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Iraq: A History

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Cities, scripts, literature, the rule of law – all were born in Iraq. That so many see this ancient land as nothing more than a violent backwater steeped in chaos is a travesty. This is the place where, for the first 5,000 years of human history, all innovations of worth emerged. It was the cradle of civilization.

In this unrivalled study, John Robertson details the greatn
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Oneworld Publications (first published June 1st 2012)
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Iraq: A History by John Robertson is an interesting look at the history of the modern nation-state of Iraq, and the people that resided and conquered its geographic dimensions throughout history. The country of Iraq is a relatively modern phenomena, with the entire region, in antiquity (and into modern times) known as Mesopotamia. This region played the role both as the seat of empires such as the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians, as well as regions of others, such as the Persian, Greek or O ...more
Emphasizes the history of Iraq up to the fall of the Abbasids. Although I would have liked to see more on the modern period, Robertson points out that he emphasizes this earlier period to argue that Iraq has as much an illustrious past as the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Persians, etc. This is a reasonable decision and the author handles the task well.
Cameron McLachlan
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I actually give this 3 1/2 stars. This is a synthetic history that details the political and intellectual achievements of the various Iraqi cultures from the invention of irrigation 5000 years ago to the rise of IS in 2014. On a positive note, Robertson is passionate about the contributions of the ancient and medieval Mesopotamian cultures to world history, as well as western civilization. While I was already familiar with Abbasid Baghdad's status as an intellectual powerhouse, I did learn more ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because I have a friend from Iraq and we often talk about the differences in our country. This book made me realize how little I know about Iraq. I recommend this for everyone.
Sajith Kumar
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, middle-east
The decade after the end of Cold War in 1990 was dominated by events unfolding in the oil rich Kuwait and Iraq region of the Middle East. Saddam Hussein, who was Iraq’s dictator-president invaded and annexed Kuwait. The rest of the world indignantly rose up in unity against Saddam and his forces were routed in a war that lasted only a few weeks. However, he clung on to power while being a thorn in the flesh of the US. Finally in 2003, America moved in decisively with concocted evidence of the pr ...more
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historie
Af vist nok ret tilfældige årsager har jeg på det seneste læst tre historiebøger om mellemøsten. To af dem har givet den helt store historiske tur tilbage til stenalderen og fremad By Steppe, Desert and Ocean og denne). Den sidste fokuserede på det ottomanske riges 1. verdenskrig. Alle tre har været lidt svære at komme igennem, fordi jeg egentligt ikke interesserer mig så meget for forhistorie eller for krig. Men alle tre er også blevet bedre og bedre desto længere jeg kom i dem.

Denne historie
Eric James
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you thought the U.S. "messed up" in Iraq, first read the history of the past 4000 years of Iraq to realize how we messed up on an extraordinarily blissfully ignorant way. It seems human civilization will freely repeat the mistakes of the past, even when the facts and probable outcomes are fully known. It is very sad that Mesopotamia, the birthplace of civilization, has rarely seen peace.
Aled Owen-Thomas
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Poor old Iraq has just been shafted by one empire after the next.
I found the more modern history the most interesting but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy the book as a whole.
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I truly gained a newfound respect and gratitude for Mesopotamia and for history itself. In addition, a much more deeper understanding of colonialism and imperialism; and what those have done to the world I live in now. There's a lot in this book that can annoy, anger, and frustrate you but, that's history. Just take a second to reflect and realise that no one is excluded from history. WE are all a part of it and constantly in the process of writing it (and of r ...more
Sri Ramesh
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been about oil since the British first colonized Iraq in the 1920s and installed the Hashemite Iraqi monarchy. As late as 1980 (even under Saddam), seems that Iraq was nearly a first world country due to its oil. The US raised eyebrows at Saddam when he invaded Iran, then Kuwait (1st/2nd Gulf Wars) then after 9/11 took him out and replaced him with a Shi'ite ruler who also turned out to be dictatorial, all while displacing millions of ethnic Kurds and Sunnis. A country that should be as ric ...more
Matthew Griffiths
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a history book that covers the entire sweep of a countries history, this does a remarkably good job of giving a lot of detail in such a short space, starting from ancient times right the way through to the aftermath of the war in Iraq in the early 2000s. the author consistently points out how trends that have seemingly always been evident in Iraq have shaped that countries' history, whether you are looking at Assyrians, Mongols or Americans. For anyone looking to read a concise, well written ...more
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Het kostte even tijd, niet zo geschikt in tijden van corona-gerelateerd verlies van concentratievermogen. De informatiedichtheid is nogal enorm. Best lastig om als je zoveel weet een compacte geschiedenis van eeuwen Midden Oosten/Irak te schrijven. Betekent ook dat de lezer onvermijdelijk een deel vergeet, maar dat is niet erg want juist omdat er zoveel is, blijft er ook nog heel veel hangen. De epiloog stopt in 2015, niet bepaald optimistisch, en terecht...
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got this book from the library to learn more about the neo-Babylonian empire. They chapter on religion looked good. However, the author jumps from the old Babylonian empire and goes right to the Persian, completely missing the Chaldeans.😕
Liang Chen
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good writing from prehistory days to present.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book, I am genuinely unsure if the author, John Robertson, could find Iraq on a map
Piers Haslam
Jul 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: iraq, history
A useful but uninspiring overview, but then the book is really pitched at people who genuinely believe Iraq is and always was an inert "backwater". If Robertson opens a few eyes with this book, then he's done a wonderful job!
Apr 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this a slightly lower rating of stars merely because the first part of the book was information I hadn't already read about. No fault of the author as his main thrust is to reach audiences that would never have thought to read about Iraq before. From that perspective it's really very good. However, there is one real sticking point for me and that is to be found on page 118. I cannot for the life of me see why the goddess Inanna should be declared by another historian as a "cosmic cunt" no ...more
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robertson now belongs to my list of favorite non-fiction authors, including McCullough, Ackerman, and Ellis. This is fascinating, accessible, and extremely well-researched; the contributions of this ancient area to the modern world are innumerable, and Robertson does a great job of organizing culture, religion, language, etc.
4.5 stars because there is a typo on page 252.
The West's greed for oil and its meddling in the affairs of this ancient region have certainly helped create the mess we're in today. We are reaping the whirlwind.
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