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Memories of Eden: A Journey Through Jewish Baghdad
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Description for Memories of Eden: A Journey Through Jewish Baghdad
Hardcover. Tells the tale of the authors childhood spent in the city of Caliphs, Scheherazade and the land of the Garden of Eden, of traditions passed down over the generations, and captures the elusive quality of a scene totally at odds with our image of Iraq. Editor(s): Rocca, Tony; Rocca, Mira. Num Pages: 320 pages, 50-55 illustrations. BIC Classification: 1FBQ; 3JJ; BGHA; HBTB. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 145 x 225 x 28. Weight in Grams: 644.
Memories of Eden evokes a bygone era - when pre-WW2 Baghdad was one-third Jewish and interfaith relations were harmonious. When Violette was born, Mesopotamia had been Ottoman for some 600 years, until redrawn as Iraq by the British when Violette was eight years old. This bittersweet memoir tells of a childhood spent in the city of Caliphs, Scheherazade and the land of the Garden of Eden, of traditions passed down over the generations, and captures vividly the elusive quality of a scene totally at odds with our image of today's Iraq. As a privileged young woman growing up with ... Read moreher extended family in the city of The Thousand and One Nights, Violette re-lives the excitement of a vibrant society coming to terms with daily life, first under Ottoman, then British, and finally, pro-Nazi rule, which ended in disaster for the Jews of Iraq, who were brutally attacked in two days of slaughter in May 1941 while British troops stood by, under orders not to intervene.The pogrom, which sounded the death-knell for the oldest community in the Diaspora, has been sidelined in history. Now, in a final section in the memoir, the editors reveal the steps that led to the catastrophe and the British bungling that brought it about. Like Anne Frank's diary, Memories of Eden tells of an easy and happy childhood, of growing maturity and sophistication, and then shrinking circumstances, victimisation and, finally, flight. Show Less
Forum Books Ltd
About Violette Shamash
Place of Publication
London, United Kingdom
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The AuthorViolette was born in Baghdad in 1912, and lived with her brothers and sisters on the riverbank in a 'castle' built by their father in Ottoman days. She grew up in Arcadian conditions, an Arab of the Jewish faith, witnessing Mesopotamia's emergence from a primitive past to a modern present and a future full of promise.But when the Jews ... Read morewere attacked in the pogrom of 1941, she and her young family fled to start a new life in India, and after that, Palestine. The combination of Violette's acute asthma and Israel's war of independence meant that the family fled once more - to Cyprus. The following years were spent between the island and Israel, before finally settling in London in 1964.A cultured and educated lady, Violette was passionately interested in Jewish Iraqi history, and for over 20 years sent jottings, letters, and short essays to her daughter, Mira. These Memories of Eden have now been edited by Mira and her journalist husband, and published for a broader audience. Violette died in 2006.The EditorsTony Rocca is a journalist, author and winemaker, the grandson of the Italian immigrant who bestowed the name Manchester United on the struggling soccer club once known as Newton Heath (no shares passed down the line).Born near Manchester and educated at Rossall, at the age of 17 he began working for a local paper, the Stockport Express. In 1964 he joined the Daily Mail where he worked for 10 years. There followed a further decade in London with The Sunday Times as reporter, feature-writer, Insight investigator and foreign correspondent with specialised interest in Greece, Cyprus and the Middle East.Tony's 15 minutes of fame came with the demise of Sir James Goldsmith's Now! magazine which he joined as deputy news editor on the very morning it became Then! Next came a brief period as features editor of the Mail on Sunday and several years freelancing. His articles have appeared in most British national newspapers as well as The New York Times and Reader's Digest.In 1989 he and his wife Mira returned to his family's Italian roots and invested their savings in a dilapidated Tuscan farmhouse. The story of the pitfalls and adversity that can confront the 'good life' novice, ending in unprecedented success for the wine they produced, formed his first book, Catching Fireflies, published by Century in 2004 (Arrow, 2005). Show Less
Reviews for Memories of Eden: A Journey Through Jewish Baghdad
This is an extraordinary, unique and invaluable book. Violette Shamash, who died in 2006, tells the story of the Jewish community in Baghdad in the first half of the 20th century. She writes beautifully and her book is superbly readable. She describes in exquisite detail the histories, lives and customs of Iraq's Jews through the evocative stories of her own ... Read morefamily. This astonishing record has been put together by Violette's daughter Mira and her husband Tony Rocca from letters, notes and essays written by Violette over a period of 20 years. These tell the story of a cultivated and well integrated Jewish community in the heart of Muslim Arabia during the end of the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate. Memories of Eden is a superb account of a long forgotten time - indeed a time which is barely imaginable now, given the hatreds that currently exist in the Middle East. Until the Second World War, Jews and Muslims lived side by side, she writes. We were treated as equals and accepted on our own merit until the poison of Nazism and Arab nationalism entered the bloodstream. The evil spread like a bad, contagious disease. It still does so - William ShawcrossHer book provides a unique insight into the culture, customs, and everyday life of the Jews of Iraq. It paints a sensitive portrait of an ancient civilization which was swept away by the violent current of modern nationalism. The contrast between the harmony and peaceful coexistence depicted here and the mayhem and destructiveness of present-day Iraq could hardly be starker - Professor Avi Shlaim, St Antony's College, OxfordIt is full of detail: the heat, the holy days, the rituals, food, smells and sounds of the souq; the river Tigris, its water and fish; the costumes and clothes people wore; schooldays and rides on donkey-back before motorised transport became available...A treasure house of information - Professor Shmuel Moreh, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem (from the Foreword) Show Less