“Now, when I was in Baghdad” – A Short Guide to Iraq

One of my first posts on this blog concerned a World War II booklet illustrated by Dr. Seuss. It was one of a cache of such booklets that had belonged to one of my uncles during his wartime service as a Navy pilot. Although not collector’s items, these little guides to China, India, Burma, West Africa, and even New Caledonia, fascinated me as a kid. As an adult, both before and after my discovery that the Dr. Seuss booklet was a collector’s item, I didn’t give them much thought.

Several years ago, though, they were brought to mind by a call from the person who was then in charge of GPO’s public relations office. Every so often we get calls about long out of print Government publications, and this was one of them. A reporter was asking about A Short Guide to Iraq and did I have any information about it? “Well, yes. Oddly enough, I own a copy.” I explained the background and said I’d rummage around at home and find it.

Within a few hours, I was in her office doing a telephone interview with a wire service reporter with a British accent. She seemed fascinated by how I had come to own a copy of the booklet she was seeking. As far as I know, the story never went anywhere, but I’m still amazed at how much excitement these old documents can stir up.

As for A Short Guide to Iraq, what seems to engage people is that American troops were sent to Iraq during the Second World War and that so much of the advice it provides seems relevant even today. A university press has reprinted a facsimile under the title “Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II” (the cover looks different but it’s basically the same book). It’s a quick read and very well done for its purpose, which was to give a quick overview of Iraq and its people for the average GI or sailor. It’s similar in intent, although less elaborate in execution, to the Afghanistan and Pakistan Smart Books I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. Click here to read this neat little booklet.

11 Responses to “Now, when I was in Baghdad” – A Short Guide to Iraq

  1. Bet @ Hair Solution TV says:

    WOW, that was very interesting. My friend, who also went to Iraq a few years ago, has recently shared with me his story. And your book is really similar and relevant to his story. Thanks for highlighting us. I truly appreciate it.


  2. Pomegranate says:

    Thanks for the great information. Just finished the booklet and i have to say im stuck for words. Bush and his croonies would have been better reading his book. Cant believe that the book is still very relevant even today.


  3. Arowana says:

    Hi Thanks for the great booklet. I just read it and found it very interesting. I come from a militry family so i seek out information like this. Thanks Again.


  4. Call Pakistan says:

    Many Thanks for the info. I have read the booklet, must say that its worth reading… Bush administration should have paid more attention to this info…I agree


  5. Mitchell says:

    I spent some time in Turkey and Saudi, and the reference to the tall man in the flowing robe is something I can relate to. It’s an interesting place, both hospitable and dangerous. I’ve been to Asia and Europe and nothing comes close to the middle east, in how very different it is.


  6. Ayumi Higa says:

    Thanks for link. I read the booklet and it’s very interesting. I agree with David, the Bush administration should have given attention to this little booklet, it might have saved the lives of thousands of soldiers.


  7. Peter J says:

    Very interesting booklet. It is very interesting how what was applicable in Iraq then remains largely applicable today.


  8. I, too, have a copy of A Short Guide to Iraq in my library. Back in 2006, I sent a letter to the editor of The New York Times about the booklet, but they didn’t publish it. What I found most interesting was an excerpt on page 4 that is not included in the online version you linked to. Here it is: “That tall man in the flowing robe you are going to see soon, with the whiskers and the long hair, is a first-class fighting man, highly skilled in guerilla warfare. Few fighters in any country, in fact, excell [sic] him in that kind of situation. If he is your friend, he can be a staunch and valuable ally. If he should happen to be your enemy—look out!” If only the Bush administration had read this little booklet, they might not have been surprised by the development of an Iraqi insurgency.


  9. Thanks for highlighting this item and for pointing to the Internet Archive.

    I’m sure some of your readers will want to share your experience of holding this item in their hands. Thanks to America’s libraries, they can. Jump over to http://www.worldcat.org/title/short-guide-to-iraq/oclc/937656 to see a list of at least 56 libraries that hold this book.

    I say at least 56 because the item is old enough that a number of Federal Depository Libraries might have the item but haven’t recorded it in their catalogs. To find out, make note of this item’s SuDoc number of W 109.110:1655 and then find your nearest Federal Depository Library by visiting http://catalog.gpo.gov/fdlpdir/FDLPdir.jsp. Visit, call or e-mail that library and see if can can put “A short guide to Iraq” in your hands!


  10. Research Librarian says:

    What a fascinating little item — I love that you’ve made it available at the Internet Archive(www.archive.org)! I’m thoroughly enjoying this blog, keep the great stuff coming!


  11. This is absolutely fascinating–thank you so much for sharing this–


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