Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Authors, Artists & Friends" Series

Travel doesn’t always turn out as planned. Shant Kenderian's two-week visit to Baghdad turned into a nightmare that lasted for ten years. Come to the Glendale Public Library to hear Shant Kenderian’s amazing story on Wednesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. The event is free.

Shant Kenderian's visit to Baghdad in 1980, at age seventeen, was supposed to be a short one -- just enough time to make peace with his estranged father before returning to his home in the United States. But then Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and sealed off Iraq's borders to every man of military age -- including Shant. Suddenly forced onto the front lines, his two-week visit turned into a ten year odyssey.

After the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990, recalling Kenderian to active duty before he could escape. When the landing craft he was on hit a mine in the Persian Gulf “ironically placed by his own unit” the survivors were picked up by an American frigate and the relieved Kenderian became a POW. Because of his flawless English, Kenderian was a favorite of his American captors.

After much diplomatic maneuvering, the self-described "man without a country" was granted "humanitarian parole" and returned to the U.S. Kenderian's decade-long ordeal is a bittersweet story, but after acknowledging his "really bad timing," he eschews the negative for an inspirational account of perseverance and survival.

Shant has written a book about this experience as well, 1001 Nights in Iraq: The Shocking Story of an American Forced to Fight for Saddam Against the Country He Loves.

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