From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-The author attempts to cover all of Iraq's history from the earliest shepherds to today's embargoes. He does a good job with most of the ancient history and with explaining the rise of Islam. Spencer clearly explains how society changed as the land was ruled by a variety of foreign interlopers. Unfortunately, mistakes are rampant; it is stated that many of Hammurabi's laws "deal with problems familiar to us today, such as-the purchase and sale of slaves and their owners' obligations toward them." In the modern era, any reference to the grandeur of the past serves only as a reason to mention how bad things are under Saddam Hussein. Later in the book, when discussing Hussein's life, the author gets the math mixed up. He says his subject was born in 1937, which is consistent with other accounts, but then the text reads as though he were 23 years old in 1968, when he became a member of the Revolution Command Council. The nondescript illustrations consist of sketches and mundane black-and-white photographs. The pictures of Hammurabi and Muhammad are switched. Two black-and-white maps show Iraq's relationship to other countries in the Middle East, but offer no detail of the country itself. The mistakes and omissions in this book make it unacceptable.Carol Durusau, Newton County Public Library, Covington, GA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 7-12. Conflict is not new to Iraq, as Spencer reveals in this historical overview of a troubled region, from its Mesopotamian origins to Sadam Hussein's rule. The impact of the ideology of Islam (Spencer uses the term Shias
instead of the more familiar Shiites
) in its various forms is especially well explained. Hussein is treated critically but fairly in the context of a complicated and explosive political situation. Besides source notes and a concise summary of basic facts about the country, there is an extensive bibliography of books (no articles or Web sites), primarily scholarly titles from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Complex sentence syntax and a dry style may discourage less able readers, but for serious students researching the events leading up to the Persian Gulf War or for high schools where Middle Eastern studies are part of the curriculum, Spencer's treatment is both comprehensive and noninflammatory. Catherine AndronikCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved