A Soldier's Story: From Ottoman Rule to Independent Iraq: The Memoirs of Jafar Al-Aksari

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9780954479206: A Soldier's Story: From Ottoman Rule to Independent Iraq: The Memoirs of Jafar Al-Aksari
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Born in Iraq in 1885, Jafar Pasha Al-Askari played a colourful part in the events that led to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, and in the foundation of modern Iraq in the 1920s and 1930s. These memoirs, published in English for the first time, shed a vivid light on the creation of modern Iraq as experienced by one of its prime movers, and provide a timely reminder of the obstacles to building an open Iraqi state.

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Review:

“One of the most interesting books on Iraq’s early national history. ... Jafar Pasha’s memoir is eloquent in its brevity and is prescient in addressing the problems of Iraq in 1932 and 2003.” (Judith S. Yaphe Middle East Journal, Spring 2004)

“A superb production of Jafar Pasha’s memoirs, with a historical introduction and epilogue ... and a few of Jafar’s own writings. All have relevance for anyone wishing to understand the present situation in Iraq. ... The production is meticulous, with clear and helpful maps. The book is illustrated by a superb collection of carefully selected photographs. ... Altogether an admirable monument to an engaging man.” (Peter Clark Asian Affairs)

“The Ottoman background to the modern Arab world is brilliantly delineated in A Soldier’s Story. ... Fifty wonderful photographs show Jafar Pasha’s many lives. The footnotes are a treasure-trove of information about Arab leaders of the first half of the twentieth century.” (Philip Mansel Beirut Daily Star)

“This publication in English of Jafar al-Askari’s memoirs of his eventful career in Ottoman, then British and Arab military service, followed by his leading political role under King Feisal, first in Syria and then in British-mandated Iraq, comes a at most topical moment. ... Jafar’s lively story mirrors the wider Arab renaissance. [His] sixteen years of devoted service to the new Iraqi state ... included two spells as Prime Minister and five in charge of defence and foreign affairs. ... This section of the book is replete with parallels to the animosities and upheavals which have bedevilled the present US-led occupation of Iraq. ... Jafar never sought to minimise the complexity and instability that have characterised Iraq’s political inheritance. Seventy years on the experience of his pioneering generation has been conspicuously ignored.” (Alan Munro Middle East International, 2004)

“Askari’s development as an Arab nationalist, and his crucial role in the Arab Revolt and subsequent career in the foundation of the modern state of Iraq ... place him in the center of movements whose reverberations are still felt today. ... the ample footnotes and appendices ... round out the life of one of the region’s most fascinating and influential characters.” (Kyle Pakka Aramco World Magazine, Sept/Oct 2004)

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