Joanna Al-Askari Is A Kurd; Her Story, The Story Of The Kurdish People In Iraq Now Told in New Book - Love In A Torn Land

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Joanna Al-Askari and her husband Sarbast were two of the thousands of Kurdish victims gassed by the infamous Chemical Ali. Sick and temporarily blinded by the onslaught, Joanna survives this attack and others. She is now able to share her amazing story in a new biography by best-selling author Jean Sasson, Love in a Torn Land: Joanna of Kurdistan.

"These artillery shells were different. Once airborne, they fell silently, puffing up dirty white clouds. I continued watching the strange spectacle, my mouth dry with anxiety, not letting my imagination go to the worse scenario. Perhaps the silent canisters were harmless?"

The Kurds knew the attacks would come. They had grown used to the severity, seen the brutality, felt the sting of shrapnel. But on this day in 1987, Joanna Al-Askari and her husband Sarbast were two of the thousands of Kurdish victims gassed by the infamous Chemical Ali. Sick and temporarily blinded by the onslaught, Joanna survives this attack and others. She is now able to share her amazing story in a new biography by best-selling author Jean Sasson, Love in a Torn Land: Joanna of Kurdistan.

Joanna's journey begins in Baghdad. The daughter of a beautiful Kurdish woman and a deaf Arab engineer, early in life Joanna identifies with her Kurdish heritage. Yet as she grows, she begins to understand that the life of a Kurdish Iraqi is not an easy one.

Joanna's uncle was arrested and tortured in 1962 for the crime of being a Kurd. He would never fully recover. In Joanna's youth, her older brother and brother-in-law would suffer similar fates. Arrested and imprisoned after committing no crime, they were held in underground pits. Beating the odds, they both survive only to pay a visit to the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison. The brutal suppression of those she loves along with gruesome accounts of atrocities like the massacre on Martyrs Hill, where young Kurds were buried up to their necks and mowed down with tanks, contribute to Joanna's sense of outrage and determination to resist.

Fueled by these injustices, the young Joanna dreams of becoming a Kurdish freedom fighter--a Peshmerga. When she meets and marries a handsome young Kurdish Peshmerga, Sarbast Hussain, Joanna's dream becomes reality.

Love in a Torn Land describes Joanna's wedding without a groom and her journey into Kurdistan to join her beloved husband. The journey is dangerous, but she perseveres on her chosen path. She will survive the bombs, the chemical attacks, the brutal day-to-day existence and the loss of those she loves. She will flee when chased and return to fight again. As we follow Joanna through Sasson's riveting narrative, a granite character emerges: Joanna is a Kurd and a Peshmerga, and a survivor.

For readers numbed by the brutality in the headlines every day, Joanna's story gives this important and oft-overlooked piece of Iraqi history a face and a voice. Jean Sasson elegantly balances horrifying stories of unfathomable hatred with moving vignettes of the passion of an unlikely romance and inspiring tales of Joanna's determination to fight this historic injustice. Part investigative reporting, part feminist biography, and part romance, Love in a Torn Land captures the complexity of life as a woman in one of the most war-torn regions of the world.

Jean Sasson is the author of the New York Times bestseller Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia as well as two sequels to that book and Mayada: Daughter of Iraq. She is also the author of The Rape of Kuwait, a powerful first-hand chronicle of the Kuwaiti experience in the days after the Iraqi invasion of 1990, for which Sasson gained unusual access to Kuwaitis from all walks of life, from ordinary citizens stranded inside the country during the occupation to the highest members of the Kuwaiti royal family. Sasson has appeared on Oprah, the Today show, 48 Hours, Imus in the Morning, CNN, and NPR.

Joanna Al-Askari will be available for print and broadcast interviews upon the release of the book. Jean Sasson will also be available for print and broadcast interviews and will accompany Joanna on all radio interviews. For more information on Love in a Torn Land and/or to schedule an interview with Joanna Al-Askari and/or Jean Sasson, please contact Mike Onorato at Wiley.

Title: Love in a Torn Land: Joanna of Kurdistan
Author: Jean Sasson            
Publisher: Wiley    
Format: 6 ⅛"x 9 ¼" hardcover, 322 pages, 32 B&W photographs    
Retail Price: $24.95
ISBN: 978-0-470-06729-1

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Mike Onorato

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