Though the Kurds played a major military and tactical role in the United States’ recent war with Iraq, most of us know little about this fiercely independent, long-marginalized people. Now acclaimed journalist Christiane Bird, who riveted readers with her tour of Islamic Iran in Neither East Nor West , travels through this volatile part of the world to tell the Kurds’ story, using personal observations and in-depth research to illuminate an astonishing history and vibrant culture.
For the twenty-five to thirty million Kurds, Kurdistan is both an actual and a mythical place: an isolated, largely mountainous homeland that has historically offered sanctuary from the treacherous outside world and yet does not exist on modern maps. Parceled out among the four nation-states of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran after World War I, Kurdistan is a divided land with a tragic history, where the indomitable Kurds both celebrate their ancient culture and fight to control their own destiny. Occupying some of the Middle East’s most strategic and richest terrain, the Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the region and the largest ethnic group in the world without a state to call their own.
Whether dancing at a Kurdish wedding in Iran, bearing witness to the destroyed Kurdish countryside in southeast Turkey, having lunch with a powerful exiled agha in Syria, or visiting the sites of Saddam Hussein’s horrific chemical attacks in Iraq, the intrepid, insightful Bird sheds light on a violently stunning world seen by few Westerners. Part mesmerizing travelogue, part action-packed history, part reportage, and part cultural study, this critical book offers timely insight into an unknown but increasingly influential part of the world. Bird paints a moving and unforgettable portrait of a people uneasily poised between a stubborn past and an impatient future.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Thousand Sighs, A Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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A Thousand Sighs, A Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan
Through the Back Door
the maltai family lived in a big airy house on the outskirts of Dohuk in northern Iraq. Out front stretched their even bigger garden, its borders etched with fluttering purple blossoms mixed with penny-sized red wildflowers that the patriarch, Aziz Maltai, had transplanted from the mountains. Here and there bloomed flowers grown from seeds sent by friends in Europe. In the middle splashed a hand-carved fountain, water spilling from cup to cup to cup into a violet pool below.
"Flowers are like young sheep," Aziz Maltai said, examining a rosebud on our way into the house. "The more time you spend with them, the more they grow."
At the door, a line of women waited-dressed in floor-length gowns of lilac, black, deep green, and bright red, their long lacy sleeves tied behind their backs while still allowing for freedom of movement. Most of the older women's heads were covered with gauzy black or white scarves, most of the younger women's heads were bare. "B'kher-hati, b'kher-hati," they all cried-welcome, welcome-and kissed me on both cheeks before ushering me into a large room furnished only with Oriental carpets, a kerosene heater, and shiny benchlike couches lining two walls.
Women sat on one side, men on the other, as Aziz was joined by some of his nine sons and other male relatives. In contrast to the patriarch, who was wearing a Western suit and red tie, many of the men were dressed in the Kurdish shal u shapik, or trousers and jacket. Resembling billowing aviators' jumpsuits, traditionally made of goat's hair, the shal u shapik come in a variety of muted hues-browns,