Henner Fürtig. Concise History of Iraq. C.H. Beck: München, 2003. 171 pp., 9,90 € [in German only: Kleine Geschichte des Irak]
Henner Fürtig addresses his book to the great number of interested people who may be worried and concerned at the same time. Consequently it is a book on the current situation. Pre-Christian, pre- and early Islamic Mesopotamia as well as the Osmanic, British and German influence in Iraq until the time of the two World Wars are only touched upon briefly. Although numerous well-known persons are referred to, like T.E. Lawrence and King Faisal, others (e.g. Hajj Amin al-Hussaini) will be recognized only by very well informed readers. The attraction of oil especially for Great Britain and the resulting obstacles for the independence of Iraq until 1958 are made clear. A description of the Baath Party and the end of monarchy in 1958 concludes part 1. A very readable part 2 describes the accession to power of Saddam Hussein until 1979. Also examined are problems connected to the mix of peoples and religions in Iraq, the lacking internal unity of the republic and the “alien element” of the Kurds. The background of the Kuwait campaign is explained conclusively, but there is no map on the territorial conflicts between Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Part 3 describes the regime of Saddam Hussein, the causes and results of the two Gulf Wars as well as the role of the USA. The developments between 2001 and 2003 and the situation of the exile opposition constitute part 4. Concerning dates and names, less would have been more, undoubtedly. But those undeterred by this are rewarded with valuable information and an appealing presentation of central facts.