on April 30, 2012
If ever you might consider an individual both called by destiny and responding in Freedom to that call..Nahlah Ayed would be such a one. Her ability to both be a witness and a participant in the events in her life and the life of the Middle East is both objective and passionate. She has the gift of piercing through the veils of a situation and revealing the human heart of the matter..with tremendous clarity..thus able in a way to see things as they are with empathy..judging yet non-judgemental. Her writing has both the conciseness of the seasoned reporter under time restrictions having to cut to the chase without trivialising an event or a life. Yet her writing is not dry but leads you in deeply to the story..and as she says "the people are the story". I thank her for the writing of this book. Her insights and experiences are a gift to anyone trying to make understand more both the refugee, the weight of history, and the longing for emancipation.
on May 28, 2012
Nahlah Ayed is a Canadian, of Palestinian ethnicity. She begins the book with her early, comfortable life in Canada and then details her traumatizing move to a refugee camp in Jordan when she was a child. Her family lived in Jordan for seven long unhappy years before they returned to the security and safety of Canada. Nahlah became a TV journalist. With her fluency in Arabic, it was natural for her to cover the Middle East. She recalls various conflicts she saw, in which she was sometimes an accidental participant, with the cool eye of the professional. With her unusual background and understanding, she writes not just of the problems and overall disfunction of the region, be it Beirut or Baghdad, but captures the age old sadness. The dictators and autocratic monarchs have kept the people enslaved and finally, in the age of social media, they are beginning to rebel. A great read.
on September 1, 2012
A well-written, honest description of the key issues in the Middle East, and of the difficulties journalists face in covering the region. Ayed is a fine reporter, and as her book shows, a conscientious, decent human being. I've reported from the region myself, and her work is bang-on. Shukraan, Nahlah.
on February 18, 2013
In this book Nahlah's dedication to hearing the ordinary people's stories made a real connection with me.
The narratives created empathy. Her unique background enabled the reader to look into the window of the lives of those that lived and died in this mysterious region. The Arab proverbs and the language provided a real sense of both context and insight into the Arab world.
Nahlah's account was as unbiased as it can ever be. We are all somewhat biased however
She gave the accounts of those that were there. I sensed no politics, just narratives and her observations.
Nahlah showed complete respect for people throughout her extended assignment. I also felt her fear and excitement as she traversed the region. I came away with respect for her bravery and her character.
I take away how both different and similar we in the West are with those in the Middle East. It seems the moral foundations, as developed by J. Haidt, of Loyalty, Santification, and Authority are just as important to those in the Middle East as Care ,Fairness, and Liberty is to Western Democracy. It is not that Care and Fairness don't count. It seems that they count more in groups, tribes and sects. As Nahlah pointed out time and again, the Habits and Traditions govern how to behave in Arab society. It seems to me, after reading Nahlah's concluding remarks that
Our Lens keeps us from seeing things from their moral values. Just maybe their democracy will evolve to account for group needs, just as we have enshrined individual needs in our constitutions. And maybe the "Groups" will ensure Care and Fairness. So far that is a big Maybe!
I share the Author's concern over the Arab Winter because the results of the Arab Spring are still being played out.
I recommend this book and had a hard time putting it down. The horror outside Kathimiya in Iraq was as tense a scene as one could imagine. The beatings Nahlah took showed the anger of out of control mobs. It also showed her Bravery and sheer determination! I think that anyone who reads this book will come away feeling for the countless victims of misguided tyrants. It is like Ground Hog Day. The story keeps repeating itself and it should stop.
In spite of this, I think we do need to try to understand the Arab world before we judge by our moral values and Nahlah's book affords us another opportunity.
on February 6, 2014
After seeing Nahlah on the CBC evening news so many times over the years reporting on stories in the middle east , hearing she
had written a book about her life i knew i would have to read it . I come from a " wasp " background ( white anglo saxon / protestant ) and Nahlah --Arab / Palestinian , you couldn't get 2 more different people if you tried . Yet i could easily relate to some of her feelings in her book which i found to be open , raw & honest and caused in me deep emotional reactions and new understanding
of just how difficult life in some countries really is , and just how truly fortunate i am to be where i am .
Thank you Nahlah * a thousand times * for sharing your life with us ( the world ) , i'm sure this couldn't have been easy to write for you .
Yes i would recommend this to friend-s- and already have .