Memoir on Life in Iraq by Farnaz Fassihi of ‘WSJ’ Arrives in September

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By: Greg Mitchell

Farnaz Fassihi, whose frank e-mail on horrific conditions in Iraq in September 2004 caused a media sensation, has penned a memoir to be published in September by Public Affairs. It is titled, “Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq.”

Fassihi is now deputy bureau chief of the Middle East and Africa for The Wall Street Journal, and is based in Lebanon.

After working for the Star-Ledger in Newark and the Providence Journal, Fassihi joined the Journal in 2003 and was soon sent to Iraq.

In the foreword for the book (an advance “reading copy” was sent to E&P), Fassihi revisits that famous e-mail, recalling that after it was passed around the globe via email, blog postings and Web reprints, it even showed up as the subject of a Doonesbury cartoon. She reflects that because she was writing friends, “I spoke freely, without the restraints of daily journalist that obliged me to be distant and objective,” and this moved readers the way her newspaper pieces rarely did.

“I have written this book in the same spirit as I wrote that e-mail,” she explains. The e-mail is printed in full at the close of the book.

Fassihi in that foreword reveals that the book offers a look at what it was like to be a young, female reporter covering this war. A publicity release for the book observes, “Haunting and lyrical, ‘Waiting for an Ordinary Day’ tells the untold story of a post-invasion Iraq through native eyes.” Fassihi reveals at the close of the book that since leaving Iraq she has kept up with former colleagues but many of her former friends in Iraq have vanished, leaving no trace of their whereabouts.
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E&P Editor Greg Mitchell’s new book includes a chapter on the Fassihi email and is titled So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits — and the President — Failed on Iraq.

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