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Published Reviews

Intense, historical fiction shows Iraq with ancient roots and contemporary issues. Uday and Mustafa Hussein take on roles of brutality and self interest. The USA military look for weapons of mass distruction. An Iraqi American teen visits her cousins in Iraq, only to be detained for Uday’s “pleasures “ at Dreamland. Kindness and bravery counteract authoritarian atrocities. An Iraqi neighborhood collaborates with special forces as the American forces bombard Baghdad. Many people lose their lives while other live to tell their stories. The author writes with insight and understanding. review February 3, 2019

“Surviving Dreamland” is a remarkable achievement. With a background in international development and diplomacy, Bill Penoyar has delivered a thrilling novel weaving historical facts into fiction. In the final battle between the Hussein Brothers and U.S. Special Operations, I felt like I was there with an M-4 in my hands. You will not want to put this book down.”   -Dr. Kevin A. Rushing, Deputy Team leader, embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (ePRT), Camp Baharia, Fallujah, Iraq 2008-2009.

“Surviving Dreamland is a tantalizing novel from the first page all the way to the end. The story is based on true facts that actually happened and some of the fictional content happened as well but in a different manner. I point that out only because I am an Iraqi native who knows more about these facts than others do. It is a great story!” -Lee Jacob, Advisor to the Department of State in Iraq 2008 – 2011.

“Surviving Dreamland is a harrowing tale of an Iraqi-American young lady that survived an abduction by Uday Hussein. While a work of fiction it is also steeped with fact on the lead up to and first days of the Iraq war. It gives the reader factual insight into the daily lives of Iraqis under the Saddam Hussein regime and it also salutes the accomplishments of the special operators that provided their services. I highly recommend it!” -Sean Goad, Served in Al Anbar Province, Iraq both as a U.S. Marine and State Department Diplomat for five years between ’04-’11

“Surviving Dreamland is a wonderful, powerful book. An irresistible storyteller, the author is able to hook you with his first few lines. Excellent research, and deep insights—all in a gripping read. Surviving Dreamland conveys the emotions, desires, creativity and frustrations of so many people in Iraq. This novel is based upon factual events. It is full of humanity and hope, captures some essence of the lives of men and women who were caught in the pincers of a brutal, decade-long war. Penoyar strikes the perfect balance as moving testimony to both the writer’s talent and the knowledge gained from his work in Iraq with the U.S. Army, Marines, and U.S. Agency for International Development.” -Jim Watson, Retired Diplomat, USAID

Good Reads Four Star Rating!  This book was written by an old friend of mine. I am so excited for him in getting his story published. He has incorporated actual details (along with some fictional facts) of the brutality endured by Saddam, Uday & Qusay Hussein and their Ba’athist regime…. making this a very compassionate, exciting read. This is honestly not a genre that I typically read, but I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend reading.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review: Bookerfly Press – reviewed by Priscilla Estes:  “The motivational torture continued when one or another team member displeased him on the field.”

Penoyar’s historical novel grabs you from page one with an insider’s look at the brutal reign of the Hussein family in Iraq, specifically Saddam’s sadistic son, Uday, known for kidnapping coeds from the streets of Baghdad. The main female character, Lara, an Iraqi-American who returns to Baghdad for college, is drawn into the horror through a chance encounter with the vicious Uday outside a nightclub in 2003. Her fate is Dreamland, Uday’s torture palace.

Penoyar spent time working for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Iraq during 2009-2010, quite near Dreamland. Rumors, hints, and more than a dusting of truth spawned this novelized version of events at the palace. Lara’s adventure dovetails with the riveting Operation Iraqi Freedom, a 2003 attack by America to destroy suspected weapons of mass destruction. The army’s close-knit special operations team carries out a studied covert maneuver, described with breath-holding details and heart-warming camaraderie that could only be gained from someone’s personal experience.

Penoyar conveys Iraq’s ancient history and rich tradition of close family ties, making it all the more tragic when relatives are permanently separated. Chief terrorist Uday, portrayed as an adult boy still seeking approval from his father, slides further into depravity after an assassination attempt (which really happened). A glossary of terms and list of characters aid understanding.

A despot’s rule combined with America’s Operation Iraqi Freedom change Iraq and its people forever. Hussein’s defeat leaves you wondering who the winner was. Lara, the charming protagonist, blends the best of the Middle East and the West; the surprise ending will have you on the edge of your seat.

Great book. Holds your interest from the very beginning.  I found it very informative about what was happening in Iraq. It moved along with the story quickly which is what I like.  A real page turner.

I couldn’t put this book down.

Bill, I’m an avid, serious reader. Your years of research, personal experience and the ability to put this into words resulted in a novel that I could not put down. The title, “Surviving Dreamland”, is perfect. Your family can be very proud of you. Congratulations!

Enjoyed the new book.  Very good read. THANK YOU!

Initial Reviews

  • Thanks Bill, I will read it for sure.
  • Great book!!
  • I have just started reading it, but so far it is great! I cannot wait for the film version.
  • Oh good!!!! Another book!!!! I can’t wait to read it Bill
  • I will be sure to check it out.
  • Just downloaded on my kindle. Free on kindle unlimited.
  • I just now realized that we missed each other in Iraq by one month – I left May 2009. I cannot wait to start reading your book.
  • You can get the Kindle app on your smartphone. That’s what I use.
  • Just ordered it. Looking forward to reading.
  • So awesome! I enjoyed the other book, too! Can’t wait to read this one. Congratulations.
  • I can’t wait to read it!!!
  • Read the first four chapters and really enjoying it. You can see your deep knowledge of the country and culture.