Dragon tales circulating at Guantánamo

Some captives this summer at Guantánamo’s prison camps have been reading about dragons, both a Viking tale for boys and the one that’s tattooed on the girl.

09/15/2011 5:00 AM

09/28/2014 2:44 AM

If circulation at the detention center library is an indicator, captives are keeping busy in their cellblocks with Captain America comics, Westerns, self-help books and video games.

Titles just back from the camps during a recent visit included: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” and “The Cardinal Principles of Islam” along with books of Arab poetry and proverb.

Detainees also checked out “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” in English, and its sequel “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest” — in Russian.

“True Grit” just got back from the camps, too, and “they’ve begun asking about Western movies,” explained the librarian, a civilian Defense Department contractor who will only give her first name, Rosario.

Westerns for the 171 captive Muslims who’d been scooped up in the war on terror?

“John Wayne kind of stuff,” she said.

Harry Potter seems to have run its course. Now “How to Train Your Dragon,” is emerging as a bestseller. The nine-book series aimed at elementary school kids tells the story of a scrawny Viking boy and his extraordinarily small dragon.

Rosario reported surging interest in hand-held video game that tests their skills. “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?,” in English, is a quiz game and several handheld gardening games let players plant crops against a clock.

The library boasts that it has 24,000 titles — 17,000 of them books and the rest DVDs, magazines and newspapers. Religious books are among the most circulating, she said.

The emphasis has long been Arabic, in part because that’s the predominant language in the camps. But International Committee of the Red Cross delegates arranged for delivery of two Pashtu newspapers. So Rosario has the guard staff circulating those, too.

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About Carol Rosenberg

Carol Rosenberg


Carol Rosenberg reports on Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the place, policy, people, war court.

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