiction." 

Who would believe that a person with a United States permanent resident status could wind up as a Prisoner of War guarded by Americans who don't believe him?  On top of that, this same person was happy to be a POW, since he put himself in harms way just to have the opportunity to be captured.  And to put a cherry on top, that he falls in love with one of the female soldiers at one of the prison camps.

Yes, truth is stranger than fiction - but I can assure you that Shant's story is true.  How do I know?  Because he was one of the tens of thousands of Iraqi Enemy Prisoners of War that came through the camp that I was a guard in.  Woah.... this just got a little weirder!

Shant came to the United States with his mother after she left  her husband and spent a few years in the US as a permanent resident.  While in high school, Shant made the journey back to Iraq to make peace with his father.  This is when Shant's impeccable sense of being in the absolute wrong place at the wrong time started.  Iraq invaded Iran, and if you were over 18 and a male, you were forced into the Iraqi Army.  How would they convince everyone to do this?  Well they would execute males who refused as traitors, but Saddam didn't stop there - he would execute the entire family as well.

After that experience, which lasted years, Shant was finally weeks away from being able to return to his family in the United States.  His bad luck held up when Saddam decided to invade Iraq and he was drafted again - this time to fight against the country that he desperately wanted to get back to.

I don't want to give too much away, because I can't do the story anywhere near the justice it deserves and was presented in Shant's book.  I can tell you that this is one book that you will have to read to believe, and even then you might question it's authenticity.  But you can rest assured that it is all true.

I give this book a 10 out of 10.  It is a very easy read and will make you want to say "just one more chapter, then I can put it down."  This book also give a very unique insight as to what is was like for an Iraqi soldier in Saddam's army in their everyday life.  When you get the glimpse of Shant's description of his treatment as a "free" Iraqi soldier, you will begin to understand why he wanted to be a POW under American control so desperately.

There are so many different take away's from this book that this post would risk becoming longer that the book it is reviewing.  Do yourself a favor - find it, buy it, and read it.  You won't be sorry you did.

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