Revolution Day

by Omaar, Rageh

Throughout the war in Iraq millions people turned to Rageh Omaar’s BBC reports from Baghdad. Omaar was BBc’s Television’s main correspondent reporting from Iraq. He had watched the suffocation of Iraqi society after a quarter of a century of dictatorship and then, in March 200, he witnessed the last desperate hours of peace before the bombs fell. His unique and haunting narrative captures the moment when twenty-five agonizing years came to an end and a country was changed for ever.

‘Suddenly, Baghdad was a city frantically preparing for war. The central Shorja market had stubbornly remained its usual busy self for months. The main concerns of shoppers had been finding the best prices for cola and cans of tomato puree. In one day the market was transformed into a sea of desperate faces trying to buy up the last remaining oil lamps, masking tape and boards to protect windows from being blown in. I had awoken from a state of absolute denial. Adnan Mustapha Hamid, a young restaurant manager, was typical of the many that thronged Al Shorja that day. “I know the British and Americans say they will spare civilian targets,” he said, “but few of us believe them.” ‘

Writing form the heart of Baghdad, Omaar follows the war from its beginning to its aftermath: he describes the atmosphere among the people on the night the first bombs hit; the horror they felt as they watched their city burn; the anarchy and unforgiving heat that overwhelmed  the country in the battle’s wake. Beautifully written and almost unbearable in its details, Revolution Day is a powerful and intimate account of a city and its people under siege, and of a conflict  at the very centre of our world.