My Mesopotamia Notes

My Mesopotamia Notes : Of Gertrude Bell

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My Mesoptamia: Notes of Gertrude Bell Her forthcoming book is My Mesoptamia: Notes of Gertrude Bell. Gertrude Bell (4 July 1868 - 12 July 1926) is an amazing Victorian woman - explorer, archeologist (whose pioneering work holds up to this day), writer, translator and advisor to the British government. Bell is the subject of the recent Werner Herzog biopic, Queen of the Desert, starring Nicole Kidman, a film which romanticizes Bell. Valdivia's book examines the deeper aspects of this groundbreaking feminine polymath and the political repercussions of her work with the British. Many of Bell's recommendations, good and bad, still have deep resonance in the Middle East today. Unfortunately, the credit and honor (or blame and opprobium) which she so richly deserves has been shifted by history and myth to T.E. Laurence (Laurence of Arabia). In 1992, when Valdivia was finishing her masters degree at NYU, she was talking with acquaintances, who mentioned April Glaspie, the American ambassador to Iraq (the first woman ambassador to an Arab country). Just prior to the First Gulf War in 1992, Glaspie had a still-controversial meeting with Saddam Hussain. Some English people present during the conversation commented, "It would have been nice if Glaspie could have met Gertrude Bell." "Who is Gertrude Bell?" Valdivia asked. "She was the woman who had all the answers when the British were taking over the Ottoman Empire. She never got any of the credit she deserved for all the work she did." Thus was planted the seeds of a fascination that would grow and grow, until in 2004, when Valdivia began intensive research on Bell. Not only did she access Bell's letters, books and archival material, but she also traveled to Syria, Jordan, Iran and Turkey to visit sites associated with Bell. Initially, Valdivia wrote a 300-page novel about Bell, focusing on her travels throughout the Mideast. The book was translated into French and published in 2012 by Yvelinedition as Khatun: Gertrude Bell - Mentor de Laurence d'Arabie. At this point, Valdivia has no plans to publish the book in English. "As I was researching her life," she remembers, "I began to realize how deeply she was involved in politics and international affairs. Whatever she did in those long-ago years is even more pertinent now." This fact is evidenced by Bell's introductory quote in My Mesopotamia: "There is no unity among the Arab peoples." First, Valdivia thought up the title, then began outlining, with each entry another chapter. Unlike her other books, there is so much information to be conveyed, Valdivia wrote a prologue for each chapter. My Mesopotamia is told through the eyes of Sydney Flint, a Purdue archeology professor and lover of literature. Flint and her husband arrive in Baghdad on the day Clinton orders a missile strike on the Iraqi intelligence agency in retaliation for the Iraqi plot to assassinate George Bush. At the Iraq Museum (founded by Bell), they discover a manuscript in Arabic, the only words intelligible to her being Gertrude Bell's name. Flint is desperate to obtain the manuscript, or even a copy, and begins clandestine negotiations with a museum guard. But as perils for Americans in Iraq increase, Sydney and her husband must return to the U.S. without it. A few months later, the manuscript arrives in the mail, followed by a phone call from the museum guard, who demands a large sum of money. The Arabic was only on the cover page for museum goers to read. In actual fact, the contents of the manuscript were original notes by Bell, the nitty-gritty of political corruption and intrigue. Flint intends to pay the guard, but after his phone call, she hears nothing more from him. A series of strange and unnerving events begin to happen to the couple, culminating in their attempted murder. But the would-be Arab murderers are merely underlings, the front for a far more sinister cover-up.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 250 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 13mm | 340g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1507751931
  • 9781507751930