Magazine article Geographical

Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood

Magazine article Geographical

Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood

Article excerpt

BAGHDAD: City of Peace, City of Blood

by Justin Marozzi

Allen Lane, hb, 25 [pounds sterling]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

There's an Arab proverb that goes like this: 'When Allah created Hell, he thought he could improve on it, so he added flies and called it Mesopotamia.' Much in the same vein has been said about Baghdad, the capital city of Mesopotamia, or Iraq as it became after the First World War, when it was created as a kingdom under Feisal I, who had been recommended for the job by the British traveller and spy Gertrude Bell.

Another British adventurer, the intrepid Freya Stark, visited Baghdad in 1931. Her description of the city would appear to substantiate the Arab proverb. True happiness, we consider, is incompatible with an inefficient drainage system. It is one of these points on which we differ most fundamentally from the East, where happiness and sanitation are not held to any particular connection. In spite of many efforts, Baghdad still remains triumphantly Eastern in this respect. …

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