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:
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 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

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania