Readings on the road to war and the still-unfolding aftermath [under construction].
History: Colonialism, Cold War, Gulf War, Sanctions
- Toby Dodge, Inventing Iraq: The Failure of Nation-Building and a History Denied, 2005
- On British colonial rule in Iraq during the 1920s and implications for the present.
- Charles Trip, A History of Iraq, 2007
- A sweeping history of modern Iraq.
- Joseph Sassoon, Saddam’s Ba’th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime, 2012
- On the inner workings of the political organization that ruled Iraq
- Joy Gordin, Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, 2010
- On the post-1991 sanctions that crippled the Iraqi economy.
The Invasion and Its Aftermath
- Robert Draper, To Start a War: how the Bush Administration took America into Iraq, 2020
- An in-depth look at the decision to go to war – excerpt available here
- See also Joseph Stieb on the book’s shortcomings
- James Fallows, Blind into Baghdad: America’s war in Iraq, 2006
- A compilation of essays on the planning and execution of the Iraq war.
- Thomas Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003-2005, 2007
- On the backstory to the invasion of Iraq as well as the failure to anticipate and contain the Iraqi insurgency.
- Richard Bonin, Arrows of the Night: Ahmed Chalabi and the Selling of the Iraq War, 2012
- On the life of Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi and his role in advocating for war with Saddam.
- Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, 2007
- On the fraught efforts to govern Iraq under occupation forces.
Protracted Fighting and Slow Rebuilding
- Sarah Stillman, “The Invisible Army,” The New Yorker, June 6, 2011
- On the vast army of foreign workers that supported the U.S. military presence in Iraq.
- Zaid al-Ali, The Struggle for Iraq’s Future: How Corruption, Incompetence, and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy, 2014
- On failures of governance in Iraq during the American occupation and beyond.
ISIS and Beyond
- Dexter Filkins, “What We Left Behind,” The New Yorker, April 28, 2014
- Sara Pursley, “The Legend of Iraq’s Artificial Borders,” Jadaliyya, June 2, 2015
- A critique of the idea that the essential problem facing Iraq and other Arab countries are their “artificial” borders dating back to the colonial era.
- Tamer el-Ghobashy, “Trade a Lexus for a Prestigious Phone Number? In Iraq, the Best Digits Cost a Mint,” The Washington Post, February 13, 2017
- Economic life in contemporary baghdad.
- Isabel Coles and Ali Nabhan, “After Defeating Islamic State, Iraq’s Shiites Turn Ire toward Government,” The Washington Post, March 12, 2018.
- On the shaky post-war consensus in Iraq.