of two brothers and best friends: from growing up in Iraq under a tyrant regime, to trying to date girls in an ultraconservative society, to the moment when the U.S. Armed Forces set foot in Iraq and change their lives forever.
Stubborn, loyal, and with a reckless belief in his own invincibility, Mohammed is one of the U.S. Forces’ top interpreters, volunteering for dangerous missions with everyone from the Navy Seals to the Green Berets. He earns the ironic nickname “Saint” while protecting street children one minute and weaving a destructive path of jilted lovers the next.
However, when insurgents label him a traitor and post his picture in mosques throughout the city, Mohammed rises to the top of Baghdad’s most wanted. From narrowly avoiding being kidnapped by his best friend to finding himself in the desert with a knife to his neck, Mohammed is simply too stubborn to die.
Kadhim is in medical school when the U.S. Forces come to Baghdad in 2003. He believes this to be Iraq’s chance for a free and democratic society, and is shocked as he watches friends and classmates – including his own girlfriend – become increasingly polarized as the country turns to war.
He starts a surgical residency at Baghdad’s largest hospital, only to discover that his workplace is overrun by a brutal Shiite militia, corruption, and a certain number of amorous female patients. While doctors and staff flee, Kadhim remains, conducting triage at gunpoint, facing threats from corrupt staff, and trying to save his patients from being kidnapped from their hospital beds. As circumstances escalate, he realizes that soon he must either give up everything he ever loved… or join the dark side.
In the beginning, it was only the three of them: Kadhim, Mohammed, and the corpse.
There was something about this young man’s look that made Baba nervous, and he tensed himself to run. Then the tips of the young rebel’s mouth twisted into an ominous smile. “Don’t you recognize me, teacher?”
The pounding came at their door at nearly ten o’clock at night, and almost before they knew what was happening, two armed members of the Republican Guard burst into the entranceway.
There could be no doubt about it. Firas was a blessing, a delight, and a complete surprise. Without access to prenatal testing, their new baby brought with him a few extra surprises.
When Kadhim at last returned the phone to its receiver, it was with a sigh of relief and a heady flush of excitement and embarrassment. He had a girlfriend.
“That’s right,” Omar laughed wryly. “I’d already handed it to him when I realized what it was. The whole damn card is printed in English! It says “military contractor” and has “United States of America” written across it in bold letters! And that’s when I knew we were fucked.”
“Kadhim!” Farouq looked at him suddenly, his eyes widened in panic, and he shoved his hands under his butt. “Kadhim, I swear to God! If you don’t stop this car right now, I am going to shit all over your seat!”
This book brings Iraq and its culture to life like no other. War, love, action, religion and death make the book a page turner you will never forget.
As a deployed National Guard Physician I had the unique privilege of working with the young physician protagonist of this true story. The book is an accurate account of the challenges faced by these two young brothers in a lawless society and of their work to help others in the middle of chaos.