100 books like The Iran-Iraq War

By Williamson Murray,

Here are 100 books that The Iran-Iraq War fans have personally recommended if you like The Iran-Iraq War. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Elusive Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1974

Kenneth M. Pollack Author Of Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness

From my list on Middle East military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

After college I joined the CIA. They assigned me to the Iran-Iraq military account so I had a front-row seat for the Persian Gulf War. I went on to do two tours at the NSC and a quick stop at DoD in between, all working on Middle East political and security issues. I was unexpectedly thrown out by Bush II in 2001 and so had to flee to the think tank world. I’ve since written ten books on the political-military affairs of the Middle East and am now working on my eleventh, a history of the U.S. and Iraq since 1979 titled The Iraq Wars.

Kenneth's book list on Middle East military history

Kenneth M. Pollack Why did Kenneth love this book?

You cannot understand the military history of the Middle East without understanding the first five Arab-Israeli wars and over 40 years later the best book on the subject remains Dupuy’s touchstone work. Dupuy was a superb military analyst and historian. As an American he is about as even-handed as anyone can be with this ultimate of “Rorschach” tests. Better still, Dupuy extensively interviewed nearly all of the major political and military leaders on both sides of every war. He walked the ground of most of these battles with the combatants themselves. It is why his book remains the single best work on the subject and the foundation on which all later histories rest.

Book cover of On the Banks of the Suez: Israeli General's Personal Account of the Yom Kippur War

Kenneth M. Pollack Author Of Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness

From my list on Middle East military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

After college I joined the CIA. They assigned me to the Iran-Iraq military account so I had a front-row seat for the Persian Gulf War. I went on to do two tours at the NSC and a quick stop at DoD in between, all working on Middle East political and security issues. I was unexpectedly thrown out by Bush II in 2001 and so had to flee to the think tank world. I’ve since written ten books on the political-military affairs of the Middle East and am now working on my eleventh, a history of the U.S. and Iraq since 1979 titled The Iraq Wars.

Kenneth's book list on Middle East military history

Kenneth M. Pollack Why did Kenneth love this book?

While Ariel Sharon is the best-known Israeli armor commander, Bren Adan was probably the best. This book is his memoir of commanding one of the most important—and most successful—Israeli armored divisions during the 1973 October War (the Yom Kippur or Ramadan war). It is an outstanding first-hand account of armored combat in the Sinai in the late 20th Century by one of its finest practitioners. Adan’s book is also distinguished by his ruthless honesty in pointing out his own mistakes as well as those of the larger Israel Defense Forces. As one of my mentors once put it to me, ‘everything I know about commanding an armored division I learned from Adan’s book.’

By Avraham Adan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Banks of the Suez as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Text: English, Hebrew (translation)


Book cover of The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran

Kenneth M. Pollack Author Of Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness

From my list on Middle East military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

After college I joined the CIA. They assigned me to the Iran-Iraq military account so I had a front-row seat for the Persian Gulf War. I went on to do two tours at the NSC and a quick stop at DoD in between, all working on Middle East political and security issues. I was unexpectedly thrown out by Bush II in 2001 and so had to flee to the think tank world. I’ve since written ten books on the political-military affairs of the Middle East and am now working on my eleventh, a history of the U.S. and Iraq since 1979 titled The Iraq Wars.

Kenneth's book list on Middle East military history

Kenneth M. Pollack Why did Kenneth love this book?

David Crist is the historian of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff—and the son of former CENTCOM Commander, General George B. Crist.  He knows this subject backwards and forwards and brings to light any number of topics that I had only ever seen discussed in the classified world. But he does so with the perspicacity of a military historian and the insight of a superb military analyst. Most people simply do not know about the many close calls and bloody clashes there were between the U.S. and Iran during this era, and Crist’s book fills that important gap. Moreover, this is a fascinating example of a protracted, low-intensity or “hybrid” conflict with a canny and determined foe and so it has no end of lessons to teach. 

By David Crist,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twilight War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing newsbreaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open war

For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told.

This surreptitious war began with the Iranian revolution and simmers today inside Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. Fights rage in the shadows, between the CIA and its network of spies and Iran's intelligence agency. Battles are fought at…


Book cover of The U.S. Army in the Iraq War Volume 1: Invasion Insurgency Civil War 2003 – 2006

Kenneth M. Pollack Author Of Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness

From my list on Middle East military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

After college I joined the CIA. They assigned me to the Iran-Iraq military account so I had a front-row seat for the Persian Gulf War. I went on to do two tours at the NSC and a quick stop at DoD in between, all working on Middle East political and security issues. I was unexpectedly thrown out by Bush II in 2001 and so had to flee to the think tank world. I’ve since written ten books on the political-military affairs of the Middle East and am now working on my eleventh, a history of the U.S. and Iraq since 1979 titled The Iraq Wars.

Kenneth's book list on Middle East military history

Kenneth M. Pollack Why did Kenneth love this book?

This is the first volume of the U.S. Army’s official two-volume history of the Iraq War, from 2003 to 2006. They are big and long, but if you are serious about military history or the Middle East, you owe it to yourself to read them. If you do, you will be richly rewarded. Like the famous U.S. Army “Green Books” of World War II, The U.S. Army in the Iraq War is magnificent. You could not imagine that a government product could be so gracefully written, so wise, and so insightful. Together, the two volumes cover the entire span of the conflict, brilliantly explaining what happened and why, and providing a new and comprehensive understanding of one of America’s longest and most important conflicts.  

By Joel D. Rayburn, Frank K. Sobchak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The U.S. Army in the Iraq War Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Iraq War has been the costliest U.S. conflict since the Vietnam War. To date, few official studies have been conducted to review what happened, why it happened, and what lessons should be drawn. This publication, The U.S. Army in the Iraq War Volume 1: Invasion Insurgency Civil War 2003 – 2006, is the Army’s initial operational level analysis of this conflict, written in narrative format, with assessments and lessons embedded throughout the work. This study reviews the conflict from a Landpower perspective and includes the contributions of coalition allies, the U.S. Marine Corps, and special operations forces. Presented principally…


Book cover of 1001 Nights in Iraq: The Shocking Story of an American Forced to Fight for Saddam Against the Country He Loves

Bob Zeidman Author Of Election Hacks: Zeidman v. Lindell: Exposing the $5 million election myth

From my list on little-known books about historical events.

Why am I passionate about this?

In school, I was a math and science nerd but also loved to write. I got good grades, except in history; memorizing dates and events was boring. My dad loved history. When he told stories about historical figures, I was fascinated. In twelfth grade, my history teacher told stories like my dad, and I started acing the class. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with history and devour good historical books, particularly when they focus on the people who change history. And now, I’ve actually been in places at times when history was made. 

Bob's book list on little-known books about historical events

Bob Zeidman Why did Bob love this book?

In 1980, Shant Kenderian’s father was dying in Iraq, so he decided to fly there from the U.S. for one last visit. While there, the Iran-Iraq war broke out, and Saddam Hussein conscripted this U.S. citizen into the army like many unprepared Iraqis who were just bodies to throw in the way of Iranian troops. When Operation Desert Storm started, rather than retreating, Shant decided to make his way to the front lines to surrender to his fellow Americans.

I love this true story of desperation and courage from an ordinary person thrust into an extraordinary situation, struggling against authoritarian forces to make his way back to America and freedom while dodging bombs and bullets from all sides. I found this true story to be as exciting as any spy novel.

By Shant Kenderian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1001 Nights in Iraq as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shant Kenderian was a schoolboy in Baghdad, growing up in the Armenian Christian community there. His parents divorced, and in 1978, at age 14, he chose to emigrate to America with his mother and brother. Just before his 17th birthday, he returned to visit his father in Baghdad, arriving on Sept. 14, 1980. One week later, Iraq invaded Iran, the borders were closed and Shant was trapped. His father died soon after in a car accident and he would not see America again for more than 10 years.

Shant continued his education and earned a degree in Engineering. Upon graduating…


Book cover of Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

Nicholas Jubber Author Of Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe

From my list on the greatest epics from around the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nicholas Jubber has written for the Guardian, Irish Times and Telegraph, amongst other publications. He has won the Dolman Travel Book Award, for which he has been shortlisted three times, and his books have been picked by National Geographic, Wanderlust and the New York Times, amongst other publications, for their books of the year.

Nicholas' book list on the greatest epics from around the world

Nicholas Jubber Why did Nicholas love this book?

Thousands of years and fifty reigns are dramatised in this chronicle of sixty thousand verses. Set down in the eleventh century by an engagingly grumpy Persian poet who enjoyed the odd cup of wine and fretted about his finances. In the process, he saved (as some would have it) the Persian language and culture. The resonance of his tales has endured down the centuries: traveling in Iran, I met artists who used the story of a snake-shouldered tyrant who gobbles the brains of young men as a parable for the inter-generational tensions of the mullahcracy and the trauma of the Iran-Iraq War; whilst the romance of a beautiful long-haired princess and her tower-climbing lover is the earliest recorded iteration of ‘Rapunzel’.

Which version to read: The nineteenth-century Warner brothers produced an atmospheric full translation, but for a more modern abridgment, I’d recommend The Epic of the Kings, translated by Reuben…

By Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Reuben Levy (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shahnameh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

....


Book cover of The Colonel

Eric Lob Author Of Iran's Reconstruction Jihad: Rural Development and Regime Consolidation after 1979

From my list on Iranian history, politics, and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of politics and international relations with a focus on Iran. My passion for the country started while studying Persian or Farsi with an exceptional professor in graduate school. During that time, I had the privilege of traveling to Iran three times to study the language and conduct research on rural politics. This period coincided with the Green Movement uprising, a pivotal moment in the country. Since then, I have been enthralled by Iranian history, politics, and culture. Their richness and complexity make it a subject that can be studied and appreciated for a lifetime.              

Eric's book list on Iranian history, politics, and culture

Eric Lob Why did Eric love this book?

This novel was banned in Iran and published outside of it by a renowned Iranian author who grew up in a village and moved to Tehran, where he became a prominent writer and political prisoner. It lends a surreal and personal perspective to the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War – the two most dramatic and formative events in the Islamic Republic’s forty-year existence. It tells the haunting and heart-wrenching story of an unnamed and disgraced former army colonel, who futilely tries to keep his mind intact and his family together during this tumultuous period. The novel poignantly demonstrates how the revolution and war tore individuals and their loved ones apart to the point of madness and death. It is a microcosm of the deep-seated dissonance and disillusionment that Iranians have experienced over aspirational nationalism and piety, on one side, and endemic fragmentation and repression, on the other. A difficult…

By Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, Tom Patterdale (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Colonel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2013 Jan Michalski Prize
Longlististed for the Man Asian Literary Prize

A new novel by the master of Iranian letters that directly engages politics in Iran today
 
Ten years in the writing, this fearless novel—so powerful it’s banned in Iran—tells the stirring story of a tortured people forced to live under successive oppressive regimes.
 
It begins on a pitch black, rainy night, when there’s a knock on the Colonel’s door. Two policemen have come to summon him to collect the tortured body of his youngest daughter. The Islamic Revolution is devouring its own children. Set over the…


Book cover of The Oil Wars Myth: Petroleum and the Causes of International Conflict

Robert Vitalis Author Of Oilcraft: The Myths of Scarcity and Security That Haunt U.S. Energy Policy

From my list on crazy things we believe on oil and world politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with the relationship between the United States and the Middle East since my freshman year at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where I began as a commuter, stuck in gasoline lines, during the “energy crisis” in the fall of 1973, and where I was among the first SUNY students to study abroad in Egypt after the United States resumed diplomatic relations. I wrote my dissertation on Egypt’s economic development (When Capitalists Collide: Business Conflict and the End of Empire in Egypt, 1995) and have been teaching and writing about U.S. involvement in the region for 35 years.

Robert's book list on crazy things we believe on oil and world politics

Robert Vitalis Why did Robert love this book?

I am recommending Emily Meireding’s book for two reasons. First, there may be readers who are put off by what one reviewer calls my own “engaged,” “conversational,” and “off-the-cuff” style, and who are more likely to trust in a more conventional, scholarly text. Oil Wars Myth, by a professor who teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School, no less, confirms much of what I argue in my book. The second reason is because Professor Meireding’s findings surprised her, given our commonsense beliefs about countries routinely going to war over the stuff.

By Emily Meierding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oil Wars Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do countries fight wars for oil? Given the resource's exceptional military and economic importance, most people assume that states will do anything to obtain it. Challenging this conventional wisdom, The Oil Wars Myth reveals that countries do not launch major conflicts to acquire petroleum resources. Emily Meierding argues that the costs of foreign invasion, territorial occupation, international retaliation, and damage to oil company relations deter even the most powerful countries from initiating "classic oil wars." Examining a century of interstate violence, she demonstrates that, at most, countries have engaged in mild sparring to advance their petroleum ambitions.

The Oil Wars…


Book cover of The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East

Sarah C. Melville Author Of The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721–705 B.C.

From my list on introducing the ancient Near East.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the ancient Near East began when I was about 8 years old. One day, when couldn’t find anything to do, I started paging through a book on Assyrian art that I found in one of my parents’ bookcases. I was hooked. I wanted to know what made those mysterious ancients tick. How did they understand the world they inhabited? How did they live? What made them fight so hard and so often? I became an Assyriologist in order to answer those questions, and I’ve been working toward that goal ever since.

Sarah's book list on introducing the ancient Near East

Sarah C. Melville Why did Sarah love this book?

The atlas introduces the reader to Near Eastern geography, history, and culture, and it complements the other books included here. Roaf maps (literally and figuratively) the various cultures of the Near East during ancient times. His commentary is interesting and the maps beautifully produced, easy to interpret, and accurate. They cover a wide range of data including climate and environment, natural resources, linguistic and cultural information, trade routes, and the territories of different polities. Take some time to explore the atlas; you will not regret it.

By Michael Roaf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An exploration into the geography, history, archaeology and anthropology of the Near East from pre-history to 330 BC. Coverage includes early farming, the move towards civilization, the urban explosion, warring states, trade, international empires and conquerors from East and West.


Book cover of Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village

Teresa Fava Thomas Author Of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946–75: From Orientalism to Professionalism

From my list on Americans living and working in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

Teresa Fava Thomas, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Fitchburg State University and author of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946-75: From Orientalism to Professionalism for Anthem Press. I became interested in people who became area experts for the US State Department and how their study of hard languages like Arabic shaped their interactions with people in the region.

Teresa's book list on Americans living and working in the Middle East

Teresa Fava Thomas Why did Teresa love this book?

Fernea describes a lost culture in a small Iraqi village, El Nahra, in 1956, where her husband Robert was conducting ethnographic research. She met with women in the village, learned the language and culture then wrote her own study of 1950s women. The book presents insights into the life of rural Iraqi women at a time of poverty and hardship.

By Elizabeth Warnock Fernea,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Guests of the Sheik as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A delightful account of one woman's two-year stay in a tiny rural village in Iraq, where she assumed the dress and sheltered life of a harem woman. 

"A most enjoyable book abouut [Muslim women]—simple, dignified, human, colorful, sad and humble as the life they lead." —Muhsin Mahdi, Jewett Professor of Arabic Literature, Harvard Unversity.

A wonderful, well-written, and vastly informative ethnographic study that offers a unique insight into a part of the Midddle Eastern life seldom seen by the West.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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