The most recommended Iraq books

Who picked these books? Meet our 60 experts.

60 authors created a book list connected to Iraq, and here are their favorite Iraq books.
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What type of Iraq book?


Beautiful Bad

By Annie Ward,

Book cover of Beautiful Bad

Karen Hamilton Author Of The Ex-Husband

From the list on featuring transport.

Who am I?

I worked as long-haul cabin crew for many years and I love travelling. I’ve really missed being able to travel (as many have too) and I dream of the places I’ll be able to visit again soon. The Ex-Husband was the book I wrote in lockdown so I loved being able to ‘escape’ to the sunny Caribbean. I had fond memories of a trip to Barbados, so the book is mostly set there. I also travelled a lot as a child and one of my first memories is of being on a plane.

Karen's book list on featuring transport

Why did Karen love this book?

This book is rich in detail and tells the story of Maddie who is a travel writer who meets her future husband, Ian, while abroad. From the beginning during a 911 call, it’s obvious that something has gone badly wrong. This is a wonderfully written book, set in the Balkans, Iraq, and Kansas, to name a few places, and is full of tension. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. 

By Annie Ward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Ward writes with the same compelling energy as you get in a blockbuster Netflix series'
Daily Mail

'Compelling. Filled with unexpected twists... a riveting read'
Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Wife Between Us

Maddie and Ian's romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD;…

To Start a War

By Robert Draper,

Book cover of To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq

Emma Sky Author Of The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq

From the list on what the Iraq War was like for Iraqis.

Who am I?

I served in Iraq as Governorate Co-ordinator of Kirkuk for the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003-2004; and as advisor to the Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq from 2007-2010. I retain a deep love of the country and am a regular visitor. I teach about the Middle East and Global Affairs at Yale University. 

Emma's book list on what the Iraq War was like for Iraqis

Why did Emma love this book?

In To Start a War, Robert Draper investigates how it was that the US came to invade Iraq in 2003. A gifted writer, he reveals the paranoia and fear that led to the collecting of ‘intelligence’ that confirmed the biases of senior US officials – but which was often fabricated and false. 

By Robert Draper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Essential . . . one for the ages . . . a must read for all who care about presidential power." -The Washington Post

"Authoritative . . . The most comprehensive account yet of that smoldering wreck of foreign policy, one that haunts us today." -LA Times

One of BookPage's Best Books of 2020

To Start a War paints a vivid and indelible picture of a decision-making process that was fatally compromised by a combination of post-9/11 fear and paranoia, rank naivete, craven groupthink, and a set of actors with idees fixes who gamed the process relentlessly. Everything was believed;…

The Pride of Baghdad

By Brian K. Vaughan, Niko Henrichon (illustrator), Todd Klein (illustrator)

Book cover of The Pride of Baghdad

Marthese Fenech Author Of Eight Pointed Cross

From the list on demonstrating the fallout of religious conflict.

Who am I?

Frequent visits to my parents’ Maltese homeland from the time I was very young piqued my interest in the island’s opulent history. Life under the rule of the Knights of St John fascinated me most. The Maltese Islands lend themselves very well to literary descriptions—gifted with four compass points of natural beauty, the smell of the sea constant no matter how far inland one might venture, ancient temples that predate the pyramids of Egypt. It was during a pre-college trip to Malta in July 2000 that the idea to write a novel based on the Siege of 1565 took root, thanks to a visit to the Malta Experience in Valletta.

Marthese's book list on demonstrating the fallout of religious conflict

Why did Marthese love this book?

This powerful graphic novel illustrates—literally and figuratively—the many casualties of religious conflict. Set in Baghdad in 2003 and told from the perspective of a pride of lions, this book captures the struggle for survival, the loss of innocence, and the collateral damage inflicted by war. A clear allegory, this book has proven an excellent teaching tool. The Pride of Baghdad raises important questions about clashing viewpoints, loyalty, sectarian violence, the true price of war, and who, ultimately, pays it. Although narrated by four lions, the story offers a heartbreakingly realistic glimpse into Iraq during the US-led invasion, the consequences of which reverberate still. As I watch the terrible events playing out daily in Ukraine, my mind drifts back to this book, and I am reminded that past is prologue. We are witnesses right now. And may we all be on the right side of history.

By Brian K. Vaughan, Niko Henrichon (illustrator), Todd Klein (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Written by Brian K. Vaughn Art by Niko Henrichon In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escapes from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD raises questions about the true meaning of liberation - can it be given, or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live in captivity?

Agatha Christie

By Agatha Christie,

Book cover of Agatha Christie: An Autobiography

Stephen Clarke Author Of Merde at the Paris Olympics: Going for Pétanque Gold

From Stephen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Obsessive Life-loving Vegetarian Irreverent Over-optimistic (I’m a Bournemouth fan)

Stephen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Stephen love this book?

Apart from her famous disappearance and immense bibliography, I didn't know much about Agatha Christie. She writes very modestly about herself, making it seem as though you just need to sit down and start writing to produce a massive bestseller. 

She's very old-school English and plays down how she learned about poisons volunteering in the hospital pharmacy for WW1 soldiers. She also talks very simply about trekking off to Iraq alone in the 1930s and becoming one of the world's experts on Middle Eastern archeology.

But most of all, it's inspiring to get a glimpse into this woman's mind who constructed all those intricate plot twists in over 60 novels, creating a fictional world that still fascinates over a century after her first book.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Agatha Christie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Back in print in the exclusive authorized edition, is the engaging and illuminating chronicle of the life of the “Queen of Mystery.” Fans of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple and readers of John Curran’s fascinating biographies Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks and Murder in the Making will be spellbound by the compelling, authoritative account of one of the world’s most influential and fascinating novelists, told in her own words and inimitable style. The New York Times Book Review calls Christie’s autobiography a “joyful adventure,” saying, “she brings the sense of her extraordinary career.”

Book cover of Kurdish Ethno-Nationalism versus Nation-Building States: Collected Articles

Ceren Sengül Author Of Customized Forms of Kurdishness in Turkey: State Rhetoric, Locality, and Language Use

From the list on the relationship between Turkey and Kurds.

Who am I?

I have always been interested in political and social events around me, and being from Turkey, it was inevitable not to be surrounded by the news of the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK that has been going on for decades. However, perhaps due to being a member of the non-Muslim minority community of Turkey myself, I have always been interested in the ‘non-mainstream’ explanations of a state-ethnic group conflict. This interest in alternative explanations led me to study an MSc in Nationalism Studies and to a PhD in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, with the focus of my thesis being Kurdishness in Turkey. 

Ceren's book list on the relationship between Turkey and Kurds

Why did Ceren love this book?

It is safe to say that this book was like a holy book to me when I was doing my MSc and during my early PhD years.

Martin van Bruinessen is a scholar that everyone who has an interest in Kurdish studies should be familiar with, and this book, which is a collection of his earlier articles, is a good introduction to get acquainted with Kurds and their history.

Even though the articles in this book date back to the 1980s and to the 1990s, it is a classic book for those who want to familiarise themselves with Kurds.

The articles here are not only about Kurds of Turkey but also those of Iran and Iraq. 

By Martin van Bruinessen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kurdish Ethno-Nationalism versus Nation-Building States as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of articles by Martin van Bruinessen on Kurds, Kurdish history and identity from the perspective of nationalism and nation-building in the Middle East.

The Rope

By Kanan Makiya,

Book cover of The Rope

Emma Sky Author Of The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq

From the list on what the Iraq War was like for Iraqis.

Who am I?

I served in Iraq as Governorate Co-ordinator of Kirkuk for the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003-2004; and as advisor to the Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq from 2007-2010. I retain a deep love of the country and am a regular visitor. I teach about the Middle East and Global Affairs at Yale University. 

Emma's book list on what the Iraq War was like for Iraqis

Why did Emma love this book?

Kanan is an Iraqi exile who was very supportive of the US invasion of Iraq. In The Rope, he provides a fictional account of what happened in the country, placing responsibility for the rise of sectarianism and the descent into civil war at the feet of Iraqi Shia leaders. It’s a brave and honest book. 

By Kanan Makiya,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the best-selling author of Republic of Fear, here is a gritty and unflinching novel about Iraqi failure in the wake of the 2003 American invasion, as seen through the eyes of a Shi‘ite militiaman whose participation in the execution of Saddam Hussein changes his life in ways he could never have anticipated.
When the nameless narrator stumbles upon a corpse on April 10, 2003, the day of the fall of Saddam Hussein, he finds himself swept up in the tumultuous politics of the American occupation and is taken on a journey that concludes with the discovery of what happened…

Book cover of You Know When the Men Are Gone

John A. Nagl Author Of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

From the list on the exorbitant cost of America’s War in Iraq.

Who am I?

I am a retired Army officer who served in a tank unit in Operation Desert Storm. After that war, I became convinced that the future of warfare looked more like America’s experience in Vietnam than like the war in which I had just fought. I taught at West Point and then served in another tank unit early in the war in Iraq before being sent to the Pentagon where I helped Generals David Petraeus and Jim Mattis write the Army and Marine Corps doctrine for counterinsurgency campaigns. I am now studying and teaching about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a professor at the U.S. Army War College.  

John's book list on the exorbitant cost of America’s War in Iraq

Why did John love this book?

Wars change the societies in which they are fought, but they also profoundly affect the home front. Fallon’s collection of short stories examines the impact of the war in Iraq on America with a particular focus on the families of those serving in America’s most complicated and divisive war since Vietnam. You Know When the Men are Gone is honest, empathetic, and informed by the experience of being the wife of a soldier deployed in harm’s way, when every phone call or knock on the door causes your heart to stop. Even if they come home physically unharmed by war, all is not necessarily well.

By Siobhan Fallon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Know When the Men Are Gone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Gripping, straight-up, no-nonsense stories about American soldiers and their families. . . simple, tough, and true.”—The New York Times

“Prose that's brave and honest.”—People

“Terrific. . . and terrifically illuminating.”—The Washington Post

An award-winning story collection from the author of The Confusion of Languages.

Through fiction of dazzling skill and astonishing emotional force, Siobhan Fallon welcomes readers into the American army base at Fort Hood, Texas, where U.S. soldiers prepare to fight, and where their families are left to cope after the men are gone. They’ll meet a wife who discovers unsettling secrets when she hacks into her husband’s email,…

The Occupation of Iraq

By Ali A. Allawi,

Book cover of The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace

Khalil F. Osman Author Of Sectarianism in Iraq: The Making of State and Nation Since 1920

From the list on sectarianism in the Middle East.

Who am I?

I’ve had a diverse work experience, having taught political science, and worked as a journalist and UN official. My interest in sectarianism in the Arab world grew from my work as a journalist covering Middle Eastern and Iraqi affairs and as a UN official in Iraq. Working in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion, I witnessed firsthand how the sectarian violence that gripped Iraq highlighted the failure of social integration in nurturing a national identity. Scholarly work on sectarianism in the region was focused on Lebanon. In addressing this scholarly gap, I combined my academic training in political science, extensive knowledge of Islamic history, and decades-long fieldwork and life experiences in the region.

Khalil's book list on sectarianism in the Middle East

Why did Khalil love this book?

Ali Allawi has served as minister in several cabinets in post-2003 Iraq. His book provides fascinating insider details on the chaotic world of politics that pushed post-Saddam Iraq into an inferno of sectarianism, insurgency, terrorism, and incessant political crises. Allawi’s definitive history of the invasion of Iraq and its immediate aftermath is rich in detail, insightful in its observations, and candid and dispassionate in its analysis. The book leaves the reader with a sense of foreboding about the ability of Iraqi leaders to extricate the country from the vicious cycle of crises it has lurched into since 2003. Above all, this is a narrative of the agonies of a fragmented nation, devoid of a unifying collective identity, mired in political stalemate, burdened by the past, and unsure about its future.

By Ali A. Allawi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A comprehensive account of the occupation of Iraq and the crises that have followed in its wake, told for the first time by an Iraqi insider

Involved for over thirty years in the politics of Iraq, Ali A. Allawi was a long-time opposition leader against the Baathist regime. In the post-Saddam years he has held important government positions and participated in crucial national decisions and events. In this book, the former Minister of Defense and Finance draws on his unique personal experience, extensive relationships with members of the main political groups and parties in Iraq, and deep understanding of the…

Book cover of Take What You Can Carry

Alesa Lightbourne Author Of The Kurdish Bike

From the list on the Kurds and their world.

Who am I?

Like the main character in my book, I went to Kurdish Iraq as a well-meaning (but admittedly naive) teacher, and fell in love with the Kurdish people and their culture. To be more specific, it was village women I really bonded with. Listening to their stories, and watching them try to cope with so many practical restrictions, tore at my heart. Part of me wanted to “liberate” them from the seemingly outdated traditions that held them back. Simultaneously, I couldn’t help but envy them for the solaces their tight community offered them -- and which Western society denied me. Rather than claiming to be an expert on Kurds, I am now someone who studies them with the greatest respect. The humble Kurdish villagers gave me moral examples that I wish every Westerner could be fortunate enough to have.

Alesa's book list on the Kurds and their world

Why did Alesa love this book?

A Californian woman travels to Iraq to visit her Kurdish boyfriend’s family. It’s during Saddam Hussein’s regime, when just being a Kurd can get you tortured or imprisoned. The author perfectly captures the smells, sounds and cultural details that fascinate a Western newcomer to Kurdistan -- including markets, weddings, dancing, and foods. All is not what it appears, however, and murky secrets lurk beneath the smiling faces. Like most books about Kurds, this one is disturbing in parts. But the romantic subplot keeps you turning pages. It also has great insights into the complexity of cross-cultural relationships, both pros and cons.

By Gian Sardar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Take What You Can Carry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An aspiring photographer follows her dreams and faces her fears in a poignant novel about finding beauty, promise, and love amid the chaos of war-torn Kurdistan.

It's 1979. Olivia Murray, a secretary at a Los Angeles newspaper, is determined to become a photojournalist and make a difference with her work. When opportunity arrives, she seizes it, accompanying her Kurdish boyfriend, Delan, to northern Iraq for a family wedding, hoping to capture an image that lands her a job in the photo department. More important, though, the trip is a chance to understand Delan's childhood and bridge the differences of their…

Generation Kill

By Evan Wright,

Book cover of Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Ice Man, Captain America, and the New Face of American War

Jerry Stahl Author Of Nein, Nein, Nein!: One Man's Tale of Depression, Psychic Torment, and a Bus Tour of the Holocaust

From the list on turning insane personal history into entertainment.

Who am I?

Jerry Stahl is an American novelist and screenwriter. His latest release, Nein, Nein, Nein! One Man’s Tale of Depression, Psychis Torment, and a Bus Tour of the Holocaust relieves Stahl’s group tour to concentration camps in Poland and Germany. He has written a number of novels including Perv: A Love Story, Plainclothes Naked, I, Fatty, Pain Killers, Bad Sex on Speed, and Happy Mutant Baby Pills: A NovelStahl got this start publishing short fiction, winning a Pushcart Prize in 1976 for a story in the Transatlantic Review. His 1995 memoir Permanent Midnight was adapted into a film starring Ben Stiller as well as the screenplay for Bad Boys II, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

Jerry's book list on turning insane personal history into entertainment

Why did Jerry love this book?

Technically the reportage of a Rolling Stone writer embedded with Marines 2002, Evan Wright’s first-person account of young men at war is, in some ways, as much a story of the author’s experience of W’s nation building as it the story of the soldiers themselves. Wright earned the respect of the men he rolled with by riding on point, or in the lead vehicle, where he was sure to take enemy fire. It’s his description of what drove him to face such danger that makes the writer at once relatable and brave: “Partly it was about not losing face. I reverted to like, a twelve-year-old on the playground. I wouldn’t back down. And there were times when I knew we’d be shot at, and I’d fantasize about getting taken out of being embedded. But then I’d make it through and not be injured, and I’d be flooded with this deep…

By Evan Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on Evan Wright's National Magazine Award-winning story in Rolling Stone, this is the raw, firsthand account of the 2003 Iraq invasion that inspired the HBO (R) original mini-series.

Within hours of 9/11, America's war on terrorism fell to those like the twenty-three Marines of the First Recon Battalion, the first generation dispatched into open-ended combat since Vietnam. They were a new pop-culture breed of American warrior unrecognizable to their forebears-soldiers raised on hip hop, video games and The Real World. Cocky, brave, headstrong, wary and mostly unprepared for the physical, emotional and moral horrors ahead, the "First Suicide Battalion"…

Fallen From Babel

By T.L Higley,

Book cover of Fallen From Babel

Randy C. Dockens Author Of Mercy of the Iron Scepter

From the list on biblical prophecy in fiction format.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by science fiction and by Biblical Scripture. That may seem dichotomous to some, but not to me. I have a passion for science and for Scripture because both bring understanding about our world from the microcosm to the macrocosm. My writings are a mixture of science and mystery with a science fiction feel and a Christian perspective. I like stories that show how truth arises even from the dark, confusing, and ambiguity of life to help one discover something about God they may not have considered before, and at the same time enjoy a fun, fast-paced, and exciting journey as they read.

Randy's book list on biblical prophecy in fiction format

Why did Randy love this book?

A man is teleported from modern times to ancient Babylon when he touches an artifact in a museum. While a lot of the Biblical narrative is not covered, it does allow one to really get a feel of what ancient Babylon would have been like and allows one to almost be a part of that culture. A truly intriguing storyline.

By T.L Higley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Peter Thornton doesn’t believe in God.

Or rather, he doesn’t believe in one God. “All paths are valid,” he teaches his university students.

One evening he ventures to the archaeology museum and touches an artifact recently discovered from ancient Babylon.

At the touch he is transported three thousand years back in time to Old Testament Babylon.

Somehow the people know him as Rim-Sin, sorcerer and high priest to the gods of Babylon. The moment he arrives he is accused of murder—a murder Rim-Sin committed—and he must run for his life.

Against the backdrop of Nebuchadnezzar’s court at its zenith, he…

Another Good Dog

By Cara Sue Achterberg,

Book cover of Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs

Teresa J. Rhyne Author Of Poppy in the Wild: A Lost Dog, Fifteen Hundred Acres of Wilderness, and the Dogged Determination that Brought Her Home

From the list on rescue dogs.

Who am I?

I’ve been passionate about dogs and rescue dogs in particular since I got my first little rescue pup for Christmas when I was six years old. Tippy, a perfect blend of poodle and cocker spaniel, lived until my second year of law school. I’ve volunteered with several rescue organizations, transported dogs, fostered dogs, adopted dogs, and, oh, I also wrote three books about rescue dogs. Dogs are my passion, and books are a very close second, so naturally, dog books are kind of my thing. I hope you love these books as much as I do.

Teresa's book list on rescue dogs

Why did Teresa love this book?

Fostering dogs is an important part of dog rescue, and Achterberg perfectly captures the joy and heartbreak of fostering. Her devotion to dogs became her family’s shared passion, which beautifully demonstrates how when we rescue dogs, they rescue us in return.

I love how the author unabashedly allowed the reader in to see not just the fluffy puppies and cuteness, but the hard work, the mistakes, the difficulties, and ultimately the “how and why” of the important work of fostering. Fostering saves lives, and Another Good Dog is a brilliant testimony to this fact.

By Cara Sue Achterberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Cara felt her teenaged children slipping away and saw an empty nest on the horizon, she decided the best way to fill that void was with dogs-lots of them-and so her foster journey began.

In 2015, her Pennsylvania farm became a haven for Operation Paws for Homes. There were the nine puppies at once, which arrived with less than a day's notice; a heart- worm positive dog; a deeply traumatized stray pup from Iraq; and countless others who just needed a gentle touch and a warm place to sleep. Operation Paws for Homes rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in…

Book cover of The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq

Andrea Rugh Author Of Egyptian Advice Columnists: Envisioning the Good Life in an Era of Extremism

From the list on how culture influences Middle Eastern history.

Who am I?

From over three decades of work on development projects in countries of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Africa, I am convinced that when efforts fail, it is invariably because we lack the cultural understanding of what people want or how we provide it. These books all reinforce my point by either underlining the way culture shapes the way people see the world or by showing how when we neglect culture, we do so at our own peril. Culture can be discovered through multiple entry points with these books offering a good start. Even something as mundane as advice columns in newspapers offer political insights when plumbed for the meanings below the surface.

Andrea's book list on how culture influences Middle Eastern history

Why did Andrea love this book?

In 2003 Stewart was appointed deputy governor of Amara and then later Nasiriya, both provinces in the remote southern marsh areas of Iraq. His job was to offer reconstruction resources and bring a semblance of order to their civilian government after coalition forces overthrew Saddam Hussein. What he found was two very different kinds of reactions to his advice by the local population. When he returned to see the results of their community-building efforts much later, he was surprised to find that the most contentious group had made the greatest progress. His narrative reminds us that cultures have sub-groups with variations in the way they respond to various sets of conditions. Accepting assistance passively from an outsider rather than negotiating differences upfront can result in a flawed implementation.

By Rory Stewart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An adventurous diplomat’s “engrossing and often darkly humorous” memoir of working with Iraqis after the fall of Saddam Hussein(Publishers Weekly).
In August 2003, at the age of thirty, Rory Stewart took a taxi from Jordan to Baghdad. A Farsi-speaking British diplomat who had recently completed an epic walk from Turkey to Bangladesh, he was soon appointed deputy governor of Amarah and then Nasiriyah, provinces in the remote, impoverished marsh regions of southern Iraq. He spent the next eleven months negotiating hostage releases, holding elections, and splicing together some semblance of an infrastructure for a population of millions teetering on the…

Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

By Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat,

Book cover of Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Amanda H. Podany Author Of Weavers, Scribes, and Kings: A New History of the Ancient Near East

From the list on the lives of real people in ancient Mesopotamia.

Who am I?

I’m a historian and professor of ancient Mesopotamia. I was born in the UK but have lived in the US for decades, and from childhood I loved ancient history and archaeology (even through a five-year stint as a bass player before and during college). No matter how long the human race exists in future, we have only one shared ancient global past, the remains of which represent a completely non-renewable resource and source of inspiration. There is plenty left to discover, with much evidence already excavated and awaiting interpretation. It’s a joy to analyze and share the words and life-stories of Mesopotamians in my books—in a conversation that stretches across millennia.

Amanda's book list on the lives of real people in ancient Mesopotamia

Why did Amanda love this book?

People often think that we don’t know much about ancient Mesopotamia because it flourished so long ago, but that isn’t true at all. The excavated documents are full of information about real people and their lives. Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat’s book is a great introduction because she has organized the chapters thematically to examine such features as family life and religion (as it was actually practiced), and because she quotes and analyzes obscure and interesting ancient texts. Readers can also explore ancient Mesopotamian government, economy, and intellectual innovations here, but the author always maintains her focus on the people.

By Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ancient world of Mesopotamia (from Sumer to the subsequent division into Babylonia and Assyria) vividly comes alive in this portrayal of the time period from 3100 bce to the fall of Assyria (612 bce) and Babylon (539 bce). Readers will discover fascinating details about the lives of these people from the society where writing began-taken from the ancients' own quotations and descriptions. A wealth of information is provided on such varied topics as: education; literature; mathematics and science; city vs. country life; family life; and religion. Similarities between daily life in ancient Mesopotamia and modern-day Iraq are also discussed.…

Osnat and Her Dove

By Sigal Samuel, Vali Mintzi (illustrator),

Book cover of Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World's First Female Rabbi

Erica Lyons Author Of Zhen Yu and the Snake

From the list on illustrated stories that are Jewish&.

Who am I?

As a Jew that is both Ashkenazi and Persian that lives in Hong Kong where I’m raising my Jewish Chinese children, I see Judaism for its rich diversity. I’m passionate about changing people’s perceptions about what Jews look like and where we hail from. We are not a single story. To further that goal, in 2009, I founded Asian Jewish Life - a journal of spirit, society, and culture, have penned book chapters and articles on Jewish Asia, have written children’s books about communities that are Jewish&, and have lectured internationally on related topics. These books are about Jewish communities, but they’re really about family and tradition. Read diverse books! 

Erica's book list on illustrated stories that are Jewish&

Why did Erica love this book?

Osnat and her Dove is so much more than a book that reflects Iraqi Jewish culture.

It is a book that will inspire girls to see the limitless possibilities that they have to choose their own paths. It’s a window into a community and history that readers likely know little about. The layered gouache illustrations create the illusion of texture and make the book even more magical. 

By Sigal Samuel, Vali Mintzi (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Osnat was born five hundred years ago - at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read.

Yet Osnat's father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books. And she convinced him to teach her. Then she in turn grew up to teach others, becoming a wise scholar in her own right, the world's first female rabbi!

Some say Osnat performed miracles - like healing a dove who had been shot by a hunter! Or saving a congregation from fire!

But perhaps her greatest feat was to be…

Book cover of Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Jeffrey Peter Clarke Author Of The Man Who Sought Eternity

From the list on the time of Gilgamesh.

Who am I?

I am Jeff Clarke, author and graphic designer. I have always been interested in origins and beginnings, whether it be the universe, life on Earth, military aviation and ancient societies. I possess a valuable private library of my own and generally prefer to use this rather than on-line sources as the authors’ qualifications are more easily ascertainable. I design the covers for all my novels.

Jeffrey's book list on the time of Gilgamesh

Why did Jeffrey love this book?

This book, like the others, is an essential reference for anyone researching the subject.

It covers in detail geography, rivers and irrigation, archaeology and building, government and society, religion and myth, language and writing, architecture, and the arts, economy and trade, food and agriculture, arms and warfare, everyday life, customs and society in general.

Getting down to finer details is the strength of this book. A great asset it has to be for the finer points in developing a novel.

By Stephen Bertman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Modern-day archaeological discoveries in the Near East continue to illuminate our understanding of the ancient world, including the many contributions made by the people of Mesopotamia to literature, art, government, and urban life The Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia describes the culture, history, and people of this land, as well as their struggle for survival and happiness, from about 3500 to 500 BCE. Mesopotamia was the home of a succession of
glorious civilizations-Sumeria, Babylonia, and Assyria-which flourished together for more than three millennia. Sumerian mathematicians devised the sixty-minute hour that still rules our lives; Babylonian architects designed the famed…


By Eric Fair,

Book cover of Consequence: A Memoir

Barbara Nickless Author Of Blood on the Tracks

From the list on what it is like to go to war and come home.

Who am I?

I'm an award-winning and bestselling author who teaches creative writing to veterans as part of a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the National Endowment for the Arts. I’m also an Air Force brat who grew up around military folk. After traumatic events gave me personal experience with post-traumatic stress disorder, I better understood why veterans don’t talk about their time in war. The books on this list are some of my favorites for capturing the terror of battle and the difficulty of reintegrating into a society that gives little thought to the human cost of war. 

Barbara's book list on what it is like to go to war and come home

Why did Barbara love this book?

Our recent wars, waged under the spotlight of journalists’ cameras and highlighted on social media, exposed American audiences to the dark underbelly of what it means to wage war. We saw not only the horrors of combat, but also the fallout from our treatment of the enemy. Eric Fair worked as an interrogator in Iraq, where Abu Ghraib became synonymous with everything America did wrong in a foreign country. His memoir reveals the ethical consequence of our quest for intelligence, and how those who participated in “enhanced interrogation” against foreign soldiers and civilians will forever carry the dark memories of their actions.

By Eric Fair,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Named one of "8 Books You Need to Read" by Vulture

A man questions everything--his faith, his morality, his country--as he recounts his experience as an interrogator in Iraq; an unprecedented memoir and "an act of incredible bravery" (Phil Klay, author of Redeployment).

In 2004, after several months as an interrogator, Eric Fair’s call to serve his country has led him to a dark and frightening place. By the time he leaves Iraq after that first deployment, Fair will have participated in or witnessed a variety of aggressive interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, diet manipulation, exposure, and isolation.…

Book cover of The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq: A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of its Communists, Ba`thists and Free Officers

Johan Franzen Author Of Red Star Over Iraq: Iraqi Communism Before Saddam

From the list on Middle Eastern communism and leftist movements.

Who am I?

Growing up during the Cold War, I became interested in Communism early. I read about how the Communist International worked to spread the world revolution. Despite its Eurocentrism, Communism appealed to people in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. However, it failed to make meaningful inroads in the Middle East. I wanted to know why. When I trained to become a historian, my curiosity turned towards the Arab world. I decided to combine my two interests and research the history of Arab Communist movements. I discovered a fascinating world of firebrand activists struggling against the tide of nationalism, fascism, and religious bigotry. I hope you find these books as gripping as I did.

Johan's book list on Middle Eastern communism and leftist movements

Why did Johan love this book?

This immense book, which in reality is three books in one, is what first attracted me to Iraqi communism. I had long been interested in the history of the Communist movement, but none of the many books I had read on the topic had ever dealt with Communism in the Arab world. Batatu’s book was a revelation. It is a tour de force of the history of Iraqi social movements of the early twentieth century. Despite many detours along the way, Batatu masterfully tells a gripping narrative of the disparate groups who ended up in the Iraqi state that was created after World War I and how they made sense of this new reality. 

By Hanna Batatu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book description for the previously published "The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq: A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of Its Communists, Ba'thists, and Free Officers" is not yet available.

Tooth and Nail

By Craig DiLouie,

Book cover of Tooth and Nail

David Moody Author Of Dawn

From the list on the inevitable bleakness of the apocalypse.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing about the end of the world for years, so I know my way around the apocalypse! It’s not as dark as it sounds – it’s not the end of the world itself that I find fascinating, it’s imagining the reactions of the people who inhabit these nightmare scenarios. I’m a people watcher at heart, and these days it seems we’re increasingly restricted by the polarization of society, almost forced to pick a side. Come the apocalypse, all the preconceptions and regulations will be stripped away, and folks will behave as they genuinely want to, not how they think they should. Now that would really be something to behold!

David's book list on the inevitable bleakness of the apocalypse

Why did David love this book?

In the zombie sub-genre, it’s hard to move for the countless books and films about battle-hardened troops trying to maintain law and order as the world tears itself apart. All too often, these stories are little more than battle scene after battle scene, when the gauge of ammo being fired at the zombies is given more importance than a cohesive plot, character development, or any other such trivialities! Not so with Tooth and Nail. A fantastic writer of military fiction, DiLouie cut his teeth here with a startlingly realistic story of a pack of exhausted soldiers trying to deal with the impossible as society crumbles around them.

By Craig DiLouie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but a slaughter.

As a new plague related to the rabies virus infects millions, America recalls its military forces from around the world to safeguard hospitals and other vital buildings. Many of the victims become rabid and violent but are easily controlled-that is, until so many are infected that they begin to run amok, spreading slaughter and disease. Lieutenant Todd Bowman got his unit through the horrors of combat in Iraq. Now he must lead his men across New York through a storm of violence…

New Babylonians

By Orit Bashkin,

Book cover of New Babylonians: A History of Jews in Modern Iraq

Lior B. Sternfeld Author Of Between Iran and Zion: Jewish Histories of Twentieth-Century Iran

From the list on Jewish histories of the Middle East.

Who am I?

I always felt that Middle Eastern studies is different from other fields of history. Its ever-presence in our life, the news cycle, religious life, political life, yet, because of language barriers and other filters, there’s a gap in knowledge that is highly conspicuous when forming one’s opinion. When I started my academic training, I felt like I was swimming in this ocean of histories that were completely unknown to me. I studied the Jewish histories of the region only later in my training and found that this gap is even more visible when talking about the history of Jews in the Middle East, because of misconceptions of antisemitism, the Israel-Palestine conflict, political tilt of media outlet, and more. For me, entering this field was a way to understand long-term processes in my own society, and expand the body of scholarship to enrich the public conversation on top of the academic one.

Lior's book list on Jewish histories of the Middle East

Why did Lior love this book?

Iraq was home to about 150,000 Jews until 1948-1951. Baghdad was a very much Jewish city. Iraqi Jews were very assimilated, but there was very little known about the political and social history of Iraqi Jews beyond the Zionist story. While many of the Iraqi Jews did indeed view Zionism as a viable solution for them, overlooking Jewish involvement in Iraqi national and communist organizations misses several of the most fascinating transformations of any Jewish community in the world. In this book, Bashkin analyzed the social, cultural, and national participation of Iraqi Jews from within the perspective of Iraqi society. Interestingly, many of the patterns continued even after their migration to Israel.

By Orit Bashkin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi patriots, their community-which had existed in Iraq for more than 2,500 years-was displaced following the establishment of the state of Israel. New Babylonians chronicles the lives of these Jews, their urban Arab culture, and their hopes for a democratic nation-state. It studies their ideas about Judaism, Islam, secularism, modernity, and reform, focusing on Iraqi Jews who internalized narratives of Arab and Iraqi nationalisms and on those who turned to communism in the 1940s. As the book reveals, the ultimate displacement of this community was not the result of a perpetual persecution on the…