Don't Shoot the Clowns

Don't Shoot the Clowns : Taking a Circus to the Children of Iraq

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"Don't Shoot the Clowns" is Jo Wilding's account of living with Iraqi people during the war and its aftermath. She tells what daily life is really like in a country coping with invasion and occupation, and how she and a hastily recruited troupe of circus performers brought clowns, laughter and some moments of respite to the children of Iraq. As a human rights observer, Jo Wilding, a young British trainee lawyer and solidarity activist, witnessed and recorded in her blog some of the worst atrocities committed against ordinary people. Out of the trauma grew the circus, travelling round the squatter camps, schools and orphanages, putting light and hope back into people's lives. 'I want to thank you for coming,' said one observer. 'This is the first time since the war that I have seen the children laugh this way, from their insides.' Jo Wilding isn't a journalist looking for stories. In simply playing with children, helping where possible and instinctively recording events, she provides a unique and independent perspective. Her daily accounts have an immediacy and accuracy that bring the scenes sharply into focus.
From the shocking, painful stories of the siege of Falluja - where, for a terrifying day and night, she was taken prisoner - to the crowds of mesmerized children, every episode vividly describes life in occupied Iraq.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 18.8mm | 412g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1904456480
  • 9781904456483
  • 507,357

Table of contents

Introduction: Circus2Iraq 1 Waiting for war, February-March 2003 2 War: 'Shock and Awe', 20-31 March 2003 3 'We have nothing': the rebuilding of Iraq, November 2003 4 To Kurdistan, 18-21 November 2003 5 Saddam's arrest, 14 December 2003 6 Health in a shattered state, December 2003 7 Incommunicado: Prisoners in Abu Ghraib, December 2003 8 Start of the Circus, January 2004 9 Asking the Fairies: the Circus in the squatter camps, January-March 2004 10 Another day, 31 January 2004 11 Playing with the lost boys, January-March 2004 12 Happy Family, January-March 2004 13 The most famous circus in Iraq, January-February 2004 14 'Collateral damage', March 2004 15 The bomb, 18 March 2004 16 Circus to Kurdistan, March 2004 17 Circus in the South, March 2004 18 Falluja, 10-16 April 2004 19 Falluja's refugees, April-May 2004 20 Thawra, April-May 2004 21 Where have all the women gone?, April-May 2004 22 Universities, May 2004 23 De-Ba'athification, 2004-2006 24 Epilog
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Review quote

'Jo was the only one of us foreigners in Iraq who I was absolutely sure was doing something useful. She made thousands of children happy.' Naomi Klein, author, No Logo 'Excellent unembedded reporting.' Mark Thomas, comedian and campaigner 'If you wish to know the real meaning of the phrase "collateral damage", read this book.' Emma Thompson, actor 'When I first heard that clowns were going to Iraq, my feeling was, "That's all they need." But reading Jo's blogs and watching the film A Letter to the Prime Minister, I suspended my prejudices. The therapeutic value of Circus2Iraq is beyond question; and Jo's involvement with the situation, and her ability to illuminate it for the outside world, offer us priceless access. She goes further than most in introducing us to the people our taxes are killing. But, to be more positive, she also shows us the courage, resourcefulness and cheerfulness of which human beings are capable. This book is not about missionary zeal, but about being human.' Jeremy Hardy, comedian and campaigner 'Jo Wilding's honesty, humor, compassion and courage enliven each story she tells. Teetering on stilts, blowing bubbles, and evoking sidesplitting laughter, she reached common ground with ordinary Iraqis. But the title Don't Shoot the Clowns pertains to nearly every paragraph of this extraordinary memoir. Wilding is a gifted writer. I hope her book, when shared widely, will fuel growing resistance to war.' Kathy Kelly, anti-war activist and co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness '...enormous courage, a deep sense of justice, compassion and a will to show the human face of tragedy - a much needed contribution to showing the picture of modern barbarism.' Hans von Sponeck, Former UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq 'Jo Wilding is a cheeky angel, a voice for the voiceless, a frontline unembedded reporter, a children's entertainer, and a born writer. She represents a new generation of activists who stand by those at the wrong end of the guns, and who won't be moved.' Milan Rai, anti-war activist, author and co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness 'On the worldwide web, the best 'alternative' websites are already read by an audience of millions. The courageous reporting of Jo Wilding from besieged Iraq is a striking example. She is not an accredited journalist, but one of a new breed of "citizen reporters".' John Pilger, from his anthology of the best investigative journalism, Tell Me No Lies
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About Jo Wilding

Jo Wilding is a human rights lawyer working in London. In the last few years she has been an activist, blogger and clown. Her weblog from Iraq ( was read all over the world during the war and the ensuing occupation. She was one of 1,000 women worldwide jointly nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
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Rating details

25 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 28% (7)
4 52% (13)
3 16% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 4% (1)
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