Synopses & Reviews
In this insightful analysis, highly-respected expert John Robertson canvases the entirety of Iraqs rich history, from the seminal advances of its Neolithic inhabitants to the aftermath of the American-led invasion and Iraq today. Grounded in extensive research, this balanced account of a country and its people explores the greatness and grandeur of Iraqs achievements, the brutality and magnificence of its ancient empires, its contributions to the emergence of the worlds enduring monotheistic faiths, and the role the great Arab caliphs of Baghdad played in the medieval cultural flowering that contributed so much to the European Renaissance and the eventual rise of the West.
Fascinating and thought-provoking, Robertsons work sheds light on a remarkable story of world history, one that has been too often overlooked. Wide-ranging and extensive in approach, it is sure to be greatly appreciated by historians, students and all those with an interest in this diverse and enigmatic country.
"This vivid and fast-paced book is an enjoyable introduction for the general reader, from the beginnings of human civilization to the recent wholesale destruction of Iraq's archaeological heritage... Robertson's focus on pre-modern Iraq effortlessly blends political and military history with the history of ideas, and flows seamlessly into the present era and the terrible predicament in which the cradle of civilization now finds itself."
"An engaging history ... The making of modern Iraq is just one small slice in this monumental, well-told story."
"Considering its huge span of 6,000 years, the book is surprisingly unhurried...Robertson is never a prisoner of chronology and always finds time for useful asides."
"Iraq matters. Iraq has always mattered and John Robertson's compelling account shows exactly why. Deftly steering a path through five millennia and more, he helps us to see how and why the country's past is always up for grabs, interpreted and reinterpreted in the light of contemporary concerns... An essential read for anyone who wants to understand why Iraq is never far from the headlines."
Eleanor Robson, Professor of Ancient Middle Eastern History, University College London
"The author superbly weaves ancient and medieval historical and cultural development with Iraq's recent history and current sociopolitical turmoil. Few books in English cover Iraq's entire history in such a holistic manner. This highly readable and informative book will be a valuable tool in teaching and research for informed general readers and Middle East specialists."
"This book is a rare find: an authoritative, highly original history that is simply a delight to read. In lucid and appealing prose, Near Eastern historian John Robertson traces the complex story of the region now called Iraq, from its birth in prehistoric times to its central role today in a serious political and cultural crisis with a global impact. In addition to providing his readers with a remarkably clear account of an intricate history, Robertson offers persuasive arguments for why the region is so important today and how its problems, and its still great promise, were shaped both by geography and by thousands of years of recurring political success, struggle, collapse, and rebirth. Anyone who wants to understand the turmoil and potential of modern Iraq should read this book. And anyone who is now teaching the history and culture of the Middle East - ancient or modern - will shout with joy at finally having such a book to offer to students."
Dr. Barbara N. Porter, Director, The Casco Bay Assyriological Institute; research associate, The Harvard Semitic Museum; guest researcher, the Leiden Institute for Area Studies (2015-16)
"It is rare to find a genuinely knowledgeable and expert scholar who can produce a work as accessible and balanced as this volume. John Robertson has provided a compellingly readable and historically informed narrative that establishes the antecedents and conditions still resonating throughout the Middle East today. To understand anything about modern Iraq one must contend with its living history. Beginning with the earliest written records in the third millennium BCE, Robertson takes the reader through Iraq's history, demonstrating the iterative impacts of geography, populations, and intellectual forces. Always informative and never overwhelming, this is a volume that truly must be read by anyone interested in the world we find ourselves occupying today."
Dr. Martha T. Roth - Dean, Humanities Division, the University of Chicago and the Chauncey S. Boucher Distinguished Service Professor of Assyriology, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
In this analysis of Iraq's role in both the Middle East and the world throughout history, John Robertson provides a balanced account that explores the greatness and grandeur of the countrys ancient empires and achievements, its contributions to the emergence of the worlds enduring monotheistic faiths, and the role the great Arab caliphs of Baghdad have played in the great medieval cultural flowering that contributed so much to the European Renaissance and eventual rise of the West. Whereas most histories of Iraq shortchange the pre-modern era, this informative account is wide-ranging and extensive in its approach and will be greatly appreciated by historians, students, and all those with an interest in this diverse and enigmatic country.
About the Author
John Robertson received his B.A. in history from St. Josephs College and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. A professor of Ancient and Middle Eastern Studies at Central Michigan University, he lives in Mount Pleasant, MI.