Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Salam Pax

The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi

by Salam Pax

“He was funny, precise, and brave from a position no one on this side of the crosshairs will ever face. . . . The primary narrative is as gut-twisting as it was in real time.” –Josh Goldfein, The Village Voice

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 224
  • Publication Date October 15, 2003
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4044-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00

About The Book

“Please stop sending emails asking if I were for real, don’t believe it? Then don’t read it. I am not anybody’s propaganda ploy, well except my own. 2 more hours until the B52’s get to Iraq.” –Salam Pax

Salam Pax has attracted a huge worldwide readership for the Internet diary he kept during the buildup, prosecution, and aftermath of the war in Iraq. Bringing his incisive and sharply funny Web postings together in print for the first time, Salam Pax provides one of the most gripping accounts of the Iraq conflict and will be the subject of global media attention.

In September 2002, a twenty-nine-year-old Iraqi architect calling himself “Salam Pax” began posting daily accounts of everyday life in Baghdad onto the Internet. Written in English, these postings contained everything from descriptions of the hardships of life in Saddam Hussein’s paranoid regime, to reviews of the latest (pirate) CDs by Coldplay and Bjork, to gossip about his employers. Salam daily risked retribution from Saddam’s regime, as more than 200,000 people went missing under Saddam, many for far lesser crimes than the open criticism of the regime that Salam voiced in his diary.

Salam Pax’s sharp, candid, and often dryly funny articles soon attracted a worldwide readership. In the months that followed, as a huge American-led force gathered to destroy Saddam’s hated regime, Salam’s Internet diary became a unique record of the anticipation, anger, resentment, humor, and sheer terror felt by an ordinary man living through the final days of Saddam Hussein’s twenty-five-year dictatorship, and the aftermath of its destruction.

Salam Pax is an astonishing record of the last days of Saddam and the clandestine diary of an ordinary Iraqi.


“He was funny, precise, and brave from a position no one on this side of the crosshairs will ever face. . . . The primary narrative is as gut-twisting as it was in real time.” –Josh Goldfein, The Village Voice

“Salam’s irreverently hip sense of humor and obsessions with pop culture were an unexpected, fascinating peek into a culture portrayed by our ‘leaders’ as alien.” –John Grooms, Creative Loafing

“[Pax’s] unsparing wit, like his journal, negates boundaries. . . . Like an extended prose poem on the uselessness of war and control, Salam Pax is a triumph of mood and tone–a beautiful offering to an ugly world.” –Denise Parkins, Memphis Flyer

“This collection of those dispatches (Salam Pax’s Internet postings). . .is almost impossible to put down.” –Lee Milazzo, The Dallas Morning News

“Despite the violent winds still buffeting [Iraq], maybe Salam’s voice will inspire yet more to find theirs.” –Gerald Wathen, East Bay Express

“The writing . . . is amazingly fluent, nuanced, modern and colloquial. . ..Every word [Salam Pax] writes serves as a fitting rebuke to those who took to the streets and airwaves convinced that bringing democracy to Iraq was a hopeless enterprise. A man like [Tony] Blair could ask for no better evidence that this was a war worth fighting.” –Bret Stephens, Jerusalem Post

“[Pax] began his blog September 2002. . . . The regular postings became an Internet phenomenon, a rare inside look at an invasion. . . . The asides are counter-balanced with sober tales of backyard turned battleground and a city populated with U.S. tanks and extremists whose pockets bulge with grenades. Reporting just doesn’t get any more embedded than that.” –Josh White, ALIVE

Praise for Salam Pax:

“The most famous and most mysterious blogger in the world . . . Salam Pax was the Anne Frank of the war . . . and its Elvis.” –Peter Maass, Slate.com

“In turns crass and subtle, provincial and worldly, the diary of Salam Pax has become one voice of an Internet generation alienated from nations and tribes but connected to one another in the most intimate digital ways.” –Charles Piller, The Los Angeles Times

“There are dozens of journalists and TV cameras in the Iraqi capital. But the most vivid account of the build-up to war and the start of the bombing has appeared on the internet-on the weblog of an unknown Iraqi writing under the name Salam Pax.” –Leo Hickman, The Guardian

“One of the most talked about [blogs] is that of a man known as ‘salam Pax.” Both parts of his nom de plume-‘salam” and “Pax”-mean peace, in Arabic and Latin, respectively. His accounts of the recent bombings, the current state of affairs in the Iraqi capital and his family’s reactions offer an incredible view of life in Baghdad.” –Erica Hill, CNN.com

“‘Salam Pax’ is an extremely talented writer. The singularity of his position and subject matter can lead one to overlook this, but I was aware of it as soon as I started reading him, just prior to the war. The fact that English is not his first language actually underscores his gifts of observation and expression; he’ll write “around” his own uncertainty of usage, and get it right on the button.” –William Gibson

“A mysterious Iraqi who goes by the name of “Salam Pax” and who writes a blog (Internet diary) from Baghdad is becoming a celebrity, on the Internet, with his firsthand stories of a city under siege . . . the traffic on the site has become so intense that it has blocked the server, while his e-mail has gone on the blink due to the vast number of messages from people who are asking him to prove his true identity.” –La Stampa (Italy)


Selected as one of The Advocate’s Top 10 Books


Sunday, March 09, 2003 ::

A BBC reporter walking thru the Mutanabi Friday book market (again) ends his report with : “It looks like Iraqis are putting on an air of normality”

Look, what are you supposed to do then? Run around in the streets wailing? War is at the door eeeeeeeeeeeee! Besides, this “normality” doesn’t go very deep. Almost everything is more expensive than it was a couple of months ago, people are digging wells in their gardens, on the radio yesterday after playing a million songs from the time of the war with Iran (these are like cartoon theme songs for people my age, we know them all by heart) they read out instructions on how to make a trench and prepare for war, that is after president saddam advised Iraqis to make these trenches in their gardens.

Other normal stuff we did this week:

• Finished taping all the windows in the house, actually a very relaxing exercise if you forget why you are doing it in the first place.

• installed a manual pump on the well we have dug because up till now we had an electrical pump on it.

• bought 60 liters of gasoline to run the small electricity generator we have, bought two nifty kerosene cookers and stocked loads of kerosene and dug holes in the garden to bury the stuff so that the house doesn’t turn into a bomb.

• prepared one room for emergency nasty attacks and bought “particle masks” – that’s what it says on the box-for use if they light those oil trenches, the masks just might stop our lungs from becoming tar pits. They are very hot items since the word on the trenches spread, you can buy one for 250 Dinars and they are selling faster than the hot cakes of bab-al-agha.

• got two rooms in our house ready to welcome our first IDPs-internally displaced persons-my youngest aunt who is a single mom with three kids because she lives farthest away from the rest of us and another aunt from Karbala in the south. Hotel Pax is officially open for the season, no need to make reservations but you might need to bring a mattress if you come too late.

:: salam 6:43 PM [+] From Dear Raed Archive

 ©2003 by Salam Pax. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Salam Pax (Peace)” CD/DVD

Don Arbor’s New CD/DVD, “Salam Pax (Peace)” Goes Global

I was inspired to write the song, “Salam Pax (Peace)” by the words of an Iraqi blogger who wrote during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, under the name Salam Pax– the Arabic and Latin words for peace. Like many other readers, I felt a deep connection to Salam’s insights, courage, and ironic sense of humor, in the face of inevitable war descending upon his home town.

The song and video, “Salam Pax (Peace)” honor the connections between people of different origins, and the possibility of a more peaceful world.

The “Salam Pax (Peace)” video premieres, as an Official Selection of the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, headlining the 10 p.m. show on Saturday, March 1, 2008, and will be aired on linktv later this month. It has also been named an Official Selection of the 2008 Berkeley Film and Video Festival.

One reason for the “Salam Pax (Peace)” project is to help “un-do the invasion”– to try to fix what’s broken, heal the wounds, and encourage a brighter and more harmonious future. Toward that end, half of all profits from the CD/DVD will go to help those who have suffered from the invasion of Iraq– both Iraqi citizens and American service men and women and their families.

If you want to help in other ways, you can DONATE directly to CIVIC, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (www.civicworldwide.org) or the American Friends Service Committee (www.afsc.org), two organizations that are working to relieve suffering caused by the war.

Link to Don Arbor: http://www.donarbor.com