Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History

Susan Meiselas, 6 Jun 2008

Kurdistan was erased from world maps after World War I, when the victorious powers carved up the Middle East, leaving the Kurds without a homeland. Today the Kurds, who live on land that straddles the borders of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, are by far the largest ethnic group in the world without a state.

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A Modern History of the Kurds

David McDowall, 24 Oct 2003

In this detailed history of the Kurds from the 19th century to the present day, McDowall examines the interplay of old and new aspects of the struggle, the importance of local rivalries within Kurdish society, the enduring authority of certain forms of leadership and the failure of modern states to respond to the challenge of Kurdish nationalism.

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The Kurds: A Concise History And Fact Book

Mehrdad Izady, 27 Oct 1992

Since before the dawn of history, the mountainous lands of the northern Middle East have been home to the Kurds. Labelled mountain Turks in Turkey and Umayyad Arabs in Syria and Iraq, and coupled with the outright denial of their existence in Iran and Soviet Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, there is much confusion over the identity of the Kurds themselves.

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Invisible Nation: How the Kurds’ Quest for Statehood Is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East

Quil Lawrence, 7 July 2009

The American invasion of Iraq has been a success for one group: the Kurds. For centuries they have yearned for official statehood—and now, as one of the accidental outcomes of the invasion, the United States may have helped them take a big step toward that goal. Informed by his deep knowledge of the people and region, Quil Lawrence’s intimate and unflinching portrait of the Kurds and their heretofore quixotic quest offers a vital and original lens through which to contemplate the future of Iraq and the surrounding Middle East.

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To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise: With historical notices of the Kurdish tribes and the Chaldeans of Kurdistan

Ely Banister Soane, originally published in 1912

The place names are familiar to anyone who watches the evening news: Kurdistan. Kirkuk. Mosul. Baghdad. In the early 1900s, author ELY BANISTER SOANE (1881-1923) journeyed across Mesopotamia and Southern Kurdistan and make a record of what he heard and saw, from ancient tribal enmities to modern customs, such as drinking in coffeehouses. Personal and intimate, this traveler’s tale turns a Western eye on the mysteries of the Middle East.

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Two Years in Kurdistan; Experiences of a Political Officer, 1918-1920

William Rupert Hay, originally published in 1921

Detailing two years in the life of a British political officer charged with establishing and maintaining British rule in the Kurdish district of Arbil in Iraq, this personal account provides a thorough discussion of Kurdish society from the viewpoint of Captain William Rupert Hay. Chronicling the British government’s desperate attempts to establish a civil administration in Iraq just after World War I, Two Years in Kurdistan shows how, as member of the Indian Political Service, Captain Hay attempted to bring British rule to his corner of Iraq.

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Road Through Kurdistan: Travels in Northern Iraq

A. M. Hamilton, originally published in 1937

In 1928, A.M. Hamilton travelled to Iraqi Kurdistan, having been commissioned to build a road that would stretch from Northern Iraq, through the mountains and gorges of Kurdistan and on to the Iranian border. Now called the Hamilton Road, this was, even by today’s standards, a considerable feat of engineering and remains one of the most strategically important roads in the region. In this colourful and engaging account, Hamilton describes the four years he spent overcoming immense obstacles – disease, ferocious brigands, warring tribes and bureaucratic officials – to carve a path through some of the most beautiful but inhospitable landscape in the world.

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A Thousand Sighs, a Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistan

Christiane Bird, 2004

Though the Kurds played a major military and tactical role in the United States’ recent war with Iraq, most of us know little about this fiercely independent, long-marginalized people. Now acclaimed journalist Christiane Bird, who riveted readers with her tour of Islamic Iran in Neither East Nor West, travels through this volatile part of the world to tell the Kurds’ story, using personal observations and in-depth research to illuminate an astonishing history and vibrant culture.

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My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Family’s Past

Ariel Sabar, 13 Oct 2009

In a remote corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an enclave of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers and humble peddlers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born. Yona’s son Ariel grew up in Los Angeles, where Yona had become an esteemed professor, dedicating his career to preserving his people s traditions. Ariel wanted nothing to do with his father s strange immigrant heritage until he had a son of his own.

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The Man in Blue Pyjamas: Prison Memoir in the Form of a Novel

Jalal Barzanji, 1 April 2011

From 1986 to 1989 poet and journalist Jalal Barzanji endured imprisonment and torture under Saddam Hussein’s regime because of his literary and journalistic achievements in writing that openly explores themes of peace, democracy, and freedom. It was not until 1998, when he and his family took refuge in Canada, that he was able to consider speaking out fully on these topics. This literary memoir is the project Barzanji worked on while in exile, and it is the first translation of his work from Kurdish into English.

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Life for us

Choman Hardi, 30 September 2004

Charting the life of exile and displacement, terror and betrayal, repression and the subjugation of women, family love, flight, survival, and the mixed blessings of a mixed marriage in Britian, this book is a collection of poetry.

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The Ocean in a Jar: The Rubayat of Baba Tahir Hamadani

Baba Tahir Hamadani, 7 September 2006

Baba Tahir Hamadani originally composed the quatrains in this book about a thousand years ago. Centuries before Jelaluddin Rumi, Hafez and Jami, we see clearly set out the preoccupations, themes and symbols that have characterised Persian poetry right down to the present day.

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Iraqi Poetry Today

Edited by Saadi Simawe and Daniel Weissbort, 2003

For two decades, since the Iraq-Iran war in 1980, Iraq has been the focus of numerous political, economic, sociological, military, and geopolitical studies. However, very little has been published on the Iraqi literary tradition. Modern Iraq has produced a highly complex literature of survival in response to various realities of oppression and to challenges of modernism. Translators include Naomi Shibab Nye, Ellen Dore Watson, Daniel Weissbort, and Ferial Ghazoul.

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The Kurds of Iraq

Michiel Hegener, 2009

The Kurds of Iraq have been making headlines for many decades: in the eighties and early nineties mostly as victims of brutal suppression, in the mid-nineties as victims of each others heavy in-fighting, and since then mainly through their success in achieving a high degree of independence and prosperity within Iraq.

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Fire, Snow and Honey: Voices from Kurdistan

Gina Lennox, 1 Jan 2001

“Fire, Snow and Honey” is a landmark book, which lifts many veils of secrecy. For the first time Kurdish men and women, aged between 23 to 103 – including freedom fighters and soldiers, mothers and musicians, doctors, teachers, and scholars, villagers and city people – describe their ancient and modern history, culture and life experiences.

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Kurdistan – a Nation Emerges

Jonathan Fryer, 31 August 2010

Kurdistan is one of the Middle East’s great recent success stories. The area occupies much of what is now northern and north-eastern Iraq. The Kurds have a distinguished and eventful history; their capital, Erbil, claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited city. Occupying strategically important lands and formidable mineral reserves, the region has from ancient times been a magnet for invaders. Using new and archive photographs and detailed maps, this book vibrantly presents Kurdistan’s story for a modern readership.

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The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder Traced

Stephanie Dalley, 23 May 2013

The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon is an exciting story of detection involving legends, expert decipherment of ancient texts, and a vivid description of a little-known civilization. Recognised in ancient times as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the legendary Hanging Garden of Babylon and its location still remains a mystery steeped in shadow and puzzling myths.

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Christianity in Iraq

Suha Rassam, 5 Jan 2010

Christianity was firmly established in Iraq from the earliest times, and the Churches of Iraq were to play a major role in the development of Christian theology and spirituality for many centuries. By the seventh century evangelization from Iraq had brought Christianity to China, Central Asia and India. Yet few people in the West are aware of Christianity’s vibrant past in this region, or of the fact that Christianity has continued to be a significant cultural and religious presence in Iraq right up to the present day.

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