Twenty Years of War

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad on the invasion of Iraq and the turmoil that followed in his homeland

Illustration by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Illustration by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

On March 20, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, and shortly thereafter, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad became an accidental journalist. Originally trained as an architect, he fell in as a translator with a group of foreign journalists, then as a photographer and war reporter for The Guardian and The Washington Post. In his new book, A Stranger in Your Own City, Abdul-Ahad documents the devastation of Baghdad, from the sanctions of the 1990s to the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s fall. Punctuating his account are revealing interviews with his fellow Iraqis—Sunni commanders, schoolteachers, old high school friends, insurgents of every stripe—about the war and its effects, which continue to shape life in the region years after the American withdrawal.

Go beyond the episode:

Some of Abdul-Ahad’s illustrations from the book:

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.

Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast

Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)

Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


Please enter a valid email address
That address is already in use
The security code entered was incorrect
Thanks for signing up