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Kanan Makiya's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Kanan Makiya recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Kanan Makiya's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Forever War

From the front lines of the battle against Islamic fundamentalism, a searing, unforgettable book that captures the human essence of the greatest conflict of our time.

Through the eyes of Dexter Filkins, the prizewinning New York Times correspondent whose work was hailed by David Halberstam as “reporting of the highest quality imaginable,” we witness the remarkable chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continued with the attacks of 9/11, and moved on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Filkins’s narrative moves across a vast and various...
Recommended by Kanan Makiya, and 1 others.

Kanan MakiyaIraq is a country with a particularly violent history of formation. In this book you capture a flavour of some of the human complexity that history left behind. (Source)

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Drawn from the first-hand accounts of eyewitnesses, Roy Mottahedeh's account of Islam and politics in revolutionary Iran is widely regarded as one the best records of that turbulent time ever written. less
Recommended by Kanan Makiya, and 1 others.

Kanan MakiyaAlthough this is not a book about Iraq, it is still deeply relevant to later Iraqi history of the 1980s and 90s. It tells the story of the Iranian revolution. (Source)

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Iraq Since 1958

From Revolution to Dictatorship

Iraq Since 1958 is the definitive political history of modern Iraq from the
fall of the Hashemite monarchy until today. As the world prepares for war,
it provides a critical analysis of those issues that have dominated Iraqi
affairs over the last half-century and will continue to do so in the years
to come -- with or without Saddam Hussein. Iraq Since 1958 covers
everything from the structure and ideology of the Ba'thist regime that has
ruled since 1968, the nature of the Iraqi economy, tribalism, sectarianism,
religious divisions within Iraq,...
Recommended by Kanan Makiya, and 1 others.

Kanan MakiyaThis is a political as opposed to a social economic history of Iraq in the wake of the fall of the monarchy and the overthrow of the old parliamentary system established by the British in the 1920s. (Source)

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The Shi'is of Iraq

The Shi'is of Iraq provides a comprehensive history of Iraq's majority group and its turbulent relations with the ruling Sunni minority. Yitzhak Nakash challenges the widely held belief that Shi'i society and politics in Iraq are a reflection of Iranian Shi'ism, pointing to the strong Arab attributes of Iraqi Shi'ism. He contends that behind the power struggle in Iraq between Arab Sunnis and Shi'is there exist two sectarian groups that are quite similar. The tension fueling the sectarian problem between Sunnis and Shi'is is political rather than ethnic or cultural, and it reflects the... more
Recommended by Kanan Makiya, and 1 others.

Kanan MakiyaNakash really breaks new ground in our knowledge of how the modern Shi’is of Iraq were formed. He shows us that they were formed by essentially a process of settlement by the nomadic tribes of Iraq. (Source)

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This comparative study analyses the traditional elite of Iraq and their successors – the Communists, the Ba’thists and Free Officers – in terms of social and economic relationships in each area of the country. The author draws on secret government documents and interviews with key figures, both in power and in prison, to produce an engrossing story of political struggle and change.

Hanna Batatu was born in 1926 in Jerusalem. He immigrated to the United States in 1948, receiving his PhD from Harvard University in 1960. Apart from research fellowships at Harvard, MIT, and...
Recommended by Patrick Cockburn, Kanan Makiya, and 2 others.

Patrick CockburnBatatu was the great Iraqi historian – a man of perception and gigantic knowledge of the social, sectarian and ethnic background in Iraq. (Source)

Kanan MakiyaThis book is over 1,000 pages and took Batatu over 20 years to write. It is based on primary sources that had never been accessible before. (Source)

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