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Living in Romantic Baghdad

An American Memoir of Teaching and Travel in Iraq, 1942-1947

by Ida Staudt

Publication Year: 2012

A firsthand account of the socio-political atmosphere of the pre-Saddam Hussein era of Iraq, when the country first struggled with the establishment of a nation-state.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Editor’s Foreword

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pp. xi-xx

Why is this memoir published posthumously, almost sixty years aft er it was written? Th e author, Ida Donges Staudt (1875-1952), and her husband, Calvin K. Staudt (1876-1951), who cofounded the American School for Boys in Baghdad in 1924, retired in 1947. They accepted the invitation

Editor’s Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-xxii

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Preface

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

This book chronicles interesting and colorful incidents of my life in Baghdad and Iraq. It gives my observations and experiences and reactions in a reborn land as it was trying to adjust itself to a new world with its surging influences and problems. My life in Iraq, as it was framed between two...

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1. Arriving in Baghdad, 1924

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pp. 1-13

When I was graduated from a small college, which was only a little more than a preparatory school, I was not yet sixteen. The town was small and its two major influences were the college and the church. I grew up rather unsophisticated and knew much less of the general ways of the world than...

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2. An Educational Adventure

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pp. 14-26

Our appointed task was to be engaged in educational work in Baghdad, and to that end we at once addressed ourselves. It was an educational adventure in more ways than one, and was undertaken at a time when conditions for such a venture were favorable. This was shortly after the...

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3. School of Life

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pp. 27-31

As I was about to undertake the writing of this chapter, a letter came to us from one of our former students who is now enjoying a fellowship in a university in America where he is doing graduate work. In his letter he tells what the American School for Boys in Baghdad has meant to him. He...

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4. Significant Occasions

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pp. 32-41

No sooner had we arrived in Baghdad than we launched into a continuous stream of public events. These were significant occasions which introduced us to every phase of Baghdad’s stirring and varied life. These occasions, too, were spectacular and dramatic in both setting and action...

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5. Yesterday and Today in Baghdad

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pp. 42-53

I seldom went down the street in those earlier years without exclaiming at something new that had caught my eye: a new business establishment displaying new goods, the first large plate window installed by an automobile concern, a modern hotel modeled aft er a European, a cinema offering...

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6. Gardens, Houses, and Feasts

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pp. 54-67

No one really knows the heart of Baghdad unless he has intimately entered into the exquisitely lovely customs that prevailed. It was my rare privilege while in Baghdad to enjoy many a garden party, to share the joys of the various feasts of the different communities, to be entertained with...

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7. Weddings

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pp. 68-80

Weddings in all countries are of ageless interest, and those in Baghdad were novel as well as interesting to us. This, in large measure, was attributed to the great variety of forms which stemmed from the many races and religions in the population and the desire of each group to hold on tenaciously...

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8. Little Journeys about the City

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pp. 81-95

How long the summer days in Baghdad are. The sun rises early and greets the sleepers on the roof with a heated and vehement call: “Arise, arise.” And it is the part of wisdom to heed this fervid call. For the sluggard who continues to doze aft er Phoebus has given the call there is no mercy. He...

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9. Baghdad from the Tigris

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pp. 96-106

It is the Tigris that draws you in Baghdad; at least, it did draw me. The river is so accessible, so near to every part of the city, flowing almost through the middle of it, that one would suppose much use would be made of it for recreation and enjoyment. But we did not find this to be so, though when...

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10. To Basrah on the Tigris

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pp. 107-120

Having learned to know the Tigris as it flows through the heart of Baghdad, I bestirred myself to follow its course also from Baghdad to Basrah. Henry Van Dyke once wrote that every river has its own quality and that it is the part of wisdom to know and love as many as you can...

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11. Visiting the Shiah Holy Cities

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pp. 121-132

The rug below the table on which I am writing was bought from an Iranian pilgrim. As I look down and see the intricate design, and turn the rug over to see the many knots to the square inch, I am touched with a profound thought. Th is pilgrim came with very little money in his possession...

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12. In the Land of the Kurds

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pp. 133-147

When you are in Baghdad you certainly are confined to it. Are there pleasant drives in the environs, or a variety of scenes nearby, or hills with a cooler air within a reasonable distance? None. Th e plain of southern Iraq, throughout most of the year, is a hot, parched desert, with towns not...

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13. Exploring Scenic Iraq

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pp. 148-156

From Arbil to the Iranian frontier five mountain ranges must be crossed. When we had reached the top of the first range, we could discern lying before us, as far as the eye could reach, range aft er range of mountains, each rising higher and higher in the distance. Some of the peaks toward...

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14. The Bedouin Tribes

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pp. 157-168

One cannot live in Iraq without being conscious all the time of the tribes. Almost the whole population outside the cities is subject to the tribal system. Someone who has lived in the country the major part of his life, and who knew the tribal ramifications, has stated that seven-eighths of the...

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15. The Uprooted Assyrians

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pp. 169-173

Strange to have a train conductor in ecclesiastical robes,” I said to my husband in the train from Basrah to Baghdad on our arrival in Iraq in 1924. He was a friendly, bearded man, this priestly conductor, or guard as the British would say. Th e black robe he wore had a rusty look, and the purple trimmings...

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16. Iraq’s Great Statesman

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pp. 174-181

Three armies in the First World War were on the march to break up the Turkish Ottoman Empire. These three campaigns were spectacular and of staggering consequences. General Allenby marched his army from Egypt into Palestine; Prince Faisal and Colonel Lawrence headed toward...

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17. And So They Passed

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pp. 182-194

The death of King Faisal was a great loss to the country. Indeed, it was a calamity for he could not be replaced. Then there were other very influential people who passed away aft er our arrival in Baghdad. Th e number is really appalling. Death seems to have singled out Iraq as his special field...

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18. The Magic Horse and the Magic Carpet

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pp. 195-206

Routes! Routes of migration, routes of armies, routes of travel, routes of trade; land routes, sea routes, and air routes girdling the earth like Ariel! Nowhere else in the world had I ever become so conscious of routes as in Iraq. Whether I was thinking of the ancient highways of the land or...

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19. The Story of Oil

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pp. 207-217

Three letters of the alphabet spell the little word oil, which, like the little word atom, is charged with tremendous power, both for good and for evil. Oil has shaped and shapes national and international policies. It causes plans and intrigues to move as does that dark and thick and oily flow. It...

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20. A Nazi-Inspired Revolt, 1941

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pp. 218-229

Crossing Faisal Bridge one morning, an automobile stopped at my side, and a friendly voice invited me to share the car. It was the wife of Herr Doctor Grobba, the German minister to Iraq. Incidentally while conversing, she made some reference to her husband, and this gave her an occasion...

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21. Changing and Changeless Baghdad

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pp. 230-242

In July of 1941 we left Baghdad with nothing in our possession by way of booking except railway tickets from Baghdad to the port of Basrah. As World War II was on, we were advised to go without booking and pick up chances along the way. Happily, chances followed one aft er another...

Glossary

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pp. 243-246

Works Cited

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pp. 247-248

Index

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pp. 249-252

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780815651819
E-ISBN-10: 0815651813
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815609940
Print-ISBN-10: 0815609949

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 1 map and 1 black & white
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Contemporary Issues in the Middle East

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Staudt, Ida Donges, 1875-1952 -- Travel -- Iraq.
  • Iraq -- Description and travel.
  • Iraq -- History -- Hashemite Kingdom, 1921-1958.
  • Americans -- Iraq -- Biography.
  • Teachers -- Iraq -- Biography.
  • American School for Boys (Baghdad, Iraq) -- History.
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