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You may have caught the news from Iraq this morning: Baghdad book market bombed. This was the first time I had heard about Mutanabi Street, so I did a little digging and came up with some links should you want to learn more about "an ancient centre of learning and culture." It sounds like a neat place, or at least it was a neat place. I don't have the time it would take to compile more complete list, but here's some reading to get you started. There must be better stuff out there.
A Similiar Explosion apparently happened a few years ago. Gulf News has a nice report on the area; "The road attracts readers from all walks of life, even professors who usually acquire books from the university library, since there are some books which are only found here," They call it "The road to a literary world."
Violence Changes Fortunes Of Storied Baghdad Street from the Washington Post last fall, where they call it "a shadow of its revered past" Many of the original booksellers have been forced to shut down. Others have been arrested, kidnapped or killed, or have fled Iraq. "We are walking with our coffins in our hands," said Mohammad al-Hayawi, the owner of the Renaissance book store, one of the street's oldest shops. "Nothing in Iraq is guaranteed anymore."
From 2002 Historic Baghdad street hit hard by sanctions Booksellers forced to sell private collections to stave off hunger.
A radio report From NPR is 2003. They call it mostly deserted, after an explosion hit a building at the street's entrance. Cafe patrons, poets and booksellers still debate, but now it's about the U.S. military occupation.
Selling Books in Baghdad from 2003 has a little bit of history.
And one more, from Cox News, Baghdad street market starving for new books with pretty much more of the same sad news.