Iraq: Its History, People, and Politics

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9781591020967: Iraq: Its History, People, and Politics
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Despite massive U.S. involvement in Iraq, average Americans really know very little about Iraq or its people. Lost in the daily reports of warfare is any objective information about the daily lives of Iraqis, their ethnic diversity, their rich cultural heritage, and their incredibly ancient history stretching back five thousand years to Mesopotamia, the cradle of world civilization.

This book attempts to add some balance and depth to the misleading, superficial image of Iraq created by the media focus on the war. The contributors, all specialists in Middle Eastern studies and affiliated with a variety of well-respected universities (Villanova University, University of Chicago, Dartmouth, University of Paris, and others), have written interesting and informative, yet nontechnical articles designed to be accessible to a wide circle of readers, including nonspecialists.
The work is divided into five parts. Part I deals with the history and civilization of Iraq, addressing the three most significant aspects: Iraq's magnificent archaeological heritage, reaching back to ancient Mesopotamia; medieval Baghdad (which, among many other achievements, transmitted Greek philosophy to the West); and Iraq's complex and fascinating modern history.

Part II takes up some essential aspects of the culture: art, music, and literature. In these fields, Iraq played and continues to play a highly important and influential role both in and outside the region.
Part III focuses on a few religious and ethnic communities (Christians, Jews, Shiites, and Kurds), whose history and role in the country have been the subject of confusion and misinterpretation, especially in the West. These specific communities are discussed in the context of the Arab majority and in relation to other important religious and ethnic sects, such as the Sunnis, Turkomen, Mandeans, and Yazidis.

Part IV points out the impact of international sanctions on the environment and the economy, and particularly on the lives of women.

Finally, Part V deals with regional and international political issues, with emphasis on the politicization of water and oil, and on U.S. policy toward Iraq.

Editor Shams C. Inati strives for a balanced presentation, without favoring any specific political position.

This superb collection of in-depth essays will enlighten and inform anyone wishing a more complete and fair understanding of Iraq than can be found on television or in newspapers.

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About the Author:

Shams C. Inati (Villanova, PA) is professor of Islamic philosophy and theology at Villanova University. She is the author of The Problem of Evil: Ibn Sina's Theodicy, Ibn Sina and Mysticism, and five other books.

From Publishers Weekly:

There's certainly a need for a book exploring Iraqi history, but this collection of essays, edited by Inati, a professor of Islamic philosophy and theology at Villanova University, is occasionally tendentious and jingoistic. Some of the pieces detail interesting and little-known information on Baghdad's golden age during the Middle Ages and contemporary Iraqi art (pictorial examples are included). Although written by academics with good credentials, some pieces seem directed at fostering Iraqi pride-the country is constantly referred to as a "cradle of civilization" and, more surprisingly, as "tolerant." One article mentions that Jews emigrated en masse from Iraq in the 1950s without exploring why (on the other hand, it does point out that Iraqi Jews are proud of their Iraqi heritage). When the lens is focused on contemporary politics, the pieces can become blatantly biased. One concludes that "Iraqi society is remarkably resilient and will endure," even though many are convinced that only Saddam's brutal policies keep the nation together. Articles on environmental degradation, the status of women and economics focus on the effects of UN sanctions, without mentioning Saddam Hussein's impact on those topics. His less than admirable environmental record, for instance, has been detailed in the media and in other books. And not one essay is devoted to the details of Saddam's dictatorial regime, while U.S. actions in the region receive an entire section laden with emotional rhetoric. Those looking to learn more about Iraq deserve far better than this apparently politically motivated book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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