Manchester launch for Leila Khaled biography

And in a move to break with the usual London-centrism of the publishing industry etc etc… the first launch event for the Leila Khaled biography will be in Manchester at Blackwell’s University Bookshop on Oxford Road, from 7pm on Thursday 24th May. All welcome. More details here.

Pluto Books spring/summer 2012 catalogue out now

Pluto Books’ new spring/summer 2012 catalogue is now out and available here. In it, Nicholas Blincoe says of ‘Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation’ that “Sarah Irving provides a fine portrayal of a compelling and mysterious figure from a tumultuous period in Palestinian history, mixing biography and historical critique to deliver a valuable insight into Leila Khaled’s character as well as her extraordinary appeal as a revolutionary icon”.

29th August, 1969

Today’s date is one that looms large in Leila Khaled’s life story – that of her first aeroplane hijacking, on 29th August 1969. It’s celebrated on Dorian Cope’s ‘On This Deity’ website here. Khaled described her experience of the hijacking in her autobiography, My People Shall Live, ghost-written by George Hajjar and in a range of interviews.

Background research

As well as the interviews I did with Leila Khaled and a range of other Palestinians from all walks of life, I also read widely around the events of Leila Khaled’s life. Although written work on Khaled herself is surprisingly rare, there is a reasonable body of analytical work on the secular Palestinian resistance movements of the 1970s and 80s. There is also a copious amount of scholarly (and not-so-scholarly) writing on the relationship between women, armed struggle, national liberation movements and feminism. There are specialist titles on aviation security and hijacking, and some deeply unpleasant but nonetheless revealing pulp titles which revel with almost pornographic delight in terrorism, whilst professing to despise it. And so on. The easiest way to list a range of these books in a way that includes bibliographic data and an idea of whether they are still available seems to be to construct an Amazon list, which is here.

About this website

In September 2008 I visited Leila Khaled in her Amman home to conduct a series of interviews for a biography of this fascinating woman, to be published – probably in 2012 – by Pluto Press. In the course of researching the book, I found innumerable interviews, articles, books and photos of or about her, but a surprisingly small amount of information that went beyond the focus on her 1969 and 1970 hijackings. I also found a lot of people who seemed to want to know more. I hope this site – which is really just a hub for lots of other links – will provide some of that information, at least until my more comprehensive biography comes out. If there’s anything you think is missing from the site, or which is incorrect, please get in touch via my website.

Please note that this website is a work in progress and will fill up slowly (not too slowly, I hope). I’ve started with the pages that I have the most easily added material for, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for do please come back.