sutras of abu ghraib

The Sutras of Abu Ghraib – Notes from a conscientious objector in Iraq

‘The Sutras of Abu Ghraib’ is the story of a soldier who refused to succumb to violence. In chronicling the struggles of military life and the dehumanizing effects of war, Aidan Delgado examines the attitudes that make prisoner abuse possible and explores his own developing Buddhist beliefs against a brutal backdrop. It is a tale of physical bravery, moral courage, and the cost of holding on to your identity while everyone around you is losing theirs.

“Aidan Delgado is a powerful, eloquent writer. His description of how he was transformed by the horrors of Iraq is unforgettable. He is a diamond in the rough, sandblasted in the desert of Iraq.” — Amy Goodman, Democracy Now

In explaining why he wrote the book, Aidan Delgado explained, “Throughout my career as an activist, I have always wanted to talk to people in depth, away from the politics and the rhetoric. I hope this book will finally allow me to speak to people in the way I always intended: person to person.”

From Publishers Weekly
Delgado, one of the few soldiers to gain conscientious objector status during the Iraq War, paints a grim picture of an army suffused with casual racism and capricious violence. After signing up to become an army reserve mechanic—he completed the paperwork on September 11, 2001, minutes before the first tower was hit—Delgado found himself drawn to Buddhism, and his faith ultimately clashed with the military service he faced in Iraq. Having lived in Egypt as a teenager, Delgado was alarmed by the ignorance of Islam and xenophobia among his fellow soldiers. He attributes those attitudes to the abuses at Abu Ghraib, where he was stationed for much of his tour of duty. Delgado’s commander, who did not look favorably upon applications for CO status, took his body armor away and didn’t return it, even when the unit was under continual mortar bombardment. This slim and readable volume is best when recounting the author’s conversations, altercations and adventures in Iraq; his meditations on pacifism are sometimes repetitive and tendentious. In the end, he offers a welcome corrective to much of the aggressive rhetoric that has pervaded the debate over the war in Iraq.

Publishers Weekly : “he offers a welcome corrective to much of the aggressive rhetoric that has pervaded the debate over the war in Iraq.”

Booklist, ALA : “an absorbing and worthy story that offers one man’s perspective on a conflict that continues to divide our nation.”