Monday, April 6, 2009

The Struggle for Kirkuk: The Rise of Hussein, Oil, and the Death of Tolerance in Iraq

By Henry D. Astarjian

“Among the plethora of recent books on Iraq, this is unique because it offers a provocative view into Iraq's tumultuous past through the eyes of an Iraqi American physician. This is a historical memoir about the struggle over Kirkuk's great oil fields and the crises besetting Iraqi society before the Baath party takeover and rise of Saddam Hussein. Astarjian, the son of Armenian genocide survivors, chronicles Kirkuk's ethnosectarian diversity as Jews, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, Armenians, and Arabs lived together in peace, despite the power plays over the oil fields involving British officials, Soviet agents, and others representing national or ethnic interests. Included are fascinating accounts of the overthrow of the Royal Hashemite regime in 1958, the author's incarceration and torture at the hands of his childhood friend (who had become a communist), and his imprisonment in a Baghdad military prison with Baath party leaders....[t]his is a compelling story about the formative years of modern Iraq, intended to enlighten Americans about the immense challenges and perils facing them in a tragic land. Sadly, it may be too late to make it a must read for US policy makers. Recommended. General readers, lower-division undergraduates through practitioners.”–Choice

“Iraqi-American Astarjian combines memoir with history in describing the oil politics of Kirkuk in Northern Iraq from the 1940s through to the mid 1960s, when he left for America shortly after Saddam Hussein's assassination attempt on Prime Minister Abd-al-Karim Qasim. His description of the political life of Kirkuk during this era gives a small window into the complex forces at work Kurdish versus Arab, Arab versus Turkomen, Communist versus Baathist, etc. and Astarjian is not shy about letting his own anti-communist, anti-Baathist, and other views out into the open.”–Reference & Research Book News



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