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Don't Shoot the Clowns: Taking a Circus to the Real Iraq [Paperback]

Jo Wilding
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Oct 2006
"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.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: New Internationalist Publications Ltd (5 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904456480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904456483
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.8 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 682,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'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

About the Author

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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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting first hand account. 17 Dec 2011
Like Jackie in the previous review, I also heard Jo Wilding being interviewed on the Radio 4 programme, which led to me purchasing this book. Unlike Jackie, I became engrossed in the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is one of very few first hand accounts from the receiving end of the "shock and awe" in Baghdad. It offers an insight in to the pain and suffering in particular, of the children. The account of coming under fire from American Marines in Fallujah while in an ambulance is the kind of event that sadly can only be told by a white, Western person. If an Iraqi had told the same story it would have been dismissed as propaganda.

I do agree with Jackie that the 'best bits' were in the Radio 4 programme, but I felt that the book fleshed out those best bits and that is why I wanted to read it.

Incidentally, the BBC programme is still available on 'Listen Again'. 'Midweek', 3rd November 2010 [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! Highly recommended 15 Feb 2012
When I bought this book, I wasn't really expecting it to be so great. It features all sorts, from quite shocking statistics to some beautiful photographs of ordinary people the author met in Iraq, but most significantly for me personally, a real life account of all kinds of different people from a country that is very rarely shown in such a way in the media.

Some parts had me in tears because of the sheer kindness of many of the people Jo Wilding mentions in her book. I would thoroughly recommend this book, both to people who are interested in Iraq, and to anyone who perhaps hasn't really seen any other perspective on the country and its people other than the news (which I hadn't really before reading the book).
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a let down 5 Feb 2011
By Jackie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I heard the author of this book on radio 4, I found her totally fascinating hence why I ordered the book. I now think they encapsulated all of the best bits into the 10 min interview. Whilst I acknowledge the difficulties people face in the countries she has worked in I found the book dull, tedious and repetitive. : (
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jo Wilding is the greatest 18 May 2007
By Paul Siemering - Published on
Jo has more courage than anyone I know- she risked jail to try to break the blockade on Iraq, then brought her "Circus 2 Iraq" with some of her pals. She has plenty of stories to tell about the sanctions and about Fallujah, where she was when the u.s marines tried to destroy it. It's just amazing to read what she writes, and try to remember how those craven embeddeds with the flack jackets kept it all out of tne mainstream media. We needed Jo Wilding then, and we need her now. Because she can tell you the awful reality of the assault on Iraq like no one else. I mean the girl is dragging wounded Iraqis into ambulances in Fallujah, and taking fire from the u.s. marines.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kind of boring 3 Mar 2011
By Sue-Anne Cherry - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was definitely not what I was expecting at all. Very dry and boring and didn't keep me hooked to the story. I wasn't expecting a book filled with humor but I was expecting a good, well written account. Unfortunately I did not receive that.
It did show up on time and was in great condition so I have no complaints there.
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