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The Sutras of Abu Ghraib

Notes from a Conscientious Objector in Iraq

Author: Aidan Delgado

A young man’s transformation from Army Reserve volunteer to Buddhist conscientious objector and critic of the war 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.

The son of a diplomat, Delgado grew up in various countries, including Thailand, where he was introduced to Buddhism, and Egypt, where he learned Arabic. In 2001, after his first year of college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, and in 2003 he was deployed as a specialist in Nasiriyah and at Abu Ghraib. When his colleagues learned that he spoke some Arabic and enjoyed meeting Iraqis, they made use of him but also began to mistrust him. As Delgado witnessed more and more American racism, arrogance, and abuse of unarmed Iraqis, his opposition mounted. Concluding that war ran counter to his Buddhist principles, he sought conscientious objector status and, after finishing his tour of duty, was honorably discharged. The following year, Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times, “The public at large and especially the many soldiers who have behaved honorably in Iraq deserve an honest answer . . . Mr. Delgado’s complaints and the entire conduct of this wretched war should be thoroughly investigated.”
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“The point of view in this book is extraordinary—a Buddhist G.I. inside Abu Ghraib prison, a witness to the horrors, a conscientious objector. Aidan Delgado is a keen observer and an eloquent writer, and he shocks us while also educating us about the reality of the war in Iraq.” —Howard Zinn, author of You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train and A People’s History of the United States

“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!

“Delgado’s deep sense of patriotism inspired him to join the Army after 9/11, ultimately leading to his ‘boots on the ground’ nightmare in Iraq. His insight helps you understand the desperation of soldiers and the tragic and inevitable path leading to the photographs from Abu Ghraib. This book is sure to incite and renew demands for accountability.” —Former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski


Review: Shambhala Sun - October 1, 2007
“This is a fascinating story about the mundane struggles of modern military service, the dehumanizing effects of war, and the courage of one young man to live by his conscience.”
Review: St. Petersburg Times - September 23, 2007
"'The military is a vast, lumbering, bureaucratic machine,' Aidan Delgado writes. 'The sad truth is that often the only way to make changes is go outside the Army system to take grievances to the media, to Congress, or to the American public.' In his memoir The Sutras of Abu Ghraib, Delgado does just that, painting a graphic portrait of American involvement in Iraq."
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Review: Creative Loafing Sarasota - August 8, 2007
Sutras is a remarkable book, a searing tale of a young man in completely over his head.” Read Full Review
Review: Booklist - August 1, 2007
“An absorbing and worthy story that offers one man’s perspective on a conflict that continues to divide our nation.”
Review: Publishers Weekly - May 21, 2007
“He offers a welcome corrective to much of the aggressive rhetoric that has pervaded the debate over the war in Iraq.”
  • Read an interview with Aiden Delgado on the blog Intrepid Liberal Journal.
  • Read an excerpt from The Sutras of Abu Ghraib on

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The Sutras of Abu Ghraib

ISBN: 978-080707270-7
Publication Date: 8/1/2007
Pages: 224
Size:5.5 x 8.5
Price:  $24.95
Format: Cloth
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