Synopses & Reviews
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.
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.
Table of Contents
Ancient Mesopotamia, world heritage under threat / McGuire Gibson -- Baghdad in the golden age / Shams C. Inati -- The question of the "artificiality" of Iraq as a nation-state / Hala Fattah -- Iraqi contemporary art / May Muzaffar -- The performance of traditional music in Baghdad / Scheherazade Qassim Hassan -- Iraqi's literary contributions / Hussein N. Kadhim -- Society and culture of Iraq and Iran / Thomas Ricks -- The Iraqi Christian community / Shams C. Inati -- Notes on the Jews of Iraq / Meer S. Basri -- The Iraqi Shi°as / Joyce N. Wiley -- The Kurdish issue / Edmund Ghareeb -- Assault on Iraq's environment / Rania Masri -- Sanctions and the Iraqi economy / Abbas Alnasrawi -- Women, gender relations, and sanctions in Iraq / Nadje al-Ali -- Water and oil never mix except in the Middle East / Atif Kubursi -- The U.S.'s undeclared war against Iraq / Elsayed M. Omran -- America's war against Iraq, 1990-2002 / Naseer Aruri.