Last Days in Babylon: The Story of the Jews of Baghdad

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Bloomsbury, 2007 - Baghdad (Iraq) - 324 pages
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Marina Benjamin grew up in London feeling estranged from her family’s Middle Eastern ways, refusing to speak the Arabic her mother and grandmother spoke at home and rejecting the peculiar food they ate. But when Benjamin had her own child, she realised that she was losing her link to the past. And so, in 2004, Benjamin visited Baghdad for the first time. When Iraq gained independence in 1932, Jews were the largest and most prosperous ethnic group in Baghdad. Just twenty years later, the community had been utterly ravaged, its members effectively expelled from the country by a hostile Iraqi government. Benjamin’s grandmother Regina Sehayek lived through it all: born in 1905, her life of privilege was little affected when the British marched into Iraq. But with the rise of Arab nationalism and the first stirrings of anti-Zionism, Regina began to have dark premonitions of what was to come. By the time Iraq was galvanised by war, revolution, and regicide, Regina was already gone, wrenched from her beloved husband in a hair-raising escape from her homeland.

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About the author (2007)

Marina Benjamin has worked as a journalist for fifteen years. She was arts editor of the

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