The organizing theme of this book is the impact of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War on the two states -- but since nothing in the Middle East is adequately explained in bilateral terms or without reference to the past, the chapters range further in time and space. Shaul Bakhash provides a fine overview of Iranian-Iraqi relations from 1930 to 1980. Richard Schofield studies the Shatt al Arab border dispute. M. R. Izady records the politics of Iraqi Kurds while fitting that story into the larger Kurdish arena beyond Iraq (with especially useful maps). Farideh Farhi appraises the impact of the brutal eight-year conflict on the "war generation" of Iran, and Faleh Jabar does the same for Iraq. Gerd Nonneman traces the shifting diplomacy of the Persian Gulf states during those years. Joost Hiltermann addresses the sad history and bleak consequences of international silence in the face of Iraqi use of chemical weapons, and Rosemary Hollis gives an overview of a half century of U.S. involvement with Iran and Iraq. All the authors have written extensively on their chosen subjects elsewhere, and the challenge of distilling their knowledge into succinct chapters here has been successfully met.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.