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Black Flags: The Rise of Isis

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  9,271 ratings  ·  964 reviews
WINNER OF THE 2016 PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NONFICTION
A Best Book of 2015 "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "People" Magazine, "San Francisco Chronicle," "Kansas City Star," and "Kirkus Reviews"
""In a thrilling dramatic narrative, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Joby Warrick"traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first a
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Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Anchor Books (first published September 29th 2015)
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Michael Hughes Warrick is an award-winning journalist who has written about national security for the Washington Post for nearly two decades, and served on its…moreWarrick is an award-winning journalist who has written about national security for the Washington Post for nearly two decades, and served on its investigation unit. He shared a Pulitzer prize in 1996 for environmental reporting at the News and Observer (N.C.) and won the Overseas Press Club of America's 2003 award for reporting on weapons proliferation. (less)
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John Lamb
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on ISIS, so I'm kind of an expert now. If you need me at your dinner parties for pedantic insight into the Middle East, hit me up.
Trish
Editing my number of stars in light of Patrick Cockburn's The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, only discovered after the comment thread on this review. I cannot recall Warrick even mentioning Saudi or Pakistani involvement either in the ISIS movement beginning after the U.S. invasion of Iraq (on which he spent an enormous amount of our time), or after Zarqawi was killed in 2006. He said nothing significantly different from newspaper reporting in the U.S. the past 15 years, though ...more
Jason Koivu
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OH! ISIS! I thought they were saying Icees, as in...

description

Well, now that I'm up to speed on radical Islamic terrorism, who wants to invite me over to their bbq, so I can be the life of the party? Cuz nothing says FUN like bringing up politics and religion at a social gathering! Just look how enjoyable Facebook is these days.

All silliness aside, Black Flags is a solid way to understand how ISIS came to be. A good number of pages are also spent on Al Qaeda and Bin Laden, but the real focus is Abu Musab
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Louise
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a general reader and want to read one book on the origin of ISIS, look no further.

In telling the story through individuals the book contrasts to others like ISIS: The State of Terror or Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect that are more thorough and focus more on politics and policies. Joby Warrick’s approach, focusing on the key personnel, holds your attention throughout. This book is heavy on the founder, Abu Musab Zarqawi and its beginnings
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Steven Z.
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If one were to read one book to gain an understanding of how the Islamic State (ISIS) was able to conquer a land mass that is as big as Israel and Lebanon, it should be Joby Warrick’s new monograph, BLACK FLAGS: THE RISE OF ISIS. Warrick, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the Washington Post writes in a clear style that allows the reader to gain insight and understanding of the many important points he makes. What separates Warrick’s effort from the myriad of works on ISIS that have appeared ...more
Mikey B.
This book describes the rise of ISIS. It is in three sequential parts. The first is the background of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was born in Jordan. At first he was just a common thug and not religious. He was arrested and in prison fell under the spell of Islam and became radicalized. He was released as part of a prisoner exchange, something that happens with regularity in the Middle East.

From there he journeyed to Iraq – this becomes the second part of the book. During the U.S. led invasion of I
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Max
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
Warrick, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, explores the origins of ISIS. Beginning in the 1990’s he chronicles the rise of Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq and ends with the Syrian war and the rise of Baghdadi and ISIS. Warrick is a skilled writer making his account very readable and easy to digest. Most of us will remember the major events described. Warrick adds value by connecting them, filling in the gaps, giving us a continuous narrative. We see the stunning appearance of ISIS running rampan ...more
Paula Kalin
Excellent history on the rise of ISIS and the US involvement in Iraq. Terrific narrator for the audiobook.

5 out of 5 stars.
Ammar
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected more from this book, when I read it. It it bring anything new about Isis.
Kamil
While I give it props for being written almost as political thriller, I, personally, look for information in my non fiction reads, while here those information could be easily packed on 150 pages. The rest is a dramatised vision of events in Middle East since 1999 till 2015.
I liked it, don't get me wrong but I would so much more prefer it was more analysis of political and social factors, rather than simply giving me the "rambo" narration of those events.
Katy
Excellent -- Warrick does not make excuses for the leaders and countries that made mistakes that helped to bring ISIS about as a power in the Middle East. A good introduction to some of the people and issues that continue to keep the Middle East unsettled. He also introduced me to some of the heroes who have and continue to try to combat the violence in the area.
Lewis Weinstein
A terrifying account of the development of ISIS from the botched invasion of Iraq.
Kathleen
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pultizer Prize for Nonfiction 2016. Warrick has written an excellent account of the rise of radical Islamic movements headed by charismatic leaders—from Osama bin Laden to Abu Musad al-Zarquwi and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Osama bin Ladin came from a wealthy family and created al-Qaeda to unify all Muslims (Sunni and Shiite) to fight against western modernism. Abu Musad al-Zarquwi’s movement was shunned by al-Qaeda for a long time. Al-Qaeda was concerned that Zarquwi’s hatred of the Shiite sect and ...more
Ian
A thoroughly depressing read for reasons that are all too obvious, but I wanted to improve my understanding of this loathsome organisation.

Despite the upsetting subject matter, this is an absolutely engrossing read, with extensive first hand testimony from former U.S. diplomats, CIA operatives, staff of the Jordanian intelligence service, and Sunni Iraqi tribal leaders who have alternately supported and fought the Islamists. It was depressing to read about how, prior to the Iraq invasion, the Bu
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Doubleday  Books
I, admittedly, did not know much about ISIS before I cracked open BLACK FLAGS. Though I was nervous that most of the book would go completely over my head, I was pleasantly surprised that I too could dive into the world of current Middle Eastern politics with zeal. It is apparent from the start of the book that Joby Warrick is not only an award-winning journalist, but also an engaging and vivacious storyteller. Warrick traces the trajectory of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a political prisoner set free ...more
KatieMc
ISIS is the group that al-Qaeda denounces as extremist. It's not a fun or funny topic. However, I do appreciate this black flag:
ISIS dildo merch available at http://www.paulcoombs.co.uk/

Black Flags methodically lays out the background and rise of what we now know as ISIS, or the Islamic State. It's not because Islam is a flawed religion. It's not because Middle Eastern cultures are flawed. Much of the blame points back at American arrogance and thoughtlessness, in particular the decision to tak
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Annie
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let’s be real here, I was pretty woefully ignorant about a lot of the information in this book. I understood the basic concept of the organizations and major players here, but that was about it. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIS, ISIL, the Islamic State— how do they relate to each other? Do they even all relate?

For the rest of the review, I’ll refer to the group as ISIS for reasons discussed here and here.

This book is epically readable— like a
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Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews.

This year, I've been educating myself a lot about politics and, really, terrorism. I mean, it's something that we should think about. Domestic and foreign when it impacts America. This book takes place within my lifetime, so I feel like I should know about how the current affairs got created. I thought this book was very succinct and a bit critical of America.

Mainly, this book is very easy and clear to read. Despite not being good at foreign
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Barb Middleton
My extended essay students are writing papers on terrorism and I know little on the subject. This book gives excellent background knowledge on the rise of modern terrorism in the Middle East. When Saddam Hussein's reign ended in Iraq, it created unique opportunities for terrorists. Through various misfortunes and missteps by the Western governments, the beginning of modern terrorism took root in Iraq with the brilliant strategist and thug, leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who took advantage of oppor ...more
Alexa
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A difficult read, but very engaging despite the amount of information being given. Five stars because I feel like I learned a lot and I'm not sure how it could have been done better. I liked the way the author uses characters to drive the "story" forward and give different perspectives. It kept things human and easier to grasp.

My main take away was how frustrating the rise of ISIS is, though. Incredibly hard to see all the missteps and oversights that led to so much continuing violence, though
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Loredana (Bookinista08)
Băi, am mai zis-o și o mai zic: viața bate oricând filmul la fund. Orice orori teroriste își pot închipui autorii de thriller-uri, viața reală le oferă deja pe tavă. M-am îngrozit și m-am întristat cumplit să citesc despre ascensiunea acestei ciume globale a epocii moderne, pe numele său ISIS. O adunătură de dezaxați din păcate organizați, care își permit să întoarcă pe toate fețele un text sfânt al credinței lor doar în scopul de a omorî oameni nevinovați. Oricât de multă îndoctrinare există în ...more
Brian Rosenblat
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(4.5/5.0) Fascinating book. Amazing how deep the author goes in tracing the rise of ISIS. Impressive, given the dark nature of the subject and what I'd imagine would be very hard to get intelligence. Painful to relive the blunders of U.S. foreign policy during this time.

Would definitely recommend.
Niklas Pivic
This is not a personally reflective book on how ISIS came to be, but more a factual one, as reported by a "western" journalist. With that in the bag, I think the book is notable for its critique directed towards the USA and other countries as well, and makes valid points.

Rami Khouri, noted journalist with deep insight into ISIS, calls them a Salafist takfiri extremist group. Salafist refers to a muslim who wants to go back to the old, literal way of Islam, takfiri refers to a Sunni way of pointi
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Nick Imrie
The most surprising thing about this book, which won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction, is how much it feels like fiction. It's like a thriller: the terrible rise of ISIS is tensely plotted. The characters are all well drawn and, like the omniscient narrator of a novel, Warrick is able to tell us exactly what they thought and felt at all the dramatic moments. At first one thinks, 'how could Warrick possibly know so much detail about the interior lives of Jordanian royalty, American spooks or Sy ...more
Mal Warwick
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
One thing is unmistakably clear nearly from the outset of this outstanding inquiry into the history of ISIS: the bombings, the beheadings, the execution of hundreds of people at a time — we brought it all on ourselves with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Black Flags, the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Joby Warrick, may not be the final word on today’s leading terrorist scourge but it’s a great start at understanding how the so-called Islamic State came into being.

Heroes and villains in
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Bou
An unique and excellent insight in the origins of ISIS, its subsequent rise and American incompetence

Joby Warrick is a reporter for The Washington Post and a Pullitzer Price winner for his journalism about the Middle East. In this book he traces the origins of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) by describing the main personalities behind the rise, the Jordanian Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi (the founding father) and his successor Abu Hamza al-Baghdadi, who succeeded in establishing the ISIS cali
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Evan Leach
Black Flags is a chilling, well written examination of the events that led to the formation of ISIS. Warrick identifies a number of factors that assisted ISIS’ rise, including repressive Arab regimes, conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and U.S. interventionism in the Middle East.

This was a very strong read. Despite its disturbing subject matter, the book was extremely engaging, consistently interesting, and highly informative. Warrick (a journalist by trade) has a gift for narrative nonfi
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Bethany Fair
While I enjoyed Warrick's narrative style and pacing (I literally finished this book in about 5 hours because I couldn't put it down), it feels a bit misleading. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is represented as the primary architect and ultimate bastion of ideologies that inspired the Islamic State's "completely unique" mission: establishing an ubiquitous Caliphate in the PRESENT that aims to mobilize a global Ummah without borders.

I think if this title of the book was more accurate, or its central thesi
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Linda
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, war-torn
I just might send this book to Donald Trump.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone
  • Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa'ida since 9/11
  • United States of Jihad: Americans Fighting for Radical Islam--from al-Qaeda to ISIS
  • ISIS: The State of Terror
  • No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes
  • The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising
  • Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War
  • The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism--From al Qa'ida to ISIS
  • The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq
  • The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
  • The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State
  • The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008
  • The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
  • The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda
  • The Longest War: A History of the War on Terror and the Battles with Al Qaeda Since 9/11
  • The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East
  • Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide
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Joby Warrick (born August 4, 1960) is an American journalist who has won multiple Pulitzer Prizes. He began working for The Washington Post in 1996, writing about the Middle East, diplomacy and national security. He has also covered the intelligence community, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) proliferation and the environment, and served as a member of the Post’s investigative unit.
“Bloodthirsty fanatics who regarded all Western inventions and practices as works of the devil, they saw themselves as divinely appointed to purify the region by slaughtering all who allied with foreigners or deviated from their narrow vision of Islam.” 5 likes
“In deciding to use the unsung Zarqawi as an excuse for launching a new front in the war against terrorism, the White House had managed to launch the career of one of the century’s great terrorists.” 3 likes
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