This is not a book about Iraq's history or an inventory of the many Middle Eastern wars that have consumed the nation over the past several decades. This is the tale of a people who once lived under the rule of a megalomaniacal leader who shaped the state in his own image; a people who watched a foreign army invade, topple that leader, demolish the state, and then invent a new country; who experienced the horror of having their home fragmented into a hundred different cities.
Offers not simply an account of Iraq’s troubles but a powerful and beautifully written portrait of the soul and psychology of a nation reeling from one cataclysm to the next ... Mr. Abdul-Ahad delicately evokes the fears and hopes of a nation eager to be rid of Saddam but fearful of the consequences ... Early in the book, images of violence are visceral and shocking ... There is a challenge and a steely optimism there, one that would have rattled my confidence back in 2007, but that gives me hope in 2023.
An engaging blend of memoir, reportage and interviews. It is a story of catastrophic societal breakdown ... Interviews shed light on the personal motivations of ordinary Iraqis who participated in sectarian terrorism ... The book is a bracing read, punctuated by accounts of violence, torture and extortion.