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Erin Ann Thomas

Books In Progress

Through the eyes of twenty-nine year old civilian interpreter Sterling Jensen, Rain in Anbar: An Interpreter’s Story of the Sunni Awakening covers the pivotal events in Ramadi between 2006-2007, culminating in the Sawha led by Sheikh Sattar Abu Risha. The Sunni Awakening, as it has come to be called, reversed the course of the Iraqi conflict by empowering the Iraqis to take back their cities from Al Qaeda.

Jensen, as an Arabist and lover of Arab culture, struggles to close the gap between his American patrons, the U.S. Army, and the Iraqi power brokers in Ramadi to recruit and train an Iraqi Police force.  As these two ill-suited partners collaborate, Anbar, once the most dangerous province in Iraq, becomes the safest, ultimately serving as a model for decreasing violence in Baghdad and abroad. The progress made in Ramadi parallels Jensen’s development as a young man, sorting out his education and romantic attachments for his future life back home.

 Although this book takes place during the Iraqi War, Iraq is portrayed not simply as a warzone, but as Sterling sees it: the land of Mesopotamia with a deep history and culture. The courageous efforts of unlikely heroes support the central message of the book: democracy cannot imposed, only chosen through sacrifice for the good of the whole. As the Sawha spreads, the possibility of democracy in Iraq materializes through the symbol of a date palm, a tree cultivated since Sumerian times along the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates, the two rivers that serve as the life blood of the otherwise barren land of Iraq.



Path to Breath: An Asthmatic’s Quest chronicles my investigation of alternative means to overcome asthma, my exercising partner of twenty years. I will track my aerobic health through running three times a week for three miles while applying six month-long treatments, focusing on different aspects of wellness: body, mind, spirit.  My progress and experiences will be recorded at the blog below, and later incorporated into a narrative that examines my path to breath, not only through this investigation, but throughout my life as I have come to see the body not as an impediment, but as an integral part of my soul.


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