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SURVIVING DREAMLAND is a historical fiction novel by Bill Penoyar based on what he observed during his time in Iraq with the US Agency for International Development. While in country, he assisted the U.S. reconstruction efforts in Anbar, Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil Provinces and also served as the USAID adviser for the Regional Threat Team, Strategic Operations Directorate, in support of the United States Forces-Iraq J3 Directorate.

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Uday Hussein was the ace of hearts in the US military’s deck of playing cards tha t was provided to the soldiers soon after the second war with Iraq began in 2003. Uday was known by everyone in Iraq as a murderous thug who learned his trade from his father, Saddam. His tyrannical career began with his first killing when he was in college, and his deadly ways continued remorselessly throughout his life.

This historical novel follows both the tragic events that preceded Operation Iraqi Freedom and the courageous life and times of Lara. Born in Mosul, Iraq, and raised in Michigan as an all-American girl, Lara becomes entrapped in the evil grasp of Uday and his henchmen.

Surviving Dreamland is a thrilling story that captures the hard-boiled realities of living under a brutal authoritarian regime and the terror of being caught in a helpless situation when war looms and the bombs begin to fall. Lara’s triumphant survival and her tip to the US special operators succeedes in assuring the demise of two of the top three most-wanted killers during the early days of the Iraq war.

Convincing in its accuracy of detail and thought provoking, Surviving Dreamland races through the frequently fatal dangers that the Iraqi people faced while living under Saddam Hussein and his Ba’athist regime. It is a story of survival and bravery, but also a story of tragedy and the resilience of the human spirit.


Meet the Author: Bill Penoyar 

Bill Penoyar worked for the US Agency for International Development in Iraq during 2009–2010. He assisted the US reconstruction efforts in Anbar, Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil Provinces during his fifteen months in country.

He also served as the USAID adviser for the Regional Threat Team, Strategic Operations Directorate at Camp Victory near the Baghdad Airport, in support of the United States Forces-Iraq J3 Directorate from August 2009 – April 2010. Bill was working with the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team and US Marines at the Forward Operating Base, Camp Baharia near the Anbar provincial town of Fallujah in 2009.  It was hear he learned about the rumors of Uday Hussein’s activities at the former palatial lake resort that was located in the same area prior to the war. Surviving Dreamland… was inspired by these stories and what Bill saw there. The novel began as a creative outlet to while away time in his small container housing unit room when he wasn’t working with his ePRT colleagues and marines.

Many of the characters represented in Surviving Dreamland were based on Iraqi, Iraqi-American, and US military colleagues whom he worked with or met in the course of his work. The description of locations which he wrote about were influenced by what he observed while traveling around the country. Some of the characters were also inspired by an Iraqi family whom Bill met while working in Iraq and sponsored when they immigrated to the United States.

Bill worked in international development for more than 30 years and in more than twenty countries on short- or long-term assignments as a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. When home was far away, he wrote for enjoyment and, hopefully, for the entertainment or enlightenment of others. On the Road with a Foreign Service Officer was published as an e-book with Amazon in 2014.  Prior to his Foreign Service life,  FEDSPEAK: U.S.Contracting and Grantsmanship Made Easier was published and had limited distribution in 1985.