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Muqtada Al-Sadr and the Battle for the Future of Iraq

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  224 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Time magazine listed him as one of its "100 People Who Shape Our World." Newsweek featured him on its cover under the headline "How Al-Sadr May Control U.S. Fate in Iraq." Paul Bremer denounced him as a "Bolshevik Islamist" and ordered that he be captured "dead or alive." Who is Muqtada al-Sadr, and why is he so vital to the future of Iraq and, arguably, the entire Middle ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 21st 2008 by Scribner (first published 2008)
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May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any one wishing to understand Iraq better
Muqtada is a well write and informative book. The title is a bite missing leading. The book covers the history of the Shia in Iraq, the rise of the al-Sadr family and also Muqtada’s rise in recent years. Cockburn explores the complexities of the issue and refutes the idea that if the US had taken out Muqtada in the early months of the occupation his party and the Mehdi Army would have gone away. This is a worthy read for any one wishing to understand Iraq today and the reason everything went so ...more
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to understand iraq today
Shelves: middle-east
Cockburn is one of the few journalists writing on Iraq that is doing a good job of it. The first half of this book lays out the context for Muqtada'a rise to the top of the Shia resistance in Iraq, starting with the death of Imam Ali up to the horrid repression of the Shia under Saddam. Cockburn clearly lays out the context for Muqtada's ability to become the leader of millions of Shia underclass and the most formidable opponent to the U.S. regime. His reporting is even handed and detailed, whic ...more
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The name sake of this book is not introduced until over halfway through the book. Before this, we are treated to the context in which the Shia--primarily the poor Shia--found themselves at the end of Saddam's rule. Particularly relevant is the history of martyrs the Shia revere and the recent history of Shi'ism in Iraq. This book should be read by anyone professing to have current knowledge of Iraq.

Currently, there are three main Shia factions in the Iraqi government:

-The SIIC was formerly the
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a valuable book if you want to understand the religious context behind the political struggle in Iraq today. Violent circumstances forged the personality of the "firebrand cleric" and precipitated his rise to leadership of the major grassroots political movement in Iraq. Muqtada has personally experienced what Iraqi citizens as a whole and Shiites in particular have gone through. It is not fun reading. I don't think we have no idea what we have done, what we are doing, or what we have go ...more
Saddam fell in 2003. World witnessed the fall in shock and awe as US bombed Iraq. "The US liberated Iraq from Saddam's atrocity"

Did they? Is it the complete truth? What was on US agenda when they went for him? How much is known what happened to Iraq post that? How many of us know the rise of ISIS began from Al Qaeda of Iraq. That US worked hand in hand with Saddam to fight against Iran? That US provided the exact locations of the enemy to Saddam so that he can use chemical weapons, the very rea
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A balanced and readable account of the machinations of Shi'ism in Iraq. Although framed around Muqtadah al-Sadr, the volume provides an overview of not only the history of modern Shi'ism in Iraq, but also provides an insights on how this different strand of Islam operates in the lives of the Shi'a faithful. Since there are a lot of misconceptions about Shi'ism amongst Sunni Muslims, this book offers not only a detailed glimpse of what's going on inside post-invasion Iraq, but an introduction to ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
This book is both an invaluable work about Iraq, and kind of a mess. It's a mess because so little information can be obtained directly about Muqtada. Cockburn has done a good job of pulling together what can be gotten, though he ends up with a book that's more about the history of Shiite Iraq than a bio of Muqtada. The story is far from ended, and it seems to hit a brick wall in the last chapter, but some of that is simply because there's no end to the story yet.

I learned a LOT about Shiite his
Muhammad Ahmad
Jun 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patrick Cockburn, one of UK's finest journalists who has covered Iraq for nearly three decades, follows on his earlier account of Iraq since the US-UK invasion, "The Occupation", with an immensely important new book. "Muqtada" provides much needed background on of the most important political players in Iraq today who, more than any other, is in a position to determine whether Iraq can survive as a national unit. As Cockburn reveals, far from being the catspaw of Iran that the Western mainstream ...more
Yonis Gure
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rarely is reportage and coverage on the Middle East contextualized. Thus, it is incumbent upon journalists like Cockburn and Fisk to help put this ever-changing and complex region in its proper historical context for the laymen to understand. “Muqtada”, by Patrick Cockburn, is less a biography about the most important man to have emerged during the U.S-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, and more about the complexities of Shia politics in the country and how this came to shape Muqtada’s movemen ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Very informative book ability the politocal and religious situation in Iraq from the invasion of Kuwait till the American attack in 2003. I had never really digested the It is mind boggling that the great nation of United States which was seething in anger after the terrorist attack on 9/11 and commanded so much sympathy as a result of the human carnage on its innocent citizens, could be the instigator of not one but two completely needless and vicious atomic bomb attacks on Japanese cities teem ...more
May 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
After reading "The Looming Tower," I've become very fascinated with the development of modern terrorism as well as radical Sunni and Shia islam. And of course, following the news as avidly as I do, I've known for years that there is so much more I should know about the situation in Iraq.

A glowing review in Times Book Review turned me on to this title. If you know as little as I did about Shia (I'd say I'm the average NPR listner, no more, no less), the first few chapters can leave your head spi
Muqtada al - Sadr has always been presented in western media as a "firebrand cleric," a radical, and a pawn of Iran. This book paints a portrait of an intelligent, cautious, and politically savvy man who championed the causes of the Shia poor and Iraqi nationalism. This book would be an excellent read for anyone who wants to better understand the political reality of Iraq, as well as the events that led up to the fall of Saddam and the subsequent insurgency. Patrick Cockburn uses a wealth of sou ...more
Tom Schulte
I got this back when Muqtada was prevalent in the news for his battles with Coalition forces from his HQ that seemed to lie in a mosque-cemetery complex. I did not get around to reading it then and was reluctant to pick it up now, since time has passed and Muqtada has gone from emanating an evil, rebellious auro to a political moderate.

However, Muqtada is actually minor or perhaps supporting character in this recent Iraq history focused on the Shia-Sunni divide. Not only is the background of t
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book because it takes the al-Sadr legacy in Iraq seriously. Cockburn explains in detail the role of Muqtada's father and uncle, and the family's relationship to Shi'ism as practiced by millions of Iraqis, most of whom are on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Right now (October, 2008), Muqtada's followers are relatively quiescent, ostensibly because he has instructed his cadres to avoid violence, but this could change in a day, a week, or a month, as Shiite factions jo ...more
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is much less a biography of Muqtada al-Sadr than of the Sadr family in Iraq and Shia politics in that country more generally. Cockburn is an intrepid journalist who has spent decades working in Iraq and documents that country's sectarian unravelling in great detail here.

Given recent events (the rise of ISIS and the corresponding revival of the Mehdi Army) this is a good book to understand the dynamics of Iraq's present Shia government. There's not much of a personal profile of Sadr but in h
Oct 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If only everybody wrote history this way. The only person who is even close is the late great Zinn. This book is a must read for anybody who wants some basic knowledge of Muqtada, of Iraq, of Saddam, of the Middle East, even of the history of the Sunni and Shia. It also makes a convincing argument that at the end of the day our foreign policy has stepped right into the middle of the Sunni/Shia conflict with our various excursions into the Middle East and that we have definitively chosen the Sunn ...more
May 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
As others have pointed out, the title is a bit misleading. It's more about the 2nd and 3rd parts of the subtitle, of which Muqtada plays a large part.

This gives a good overview of the history of Sunni and Shi'ite conflicts in the region, and why the current situation is so complex. This does a good job of shining a light on why there's such a blurred line between "good guys" and "bad guys" in the region.

Not a page turner, but I appreciated the strong objectivity of the narration. Patrick Cockbur
Mujahed Abdullah
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
A great book. I actually found the first half of this book more interesting where the author focuses on the story of two great scholars, Sayed Mohammed Baqir Sadr and Sayed Mohammed Mohammed Sadiq Sadr, what they tried to achieve and how they were martyred. The second half of the book, the author delves into Sayed Muqtada where he states that the man is not the firebrand reactive angry cleric most media outlets make out him to be but rather a deeper character who is politically astute.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good book and well researched. Biography of one of the most controversial leaders in Iraq. Great background into what was really going on in Iraq prior, during and immediately after the invasion by the US. If only we had known more before we went in, we probably would be out by now.
Hussain Al-tahan
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, one of the only books to describe the post war iraq environment in such an accurate way. One can certainly feel as if he is part of the journey when reading it and one gets a feel and sense of the situation inside of iraq after the invasion.
Leo Africanus
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterclass in non-fiction. A totally absorbing analysis of post-Saddam Iraq. One of the few, and perhaps only, successful attempts to offer in-depth coverage of intra-Shia politics amidst the maelstrom of tribal, religious, sectarian and nationalist affiliations that plague modern Iraq.
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable (and quite sympathetic) account of the politics of the Iraqi Shia community under Saddam and after his overthrow. Demystified the rise of Muqtada al-Sadr after the fall of Saddam and much improved my understanding of who his constituents were.
Renee Scherlen
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at the suggestion of Bill. I learned a lot about the Shia as well as Muqtada.
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios-autobios
Not just about Muqtada Al-Sadr but a good way to get some more information on the background to Iraq's recent history and understand why there are no easy solutions. Well written for a wide market.
Daniel Landsman
Informative, but now needs updating. We need to know what this jerk has been up to...
Really enjoyed the information in this book. Iranian involvement in the Iraq conflict is exposed very clearly. Al-Sadr's organization are very dangerous..
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shia sectarian violence in Iraq and ham-fisted U.S. foreign policy

Muqtada now has lots of parliamentary control
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book pointing out just how messed up the US foreign policy has been over the years.
rated it liked it
Jan 28, 2009
rated it it was ok
May 12, 2015
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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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