Verini, who covered the battle for The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic, has written not only a deeply human account of the conflict but also a fascinating historical investigation of Mosul itself ... Verini is a skilled observer of combat ... His descriptions are sharp, as of 'the last-word metallic clangor' of heavy machine guns; and how, in an effort to appear less threatening to communities, 'soldiers had wedged bouquets of pink plastic flowers into the bullet holes in the windscreens of their Humvees' ... Toward the end of Verini is presented with the daunting question of what comes next, and questions his own complicity in the disaster that he has witnessed.
[Verini] ... has written a vivid and bare-knuckles account of the fight against ISIS. They Will Have to Die Now: Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate will stand up with some of the best war reporting. He takes an unblinking look at the dirtiest kind of battle — urban combat — and the human wreckage it leaves in its wake ... Some of his observations may be too harsh for gentle readers ... Still, it's important for readers to understand what the world faces with such groups ... Verini's book is an important firsthand account of the human cost of war, the civilians caught up in this special kind of hell, and the difficulty of fighting a terrorist group in an urban environment. There will be other such fights. Hopefully, reporters of the caliber of James Verini will be on the front lines.
... includes intense battle scenes, discerning historical analysis and edifying anecdotes about technology’s role in modern warfare. These are important elements, but if They Will Have to Die Now: Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate has a defining feature, it’s Verini’s vividly rendered ensemble cast. His real-life characters survived the vicious death cult. Their candidly described sorrows and predicaments give us an unusually nuanced picture of contemporary Iraq ... [Verini] is a reporter who is never in a hurry. His straightforward prose illuminates complex gray areas, reminding us that war is never as clear-cut as it seems on cable news ... he focuses on a finite period and a distinct set of people, and the results are often haunting.
... a painful, moving, and necessary read ... Verini is almost recklessly brave. He embedded himself, whenever he could, with virtually every kind of allied unit fighting ISIS, and he found himself in the middle of the action, constantly. He was present when the snipers opened up, when the car bombs came, and when the mortars fell ... [Verini] was able to capture the truth of war in Iraq (and of Iraq itself) in a way that precious few writers have. In fact, he helped me to make more sense, over a decade later, of my own deployment ... the beauty of Verini’s book is that it explains the 'how' and the 'why' better than any other single volume I’ve read ... Verini gets the little touches right ... Most important, however, he gets the complexity right. He understands the paradoxes ... Through it all, Verini helps you understand ... Verini’s book is an antidote to ignorance. It’s an indispensable account of a fight that no American should forget.
Verini’s deeply reported, beautifully written first-person account results from many months on an extremely dangerous assignment ... Arriving late also means seeing the conflict with fresh eyes ... So his account of Iraqis, both soldiers and civilians, feels fresh, and it presents an occasion to examine the broader questions posed by the conflict’s recent events ... Verini doesn’t bother with tired questions about Islam and whether there is something uniquely pathological about Arabs or Muslims. He does situate the rise of ISIS in age-old atavistic impulses ... combat books can only go so far in documenting the plight of civilians; in Verini’s, anecdotes of officers jauntily disregarding danger, or of the soldiers obscenely taunting one another about their sisters, sometimes blur together or narrowly avoid cheerleading ... Verini does an excellent job of describing the Iraqi leg of the elephant and his starting point: guilt. He assigns much of it to U.S. policies and the leaders in Iraq and elsewhere whom those policies have supported or tolerated ... Verini is right to talk about an entwined Iraq and America.
Journalist Verini offers up a searing account of the battle against the Islamic State in Mosul in 2016 and 2017, focusing not just on the clashes with the jihadi fighters but also on the plight of the people caught in the middle of the battling forces ... Verini presents with sensitivity the bloody and complicated history of the area, the fraught feelings Iraqis have towards America and its involvement in their country, and the way conflict with the Islamic State has ripped families apart. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand this ongoing and tragic conflict.
... exceptional ... One of the strengths of Verini is his eye for detail ... Although Verini is confident in handling war’s black comedy, his book is not funny, nor does it set out to be. It is a poignant and detailed profile, beautifully written, of people in war. The timeline of the battle for the city, which culminated in victory in July 2017 for the Iraqi army and US-led coalition, is seamlessly interwoven with sections on the ascent of Isis, and other chapters describing Mosul’s ancient history ... an exceptional study both of modern war and of the most significant battle in the war against Islamic State. I read each page with relish and gratitude, and on several occasions drummed my heels with delight at the sheer ludicrousness of the horror of it all.
Moving reportage by an American journalist who embedded with the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service and with Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting the Islamic State group ... Throughout the taut narrative, Verini brings us vivid and often heartbreaking stories of everyday Iraqis, occupied and humiliated for eons, enduring yet another war “that nevertheless would not be happening, at least not in this way, if not for the American war that preceded it' ... Verini’s account is startlingly candid and informed, and the author has clearly benefited from some years of distance. He manages to effectively convey the complicated mess on all sides: American, Iraqi, IS ... A deeply thoughtful boots-on-the-ground work about a topic that many of us have stopped thinking about.