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The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,312 ratings  ·  140 reviews
Though capable of staging spectacular attacks like 9/11, jihadist organizations were not a significant force on the ground when they first became notorious in the shape of al Qaida at the turn of century. The Wests initial successes in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan weakened their support still further.

Today, as renowned Middle East commentator Patrick Cockburn sets out
Paperback, 150 pages
Published October 2014 by OR Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Patrick Cockburn may come as a surprise to American readers who do not follow his reports in the British newspaper, The Independent. This book, published in November 2014, is a collection of his writings on Syria and ISIS and a summation of his opinion to that time. His assessment is not optimistic about stability in the region for some years to come and he is harsh in his judgment of the missteps that led us to this place.

When I first saw the depth and clarity of his analysis, I couldnt
A bit repetitive and feels a bit rushed (which it probably was). Some of the chapters seemed more like expanded newspaper articles and I suspect this is what happened. A tacked-on afterword brings events up to October 2014.

Still a very useful overview for me as someone struggling to make sense of the IS crisis. The main points are:

- That the Iraqi govt. & military are too corrupt to defend the country properly
- The Iraqi Sunni civilians are stuck between a national army, full of Shia
Michelle Lancaster
The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni
Patrick Cockburn
Verso Books
$16.95, 172 pgs

On June 10, 2014 the collection of psychopaths known variously as ISIS, ISIL, DAESH and now as Islamic State, captured Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, in only four days of fighting, which is when the western half of the globe looked around and thought, What the hell? By the end of June IS declared a caliphate comprising an area larger than Britain that is, in the words
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
A topical book, pulled together at speed and published cheaply, this is not better or worse than some of the lengthy analytical articles available in the press. Indeed, given more time it would have been a useful thing for the book to have borrowed more information from such sources to provide a more coherent and structured picture than it manages to do. An example is this one, giving a lot of information about the origins of ISIS in America's prison camps: ...more
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The most important book you could read this year to understand the conflict in Syria and Iraq resulting from the rising power of ISIS and the Wahabists. The US politics of convenience are once again planting the seed that will in all likelihood cause devastating blowback in the West, not to mention utterly distabilize the lives of millions in the region, just as the Reagan administrations support of bin Laden and the Mujhaideen snaked forward to 9/11.

Cockburn is a veteran journalist of the
Apr 11, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arab-politics
Terrible. This was clearly rushed to press before the ISIS Crisis falls out of news. The book has no coherent structure. Some of the chapters seem like articles extended by inserting an anonymous source or two. Other chapters seem like first drafts (with amateurish gravitas) and lack of fluency. There is a lot of irritating repetition in every chapter.
Granted, Cockburn's account isn't the black and white narrative of CNN, Fox, BBC & co. but it still simplifies the situation. He also
Steven E
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably the absolute best thing you can read in an afternoon to come to grips with the nightmare that has befallen the Middle East. About a third of the way in, Cockburn offers his thesis statement:

"The 'war on terror' has failed because it did not target the jihadi movement as a whole and, above all, was not aimed at Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two countries that fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement. The US did not do so because these countries were important Amercian allies whom it
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: empire
The Saudi plot

[Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns and in 2013 posted revenues for $74 billion and $274 million profits. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites].

The book reads the "low
It's true what some of these reviews are saying... that this volume seems to have been rushed to publication lest it miss its window of relevance. Nonetheless, I found it to be a very informative introduction to the ISIS calamity.

It is rather discouraging to see how little Western governments and media understand the political situation in the Middle East. We have this assumption that attempts to overthrow a tyrannical and/or corrupt regime are motivated entirely by a thirst for democracy. Yet
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
This is a quick read which alternates between a few things:
1. the horrifying entanglements between foreign powers,
2. the brutal chaos on the ground,
3. a broader discussion about the importance of truth and accurate journalism.
The reporting on the collapse of the Iraqi Army is disturbing but it's the need to cut through the mess of lies and distortions that is memorable.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, easy overview of the larger context of the rise of the Islamic State. This is not an academic study--there are no citations or footnotes or sources, and there isn't a whole lot of depth--but Patrick Cockburn has generally been a reliable journalist with lots of experience with on-the-ground reporting and investigation in the Middle East. This shouldn't be the only thing you read about IS and the ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq, but it is a decent quick read if you have some time to kill ...more
R Nair
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Decided to read this to see if it was any different to The Rise of Islamic State, both are basically the same book. The book is so well written and clear that it is something that needs to be re-read anyway, so no regrets.
Super informative and actually engaging and interesting to read. However, since it is a collection of articles rather than a cohesive book, some of it is a bit repetitive.
Nick Ziegler
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a clear, unadorned, superlatively informed account of ISIS's rise, the conditions that nurtured and sustained it, and the current situation in the Middle East, in which the existence of IS is increasingly becoming a geopolitical fact. The book is very easy to read, foregoing long theoretical passages or the grinding of tired political axes in favor of well reported, conversational accounts of recent history. The book is easy to read, in spite of its density of information, because the ...more
Muhammad Ahmad
Sep 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
A book about Iraq and Syria that manages to completely sidestep the regime's role in subverting a people's uprising by using indiscriminate violence and the sectarian card. The most controversial claims in the books are dubiously sourced, attributed to "intelligence officer in a neighboring country" (obviously Iran, since Cockburn names every other intel service). Cockburn also goes on to make the curious case that after 9/11, the US should have attacked Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (He appears not ...more
Jim Coughenour
Without question this is the book I'd recommend to anyone trying to get a grasp of what's happening in Syria and Iraq. As reportage it's a year out of date (easily supplemented by following Cockburn's articles for the Independent and The London Review of Books); as background, it's a lucid, perceptive summary.

For anyone reading this review on Goodreads, I'd refer them to Trish's excellent review.
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent account of the horrifying battles taking place in Syria and northern Iraq--a cluster fuck of monstrous proportions and unlikely resolution within the next few years. Given that no U.S. administration, Republican or Democrat, will likely develop sane policies regarding military interventions in the middle east, it is very likely we will be there for many years to come, weakening our own security at home.
Alex Linschoten
I guess more or less most of this is fairly accurate, though it is fairly disjointed. I think that I only found it useful because I haven't been following the events closely myself; if I had more of a solid grasp of things I imagine I'd find this book incredibly frustrating. So, all in all, a disappointing book, seemingly hastily put together.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
That whole region is so fucked, and pretty much every sovereign or revolutionary entity involved (including the West) is just making it worse. ISIS is pretty much like if the KKK took over the entire South.
Uuu Ooo Bbb
i was told it focuses to much on the sectarian politics and underplays american and western influence in the rise of isis. apart from the chapter on the failure on the war on terror it is the case. it's still a decent, readable and fairly short primer on the subject
Sandeep Narayanan
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a very "readable" book but definitely a treasure trove of information about the region and the success ISIS has had! Doesn't have much information on the group itself but reads like a reportage on the Iraq, Iran and Syria regions with large doses of politics of the world thrown in.
Dec 08, 2015 added it
Very good analysis of the conditions that lead to ISIS. Cockburn is one of the best journalists writing about the middle east today and even if a book on ISIS is a bit premature this is an excellent read.
Aayaz Khalil
Nov 04, 2014 added it
Shelves: politics
The bitter truth
Truth........we will never find the truth
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, informative book for both a general know how on Middle Eastern events and particularly for myself, my studies into the war in Iraq.
Adam Bastock
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short and concise background to the rise of ISIS, and the complexity of the situation on all sides. By no means a comprehensive analysis of all the factors, but an extremely good summary.
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a good, albeit short, introduction to ISIS. There is also a useful section on the decline of journalism and the challenges of war reporting overall.
Jamie King
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
The author does not attempt to downplay events cataloging the dysfunction at the upper levels and feelings on the ground during this transformational sectarian shift
Justin Tapp
Mr. Cockburn has worked as a journalist on the ground in the Middle East for years and seen the mess up close, he is also familiar with the Lebanese civil war that he often compares Syria to in the book. He advocates the "bang bang journalism" that gives readers an up-front picture and criticizes colleagues (without names) whose newspapers have them cover war from, say, Istanbul. But the reality is that this book is short and other larger books give a wider view, and you can get most of what ...more
Andy Walker
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the West stands on the brink of military action in Syria, now (13.4.18) seems like an apposite moment to have read this excellent book on the rise of Islamic State.

Written by journalist and Middle East expert Patrick Cockburn, this is a revealing book which outlines the utter failure of US foreign policy in the region. He details how the Islamic State was created from the ashes of civil war in Iraq and Syria to threaten the stability of the whole of the Middle East.

The book covers the rise
Khitkhite Buri
Short, introductory book written for a western liberal populace. While it does not deny the discrepancies of US, SA, or Qatar's methods, intentions, and media because Cockburn fails to outline the global socio-economic positions of the players, the US remains(for him) caught up in deceptions and self-deceptions and not global capital. The former is a mistake, the latter is a motive. His argument, that the erosion/lack of both political organizations and the government has enabled ISIS to rise ...more
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Patrick Oliver Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent.

He has written four books on Iraq's recent history. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009.

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99 likes · 17 comments
“For America, Britain, and the Western powers, the rise of ISIS and the caliphate is the ultimate disaster. Whatever they intended by their invasion of Iraq in 2003 and their efforts to unseat Assad in Syria since 2011, it was not to see the creation of a jihadi state spanning northern Iraq and Syria, run by a movement a hundred times bigger and much better organized than the al-Qaeda of Osama bin Laden. The war on terror for which civil liberties have been curtailed and hundreds of billions of dollars spent has failed miserably.” 5 likes
“An intelligence officer from a Middle Eastern country neighboring Syria told me that ISIS members “say they are always pleased when sophisticated weapons are sent to anti-Assad groups of any kind, because they can always get the arms off them by threats of force or cash payments.” 0 likes
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