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Letters from Baghdad (2017)—IraqLetters from Baghdad (2017)—Iraq

This documentary film tells the fascinating story of the remarkable Gertrude Bell (1868–1926), "the female Lawrence of Arabia."  Born into a home that looks like Downton Abbey, she became an Oxford graduate, writer, traveler, ethnographer, mountaineer, political administrator, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, linguist, Arabist, and possible spy.  She's best remembered for her influence in founding the state of Iraq after World War I.  Upon her death from an overdose of sleeping pills at the age of 58, in his obituary, the British archaeologist and contemporary of Bell DG Hogarth wrote, "No woman in recent time has combined her qualities — her taste for arduous and dangerous adventure with her scientific interest and knowledge, her competence in archaeology and art, her distinguished literary gift, her sympathy for all sorts and conditions of men, her political insight and appreciation of human values, her masculine vigor, hard common sense and practical efficiency — all tempered by feminine charm and a most romantic spirit." This film gets my vote for best documentary of 2017.

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