by Yassin Aref
Publication date: March 10, 2008
544 pages, paperback, photographs and photo insert
First edition of 750 copies, printed by The Troy Book Makers
After production expenses, all proceeds from sales will go to the Aref Children’s Fund, to benefit the author’s four children.
Where to purchase Son of Mountains after March 10, 2008:
or order online at http://www.bhny.com
Market Block Books, Third and River
or order online at http://www.marketblockbooks.com
or order online at http://www.thebookloft.com
Open Door Bookstore,
(in-store sales only)
Order online through The Troy Book Makers at
Order online through Amazon.com Shops: http://www.amazon.com/shops/sandave3
Search on “Son of Mountains”
“One day I was talking with one of the peshmerga commanders…who…quoted Napoleon Bonaparte, saying that ‘I am not afraid of 100 men with guns, but I am afraid of one man armed with a pen.’ Since then, I have always looked at my pen as my weapon. I consider myself a peshmerga, but I fight my battles with a pen.”
––from Chapter 4, A Student in the City
Sometimes they put innocent men in prison. Yassin Aref is one of those men.
Son of Mountains tells a story in prose and poetry that is much more
than just Yassin’s side of his arrest, conviction, and imprisonment. It’s the story
of a UN refugee who sought peace and freedom for himself and his family in
Yassin wrote Son of Mountains in five months at the
Rensselaer County Jail in
Yassin was born to illiterate farming parents in 1970 in Hashazini, a village in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. However, his was a famous family; his grandfather and uncle had been Muslim imams (religious leaders) loved and respected by thousands. As a teenager, he sympathized with the Kurdish peshmerga (freedom fighters) and risked his life opposing the dictator’s genocide against the Kurds.
1995, Yassin married and made the wrenching decision to leave his beloved
of Mountains is divided
into five parts, each subdivided by chapters and stories. The book runs
chronologically, beginning in Iraqi Kurdistan with stories of Yassin’s family,
childhood, young adulthood, and marriage, all set against the backdrop of the
oppression of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Yassin describes surviving the Anfal
operation (the Kurdish genocide) in 1988–1989; fleeing with other Kurds to
The story then moves to Syria, where Yassin and his family spent four years in exile (for two excerpts from Part 2, Syria, click here); to America and Albany, where, after 9/11, “the walls could see and hear” (for two excerpts from Part 3, America, click here); to the Rensselaer County Jail, where Yassin lived for eighteen months from 2004 to 2006 and wrote stories about his experiences and his fellow inmates; to “Beyond the Walls,” a short compilation on such topics as the teachings of Islam, human rights, Martin Luther King, social justice, the tragedy of Iraq, the dream of Kurdish independence, and the rule of law in America. For an excerpt from Part 4, The Walls, click here.
The book concludes with an
outspoken essay by volunteer lawyer Stephen Downs that details how the
government’s case against Yassin was not a sting but a frame-up, with lives,
families, and Constitutional rights sacrificed to
By the end of this extraordinary memoir, filled with the peaceful, practical morality of Islam as well as Yassin’s lively humor, the reader will understand why he is no terrorist, and how grave an injustice has been done.