In This Review

The Creation of Iraq, 1914-1921
The Creation of Iraq, 1914-1921
By Reeva Spector Simon and Eleanor H. Tejirian
Columbia University Press, 2004, 200 pp

Observers of late have dusted off the history of the United Kingdom's occupation of Iraq and would-be nation building there (begun during the latter years of World War I) to set alongside the U.S. effort some nine decades later and, in the process, offer a cautionary tale. Here is a well-executed collective effort to present the first part of that comparative history -- the Iraqi-British story. Indeed, coverage includes more than just bilateral confrontation. Piecing together the always multidimensional nature of Middle East diplomacy are separate chapters treating the negotiations that created the Iraqi-Turkish border as well as the Iraqi-Iranian border, the role of oil, the declining role of Russia and the peripheral role of the United States, plus a chapter placing Iraq in the ongoing "Eastern Question" diplomacy. Other chapters treat the Kurds, Basra, and Baghdad. All these contributions blend into a succinct yet comprehensive account of this period. And, yes, The Creation of Iraq does illustrate both the continuing characteristics of great-power interventions in the Middle East and the constants that any occupier must face in Iraq.