30 April 2010

Heavy Metal in Baghdad - Book Review

Despite the fact that America has been locked into the Iraq conflict for over 7 years, it’s still difficult to get an accurate or honest understanding of the popular sentiments involved with the war (at least from the perspective of Iraq’s citizens).  Do they want us there?  How did they feel when they came?  Have we overstayed our welcome?  Did they see the same problems that George W. Bush saw when he pressed for the invasion?  Heavy Metal in Baghdad follows Acrassicauda, a Heavy Metal band in its formative stages, through both pre and post-war Iraq.  Rather than relying on an author to provide their own spin on the story, Heavy Metal in Baghdad relies on the dialogue of the band members themselves to paint a clear picture of their journey.

While at times difficult to follow (as a result of the transcript/interview format), Heavy Metal in Baghdad provides a level of insight that isn’t present in a lot of writing about the current Iraq conflict.  The story allows an understanding of Iraq through the lens of pop culture without a heavily skewed perspective.  The book focuses on the formation of the band Acrassicauda, but allows readers to understand how the events unfolded in Iraq with an inside perspective. 

Following Acrassicauda from their early days as a far away dream held by the members to a worldwide focal point proves to be an emotional roller coaster.  The members attempt to hold onto their dream as they struggle to find safety and escape from war torn Iraq.  The reader follows their quest through the painful separations from friends and family to anxiety ridden weeks as they work their way through bureaucratic red tape holding them back from freedom. 

Heavy Metal in Baghdad creates a new set of heroes in a time of tragedy.  Rather than focusing on soldiers or politicians, the book shows that social change comes on a variety of levels.  The passion in the book is inspirational as it demonstrates that dreams can live through almost anything, as long as we don’t lose sight of them.   

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