Cities, scripts, literature, the rule of law – all were born in Iraq. That so many see this ancient land as nothing more than a violent backwater steeped in chaos is a travesty. This is the place where, for the first 5,000 years of human history, all innovations of worth emerged. It was the cradle of civilization.
In this unrivalled study, John Robertson details the greatness and grandeur of Iraq’s achievements, the brutality and magnificence of its ancient empires and its extraordinary contributions to the world. The only work in the English language to explore the history of the land of two rivers in its entirety, it takes readers from the seminal advances of its Neolithic inhabitants to the aftermath of the American and British-led invasion, the rise of Islamic State and Iraq today. A fascinating and thought-provoking analysis, it is sure to be greatly appreciated by historians, students and all those with an interest in this diverse and enigmatic country.
This paperback edition features a new epilogue, bringing the work up to date and looking ahead to Iraq’s future.
'A fresh and lively discussion of Iraq's 6,000-year history'.
– Middle East Journal
‘There is much to be learnt from this prodigious record of human achievement in the cradle of civilisation.’
– Sunday Times
‘John Robertson’s magnificent Iraq: A History takes a truly long perspective. From the first Sumerian cities over 5,000 years ago, via the great empires of Assyria, Babylonia and Abbasid Baghdad, to the modern Iraqi state, he shows how this complex past has always shaped, and been shaped by, contemporary political concerns.’
– History Today, Best Books of 2015
'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'.
“A rare find: an authoritative, highly original history that is simply a delight to read. Anyone who wants to understand the turmoil and potential of modern Iraq should read this book.”
– Dr. Barbara N. Porter, Director, The Casco Bay Assyriological Institute; research associate, The Harvard Semitic Museum
‘A captivating account... While both engaging and informative, it is not the content alone that is most impressive, but the author’s technique. Unlike most books on Iraq, this one takes its time recounting the region’s history, savouring the richness... Above all else, the book excels in putting events into historical perspective by seeing things not in a Manichean, “the present matters whereas the past is past” perspective.’
“It is rare to find a genuinely knowledgeable and expert scholar who can produce a work as accessible and balanced as this volume. 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 and the Chauncey S. Boucher Distinguished Service Professor of Assyriology, University of Chicago
“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
'John Robertson has been able to walk us through so much of the history that we tend to forget'.
– Camden New Journal
‘A fresh and lively discussion of Iraq’s 6,000-year history... Robertson reminds his readers of the intellectual debt the Western world owes to the peoples that populated the area of Iraq throughout history, hoping they will then see past today’s brutal headlines... His conviction is clearly expressed and poignantly supported throughout this book.’
– The Middle East Journal
“The author superbly weaves ancient and medieval historical and cultural development with Iraq's recent history and current sociopolitical turmoil. VERDICT 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.”
– Library Journal
“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.”
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