This is the first title about Muqtada al-Sadr, the most important political figure in post-occupation Iraq, who leads a movement that opposed both Saddam Hussein and the US occupation. The rise of Muqtada has been one of the great surprises of the occupation. At first grossly underestimated by the US, he has become the kingmaker of Iraq and a force that is indispensable to any Iraqi government. His combination of nationalism and religious fervour proved deeply attractive to countless angry and impoverished Iraqi Shia: the Mehdi Army, his devoted militia, now rules half of Baghdad. Far from being the 'firebrand cleric' portrayed in the Western media, Muqtada is an astute and experienced politician who struggles to lead an anarchic mass movement that he only half controls. In a compelling narrative, award-winning war correspondent Patrick Cockburn charts the rise of Muqtada. He examines the Shia uprisings; Muqtada's family background (in particular the martyrdom of his father, Mohammed Sadiq, and his father-in-law, Mohammed Baqir, by Saddam Hussein); his leadership of the 70,000-strong Mahdi army; his links to the Iranians; his ambivalent relations with the Iraqi government; and the botched attempt to kill him by the US. Cockburn has reported from Iraq since 1977, often at great personal risk. Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq combines first-hand accounts of his investigations with vivid and dismaying descriptions of the war, and is one of the few books to be based on interviews with Iraqi eyewitnesses. It is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the tragedy of Iraq - and its potential consequences.
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Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent, has been reporting from Iraq since 1978. He was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting and the James Cameron Memorial Award in 2006. He is the author of The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (shortlisted for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2007), The Broken Boy, a memoir, and, with Andrew Cockburn, Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein.
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