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What to read on Iraq

Monitor Middle East correspondents Scott Peterson, Dan Murphy, and Jill Carroll recommend the best books on the Iraq war.

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Walk into any bookstore today, and you are bound to find a shelf filled with books on current events in Iraq.

How can a reader far from the fray know what's worth reading? For help, we turned to our in-house experts – the Monitor's Middle East correspondents Scott Peterson, Dan Murphy, and Jill Carroll – who've experienced the conflict in Iraq firsthand and asked them for their top picks.

Peterson calls Spider's Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit (Faber & Faber, 1993) by Alan Friedman "the most detailed account of how senior US officials – former Defense chief Donald Rumsfeld among them – helped clandestinely arm and support Saddam Hussein in his fight against the revolutionary Islamic regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s."


Journalists An­­drew and Patrick Cockburn offer "an invaluable understanding of Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1990s" in Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein (HarperCollins, 1999), says Peterson. The book explains "how the aftermath of the first Gulf War from 1991 – with its sanctions, weapon inspections, and political brinkmanship – set the stage for the eventual US invasion of 2003. Full of on-the-ground reporting and detail, it is the best on this period."


Peterson also recommends Endgame (Simon & Schuster, 1999) by former United Nations weapons in­­spector Scott Ritter. "The book describes the work of the UN inspectors and how some of their efforts were used by the CIA and Western intelligence agen­cies until Ritter resigned in 1998," says Peterson. Ritter "was one of the few US voices before the 2003 war to declare that Iraq had dismantled its weapons programs – which proved to be true."


Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War (Houghton Mifflin, 1993) by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Rick Atkinson offers insight into the United States' 1991 military engagement with Saddam's Iraq. Atkinson had "unparalleled access to US decisionmakers, both military and civilian," says Peterson. By "drawing upon exquisitely detailed sources," Atkinson "explains how the US obsession with Saddam began."


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