Santa Claus in Baghdad: And other stories about teens in the Arab World

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Author Elsa Marston has written a wonderful book about the Middle East, but not another boring political analysis of why the conflict started or who is to blame. Instead, she focuses in on the children of the Middle East under the inspiring title “Santa Claus in Bgahdad: and other stories about Teens in the Arab World.”

There are 8 stories in this compelling collection that brings the reader to the harsh realities of a very harsh part of the world. The stories reflect the experiences of Arab and Muslim children from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine and from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, from where the greatest injustices continue till this day. Stories from Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan round out the poignancy of this book with the title coming from one story in Iraq, now under American military occupation and rule.

This book does more than offer compelling stories. It offers real insight into why the conflicts continue, contracts what Americans think they know and how little they really know about the causes of the conflicts from the standpoints of innocense and tragedy an perikous lives of young children clouded only by the desire for peace.

I read it and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished. I hope you will read it too.

The book is published by the Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis and can be purchased through many online and retail book stores, and from their web site at Or, call 1-800-842-6796.

Marston is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction. her books include “Women in the Middle East; Tradition and Change; the Cliffs of Cairo; and Muhammad of Mecca, Prophet of Islam.

This book needs to be in every library.

— Ray Hanania

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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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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
Ray Hanania