The best books about the Kurds

4 authors have picked their favorite books about the Kurds and why they recommend each book.

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The Kurdish Spring

By David L. Phillips,

Book cover of The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East

After World War I, the great powers who carved up the Middle East should have by all rights given the huge population of Kurds there a state of their own. But the new Turkish republic made sure they didn’t, and as a result of this historic betrayal, Kurdish people have lived as a minority in several Middle Eastern countries, whose dictatorial governments persecuted them brutally and often still do. Phillips, a longtime champion of Kurdish human rights, surveys their condition and traces their current evolution into a vibrant political community, arguing for international recognition of their right to self-determination.

The Kurdish Spring

By David L. Phillips,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kurds are the largest stateless people in the world. An estimated thirty-two million Kurds live in "Kurdistan," which includes parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran-today's "hot spots" in the Middle East. The Kurdish Spring explores the subjugation of Kurds by Arab, Ottoman, and Persian powers for almost a century, and explains why Kurds are now evolving from a victimized people to a coherent political community.

David L. Phillips describes Kurdish rebellions and arbitrary divisions in the last century, chronicling the nadir of Kurdish experience in the 1980s. He discusses draconian measures implemented by Iraq, including use of chemical weapons,…


Who am I?

I was the partner and late-life collaborator of the late social ecology theorist Murray Bookchin. Shortly before his death his 2006, the Kurdish freedom movement took up his ideas, as Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s thought leader, had recommended them. Öcalan created a new ideology based in part on social ecology, promoting face-to-face democracy through citizen assemblies and councils; the liberation of women; a cooperative economy; and an ecological orientation. In several northern provinces of Syria, activist Kurds started building liberatory institutions based on these ideas, at first illicitly, under the Assad regime’s brutal persecution. Then a few years later, after the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, the northern provinces declined to take sides in the conflict but instead created a revolution, turning the democratic, gender-equal institutions they had been building into the polity of self-governing provinces, known as Rojava (now known as the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria). As a result of my connection with Bookchin, I was privileged to visit three times and witnessed the revolution.


I wrote...

Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

By Janet Biehl,

Book cover of Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

What is my book about?

The first and only intellectual and political biography of the social theorist whose work contributed greatly to the Rojava Revolution.

Murray Bookchin was not only one of the most significant and influential environmental philosophers of the twentieth century--he was also one of the most prescient. From industrial agriculture to nuclear radiation, Bookchin has been at the forefront of every major ecological issue since the very beginning, often proposing a solution before most people even recognized there was a problem.

Rojava

By Thomas Schmidinger,

Book cover of Rojava: Revolution, War and the Future of Syria's Kurds

Schmidinger, a Viennese political scientist and specialist in Kurdish studies, focuses on the Kurds’ particular oppression in Syria, where they are the largest ethnic minority. He explains the historical events that led to the Rojava Revolution of 2012 and the new institutions created there, up to the book’s publication in 2017. It is highly readable, sympathetic, and grounded in deep knowledge.

Rojava

By Thomas Schmidinger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Kurdish territory of Rojava in Syria has become a watchword for radical democracy, communalism and gender equality. But while Western radicals continue to project their own values onto the revolution, the complexities of the situation are often overlooked or misunderstood.

Based on over 17 years of research and fieldwork, Thomas Schmidinger provides a detailed introduction to the history and political situation in Rojava. Outlining the history of the Kurds in Syria from the late Ottoman Empire until the Syrian civil war, he describes the developments in Rojava since 2011: the protests against the regime, the establishment of a Kurdish…


Who am I?

I was the partner and late-life collaborator of the late social ecology theorist Murray Bookchin. Shortly before his death his 2006, the Kurdish freedom movement took up his ideas, as Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s thought leader, had recommended them. Öcalan created a new ideology based in part on social ecology, promoting face-to-face democracy through citizen assemblies and councils; the liberation of women; a cooperative economy; and an ecological orientation. In several northern provinces of Syria, activist Kurds started building liberatory institutions based on these ideas, at first illicitly, under the Assad regime’s brutal persecution. Then a few years later, after the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, the northern provinces declined to take sides in the conflict but instead created a revolution, turning the democratic, gender-equal institutions they had been building into the polity of self-governing provinces, known as Rojava (now known as the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria). As a result of my connection with Bookchin, I was privileged to visit three times and witnessed the revolution.


I wrote...

Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

By Janet Biehl,

Book cover of Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

What is my book about?

The first and only intellectual and political biography of the social theorist whose work contributed greatly to the Rojava Revolution.

Murray Bookchin was not only one of the most significant and influential environmental philosophers of the twentieth century--he was also one of the most prescient. From industrial agriculture to nuclear radiation, Bookchin has been at the forefront of every major ecological issue since the very beginning, often proposing a solution before most people even recognized there was a problem.

The Kurds of Northern Syria

By Harriet Allsopp, Wladimir van Wilgenburg,

Book cover of The Kurds of Northern Syria: Governance, Diversity and Conflicts

This analysis traces the momentous social and political transformation of northeastern Syria brought about by the Rojava Revolution. It is grounded in a thorough knowledge of the literature on Kurdish politics and the Syrian war. At the same time one of the co-authors, a journalist based in Erbil, had unprecedented access to officials in the self-administration as well as civilians on the ground. The first-hand research and interviews are a pillar of the book, which explores the prospects for Kurdish autonomy with realism and nuance.

The Kurds of Northern Syria

By Harriet Allsopp, Wladimir van Wilgenburg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on unprecedented access to Kurdish-governed areas of Syria, including exclusive interviews with administration officials and civilian surveys, this book sheds light on the socio-political landscape of this minority group and the various political factions vying to speak for them.
The first English-language book to capture the momentous transformations that have occurred since 2011, the authors move beyond idealized images of Rojava and the Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) to provide a nuanced assessment of the Kurdish autonomous experience and the prospects for self-rule in Syria. The book draws on unparalleled field research, as well as analysis of the literature…


Who am I?

I was the partner and late-life collaborator of the late social ecology theorist Murray Bookchin. Shortly before his death his 2006, the Kurdish freedom movement took up his ideas, as Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s thought leader, had recommended them. Öcalan created a new ideology based in part on social ecology, promoting face-to-face democracy through citizen assemblies and councils; the liberation of women; a cooperative economy; and an ecological orientation. In several northern provinces of Syria, activist Kurds started building liberatory institutions based on these ideas, at first illicitly, under the Assad regime’s brutal persecution. Then a few years later, after the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, the northern provinces declined to take sides in the conflict but instead created a revolution, turning the democratic, gender-equal institutions they had been building into the polity of self-governing provinces, known as Rojava (now known as the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria). As a result of my connection with Bookchin, I was privileged to visit three times and witnessed the revolution.


I wrote...

Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

By Janet Biehl,

Book cover of Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

What is my book about?

The first and only intellectual and political biography of the social theorist whose work contributed greatly to the Rojava Revolution.

Murray Bookchin was not only one of the most significant and influential environmental philosophers of the twentieth century--he was also one of the most prescient. From industrial agriculture to nuclear radiation, Bookchin has been at the forefront of every major ecological issue since the very beginning, often proposing a solution before most people even recognized there was a problem.

Book cover of A Thousand Sighs, a Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan

History, culture, politics, plus the zing of real personalities. This book has it all, presented by a gutsy but sensitive journalist. Bird traveled through the four nations that are home to Kurds -- Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey -- in 2003. Although a lot has changed since then, her book remains the gold standard for nonfiction about these fascinating and little-understood people. You’ll wish you could have stowed away in her backpack.

A Thousand Sighs, a Thousand Revolts

By Christiane Bird,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Thousand Sighs, a Thousand Revolts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Though the Kurds played a major military and tactical role in the United States’ recent war with Iraq, most of us know little about this fiercely independent, long-marginalized people. Now acclaimed journalist Christiane Bird, who riveted readers with her tour of Islamic Iran in Neither East Nor West, travels through this volatile part of the world to tell the Kurds’ story, using personal observations and in-depth research to illuminate an astonishing history and vibrant culture.

For the twenty-five to thirty million Kurds, Kurdistan is both an actual and a mythical place: an isolated, largely mountainous homeland that has historically offered…


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.


I wrote...

The Kurdish Bike

By Alesa Lightbourne,

Book cover of The Kurdish Bike

What is my book about?

With her marriage over and life gone flat, Theresa Turner responds to an online ad and lands at a school in Kurdish Iraq. Befriended by a widow in a nearby village, she is embroiled in the joys and agonies of traditional life. Her greatest challenge will be balancing respect for cultural values while trying to introduce more enlightened attitudes toward women -- and seeking new spiritual dimensions within herself.

"The Kurdish Bike has such strong characters and story that the reader feels like a member of the family. If you are interested in learning about the lives, culture, and hardships faced by people in the Middle East, this book is a must-read. Five stars." Manhattan Book Review

Book cover of Daughters of Smoke and Fire

I have immense admiration for Ava Homa, the first female Iranian Kurd to publish in English. Her novel is part political expose, part history, and part feminist coming-of-age story, all wrapped up in a nail-biter of an adventure. The narrator is a woman, adding unexpected plot twists. Given the repression faced by Kurds in Iran, and the wall of silence maintained by the regime, Homa’s book is an important and courageous plea to the world for empathy and action -- plus it’s a downright riveting read.

Daughters of Smoke and Fire

By Ava Homa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The unforgettable, haunting story of a young woman's perilous fight for freedom and justice for her brother, the first novel published in English by a female Kurdish writer

Set primarily in Iran, this extraordinary debut novel weaves 50 years of modern Kurdish history through a story of a family facing oppression and injustices all too familiar to the Kurds. Leila dreams of making films to bring the suppressed stories of her people onto the global stage, but obstacles keep piling up. Her younger brother, Chia, influenced by their father's past torture, imprisonment, and his deep-seated desire for justice, begins to…


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.


I wrote...

The Kurdish Bike

By Alesa Lightbourne,

Book cover of The Kurdish Bike

What is my book about?

With her marriage over and life gone flat, Theresa Turner responds to an online ad and lands at a school in Kurdish Iraq. Befriended by a widow in a nearby village, she is embroiled in the joys and agonies of traditional life. Her greatest challenge will be balancing respect for cultural values while trying to introduce more enlightened attitudes toward women -- and seeking new spiritual dimensions within herself.

"The Kurdish Bike has such strong characters and story that the reader feels like a member of the family. If you are interested in learning about the lives, culture, and hardships faced by people in the Middle East, this book is a must-read. Five stars." Manhattan Book Review

Book cover of Take What You Can Carry

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.

Take What You Can Carry

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…


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.


I wrote...

The Kurdish Bike

By Alesa Lightbourne,

Book cover of The Kurdish Bike

What is my book about?

With her marriage over and life gone flat, Theresa Turner responds to an online ad and lands at a school in Kurdish Iraq. Befriended by a widow in a nearby village, she is embroiled in the joys and agonies of traditional life. Her greatest challenge will be balancing respect for cultural values while trying to introduce more enlightened attitudes toward women -- and seeking new spiritual dimensions within herself.

"The Kurdish Bike has such strong characters and story that the reader feels like a member of the family. If you are interested in learning about the lives, culture, and hardships faced by people in the Middle East, this book is a must-read. Five stars." Manhattan Book Review

Revolution in Rojava

By Michael Knapp, Anja Flach, Ercan Ayboga

Book cover of Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women's Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan

Originally written in German and published in 2014, this first full-length study of the revolution is based on extensive research there, including interviews with participants in the revolution. It remains a basic text for any study of the revolution.

Revolution in Rojava

By Michael Knapp, Anja Flach, Ercan Ayboga

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A new kind of society is being built in Syria, but it's not one you would expect. Surrounded by deadly bands of ISIS and hostile Turkish forces, the people living in Syria's Rojava cantons are carving out one of the most radically progressive societies on the planet today. Western visitors have been astounded by the success of their project, a communally organised democracy which considers women's equality indispensable and rejects reactionary nationalist ideology whilst being fiercely anti-capitalist.

The people of Rojava call their new system democratic confederalism. An implementation of the recent ideology of the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan,…


Who am I?

I was the partner and late-life collaborator of the late social ecology theorist Murray Bookchin. Shortly before his death his 2006, the Kurdish freedom movement took up his ideas, as Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s thought leader, had recommended them. Öcalan created a new ideology based in part on social ecology, promoting face-to-face democracy through citizen assemblies and councils; the liberation of women; a cooperative economy; and an ecological orientation. In several northern provinces of Syria, activist Kurds started building liberatory institutions based on these ideas, at first illicitly, under the Assad regime’s brutal persecution. Then a few years later, after the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, the northern provinces declined to take sides in the conflict but instead created a revolution, turning the democratic, gender-equal institutions they had been building into the polity of self-governing provinces, known as Rojava (now known as the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria). As a result of my connection with Bookchin, I was privileged to visit three times and witnessed the revolution.


I wrote...

Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

By Janet Biehl,

Book cover of Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin

What is my book about?

The first and only intellectual and political biography of the social theorist whose work contributed greatly to the Rojava Revolution.

Murray Bookchin was not only one of the most significant and influential environmental philosophers of the twentieth century--he was also one of the most prescient. From industrial agriculture to nuclear radiation, Bookchin has been at the forefront of every major ecological issue since the very beginning, often proposing a solution before most people even recognized there was a problem.

Kiss the Dust

By Elizabeth Laird,

Book cover of Kiss the Dust

13 year old Tara is a Kurd living in Iraq. Overnight her world is turned upside down as her people are under bombardment from the government of Saddam Hussein and she has to flee for her life. It is 1970. Tara and her mother and little sister Hero and brother make a difficult, dangerous overnight journey across the mountains into Iran, but even there their lives are in danger. They have no idea what has happened to Tara’s father and brother, or if they will ever see them again.

I knew little about the Kurds until I read this book. Laird’s sympathetic and well-researched novel took me into the heart of these people who have no homeland, this family, and this teenaged war refugee.

Kiss the Dust

By Elizabeth Laird,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tara is an ordinary teenager. Although her country, Kurdistan, is caught up in a war, the fighting seems far away. It hasn't really touched her. Until now. The secret police are closing in. Tara and her family must flee to the mountains with only the few things they can carry. It is a hard and dangerous journey - but their struggles have only just begun. Will anywhere feel like home again?


Who am I?

My maternal great-grandparents were Irish immigrants. My paternal grandfather left Liverpool in the late 19th century to go to Australia. I’d love to know their children’s stories! Some of the families I visited as a social worker (mid-1960s) were immigrants, struggling to make sense of a new language and a new culture. I met a child who had come here alone as an illegal immigrant and had been a house slave until the social services settled her with a foster family. I met author Hanna Jansen and her many adopted children from war-torn countries. Fiction gives us many powerful stories about children forced to flee from their homes because of war, tyranny, hunger, poverty, natural disasters.


I wrote...

The Girl Who Saw Lions

By Berlie W. Doherty,

Book cover of The Girl Who Saw Lions

What is my book about?

"Be strong, my Abela." These are the last words of Abela's mother in their HIV/Aids stricken African village, where it seems that to live or to die, to be sick or to be healthy, is just a matter of chance. It takes all 8-year-old Abela's strength to survive her Uncle Thomas's scheming to get her to London, where she becomes a house slave. but what will be her fate as an illegal immigrant? Abela’s story is interwoven with that of 13-year-old Rosa, in England, who is jealous and unhappy when her mother tells her she wants to adopt an orphan.

 … this latest Doherty title is a heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful examination of HIV/Aids, child trafficking, and adoption. (Season Highlight) ― The Bookseller

Kurdistan

By Susan Meiselas,

Book cover of Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History

This enormous repository of Kurdish history and culture is jam-packed with everything from photographs and maps, to excerpts from memoirs and letters, to clips from newspapers and government documents. Covering the period from the 1870s to the early 2000s, it includes accounts from both the Kurds themselves and outsiders. I poured over the book both before and after my travels, and each time I did, I discovered a powerful new narrative or image I hadn’t noticed before.

Kurdistan

By Susan Meiselas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kurdistan was erased from world maps after World War I, when the victorious powers carved up the Middle East, leaving the Kurds without a homeland. Today the Kurds, who live on land that straddles the borders of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, are by far the largest ethnic group in the world without a state.Renowned photographer Susan Meiselas entered northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to record the effects of Saddam Hussein's campaigns against Iraq's Kurdish population. She joined Human Rights Watch in documenting the destruction of Kurdish villages (some of which Hussein had attacked with chemical weapons in…


Who am I?

I first became interested in the Kurds during a 1998 journey I took to Iran to work on my first book about the Middle East, Neither East nor West. While there, I traveled to Sanandaj, Iran’s unofficial Kurdish capital, where I was immediately struck by how different the area seemed from the rest of the Islamic Republic—heartbreaking in its lonesome beauty, and defiant. Despite a large number of Revolutionary Guards on the streets, the men swaggered and women strode. These people are not cowed, I thought—no wonder they make the Islamic government nervous. I had to find out more.


I wrote...

Book cover of A Thousand Sighs, a Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan

What is my book about?

From a Kurdish wedding in Iran, to the destroyed Kurdish countryside in southeastern Turkey, to lunch with a powerful exiled agha in Syria, to the sites of Saddam Hussein's horrific chemical attacks in Iraq, Bird offers welcome insight into a violently stunning world understood by few Westerners. Part mesmerizing travelogue, part action-packed history, part reportage, and part cultural study, this critical book—published in 2003, but still highly relevant today—helps to unveil the mysteries of an increasingly influential part of the world.

Memed, My Hawk

By Yashar Kemal, Edouard Roditi (translator),

Book cover of Memed, My Hawk

A Kurd born in Turkey in 1923, Kemal was a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature for years, and this book is the real deal, a classic novel of adventure and heroism that has been compared to works by Faulkner. It’s not overtly about the Kurds—the ethnicity of its main character, Memed, is not mentioned—and yet it is, as Memed is a rebel who refuses to submit to authoritarian rule and risks everything for freedom. Fast-paced and gripping, yet also lyrical and meditative, the book is set in southeastern Turkey—i.e., Kurdistan—and its descriptions of the land are unforgettable. 

Memed, My Hawk

By Yashar Kemal, Edouard Roditi (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Memed grows up a serf to a vicious overlord on the thistle-clad plains of Turkey's Taurus region. When his plan to escape is dashed, and the young woman he loves murdered, Memed makes for the mountains to become an outlaw. Before long he has transformed from a young rebel to an infamous bandit, the scourge of corrupt oppressors and hero to the poor. With vividness and simplicity, Kemal's classic novel evokes the fierce beauty of his country and the struggles of its oppressed people.


Who am I?

I first became interested in the Kurds during a 1998 journey I took to Iran to work on my first book about the Middle East, Neither East nor West. While there, I traveled to Sanandaj, Iran’s unofficial Kurdish capital, where I was immediately struck by how different the area seemed from the rest of the Islamic Republic—heartbreaking in its lonesome beauty, and defiant. Despite a large number of Revolutionary Guards on the streets, the men swaggered and women strode. These people are not cowed, I thought—no wonder they make the Islamic government nervous. I had to find out more.


I wrote...

Book cover of A Thousand Sighs, a Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan

What is my book about?

From a Kurdish wedding in Iran, to the destroyed Kurdish countryside in southeastern Turkey, to lunch with a powerful exiled agha in Syria, to the sites of Saddam Hussein's horrific chemical attacks in Iraq, Bird offers welcome insight into a violently stunning world understood by few Westerners. Part mesmerizing travelogue, part action-packed history, part reportage, and part cultural study, this critical book—published in 2003, but still highly relevant today—helps to unveil the mysteries of an increasingly influential part of the world.

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