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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







From Baghdad to Boardrooms– My Family’s Odyssey

by Ezra K Zilkha with Ken Emerson

Self Published in 1999 by Ezra K Zilkha
No ISDN Number 253 pp

Reviewed by Anna Dangoor

'From Baghdad to Boardrooms' is an excellent book on many levels. It took me almost no time to read, entertaining me with countless anecdotes, some amusing, some insightful, and some possessing both qualities at once.

Written as a testament to the life of Khedouri Zilkha, Ezra’s father, the book is also a memoir of Ezra’s own life, charting his achievements in the business world, and also on a more personal level.

The book begins by describing how Khedouri set up the first and largest private branch banking system in the Middle East, KA Zilkha Maison de Banque. Its first branch in Baghdad, Ezra’s birthplace, was opened by Khedouri when he was only fifteen, and he went on to open other banks in Beirut, Cairo, and Alexandria. Khedouri ran his banks by a strict code of traditional business ethics, always reliable, and always true to his word. Ezra notes how when his father was starting out, much of his business was conducted simply on the strength of a person’s good reputation. This kind of practice would regrettably today be considered incredibly risky.

It is evident that the values that Khedouri stood by were passed down to Ezra. He explains how important it was to him within all his business, to preserve the excellent reputation his father had created for the Zilkha name. He also talks of his extreme fear of the shame of bankruptcy which is an admirable concern in today’s world where all too many businesses take the loss of other people’s money far too lightly.

‘From Baghdad to Boardrooms’ gives an insight into the world of business, detailing numerous deals and ventures that Ezra was involved in. He also describes vividly the huge spectrum of people and characters that he had the pleasure (or sometimes displeasure) of coming into contact with, amongst whom familiar names such as Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, and Jimmy Goldsmith crop up.

The book also sheds light on Ezra’s own character. He is an extremely self-disciplined, and principled man who bestows a great deal of respect upon those who deserve it. His Iraqi background has left its mould on his character, and its influence often appears when he quotes old Arab sayings such as, ‘show them death, and they’ll settle for sickness’. Ezra is also a very warm and loving man, and he shows great admiration and affection for his wife Cecile, and for his beloved father Khedouri in memory of whom the book is dedicated.

This book is a journey through highs, and lows, through good times, and bad times. The journey of a child, who watched his father with awe and admiration, and who is now a man himself with children of his own. By writing this book Ezra has offered you a chance to travel this journey with him, and I strongly recommend you take it.

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