PRESS RELEASE: “Once Upon a Time in Iraq”

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=====================FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE===================
March 27, 2008For more information, contact:Basil Balian, phone: 513-236-0260E-mail: b4sight@current.net
New Book Details Life in a once Peaceful and Progressive Iraq

CINCINNATI—Imagine an Iraq where people of different religions and ethnicity lived in harmony and peace, where children could grow up and be educated, where businesses both large and small thrived, and the basic necessities of life were within nearly everyone’s reach. Imagine a progressing, economically vibrant Iraq on its way to becoming a vital and functioning developed country. A new book, “Once Upon a Time in Iraq”, by Basil Balian, offers such a view.Balian, an ex-Iraqi and resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, memorializes his growing-up years in Iraq in this book. “Once Upon a Time in Iraq” provides American readers with a glimpse of a pre-Saddam Hussein Iraq in which ordinary life was possible. Described by one early reviewer as “informative, humorous, insightful and humanizing of the Iraqis,” _Once Upon a Time in Iraq_ provides the reader with a vision of Iraq they’ve never seen before, a place of growth and progress but also traditions and customs, a place of human comedy as well as tragedy.>From his early childhood spent among the Kurds in Khanaqin, near the Iranian border, as the son of a British Petroleum Company executive, to his adolescent and young adult years in Baghdad and as a student at the American Jesuit high school, Baghdad College, Balian treats readers to personal stories in a place that’s become known only as a place where devastating explosions are a daily occurrence and American soldiers go to die. Balian’s motivation for writing the book, he says, “came from friends and acquaintances who seemed interested in what I had to say about the Iraqis after our involvement in Iraq. They thought what I had to say needed telling.” He continues, “Iraq was going through relatively normal times during the decades that I write about. Iraq was pro-West at this time. There was an underlying strong nationalistic sentiment among the middle class and educated masses to be independent but the main outside influence was a western influence. Indications are that history is about to repeat itself. Maybe there are lessons to be learned this time.” “I believe the failure of the West in the past was that they did not take enough time to understand the Iraqi culture. I hope it will be different this time, and I hope this book will be helpful,” he adds.The 250-page book is available only from www.Lulu.com as an e-book for $6.50 or $16.50 for a paperback copy. To view a preview of the book, go to the website and type “Balian” in the Search button.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com