From Publishers Weekly
Cockburn (The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq), a veteran Middle East correspondent for The Independent, knew the Iraq occupation was doomed when, in 2004, his Irish passport saved him from certain death at the hands of Mehdi Army militiamen convinced he was an American spy: "Bush and Blair never seemed to understand that the problem was not training or equipment, but legitimacy and loyalty." Building on this idea, Cockburn takes a close look at Muqtada al-Sadr, the country's major Shi'ite opposition leader, who has been consistently demonized and belittled by U.S. authorities even as he gains legitimacy among Iraqis. Calling him "the most important and surprising figure to emerge" in post-invasion Iraq, Cockburn details Muqtada's rise, beginning in 1999 when he took his assassinated father's place as head of the Sadrists, a populist religious movement. Mounting frustration toward the U.S. led many to join the Sadrists, the only Shia group to oppose outright the occupation, quickly making Muqtada the political representative of millions. Cockburn's incisive critique of U.S. policy mistakes in Iraq goes back to the first invasion, and draws some dire conclusions, among them that it's too late for Iraq "to exist as anything more than a loose federation." This probing look at a singularly divisive, undoubtedly important figure makes an invaluable resource for anyone weighing U.S. policy in Iraq.
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"Patrick Cockburn is, quite simply, the best Western journalist at work in Iraq today. And now he comes forward to warn us that the end game there is near, and we'd better pay much more attention to Muqtada al-Sadr. Cockburn takes us behind the clich?s and half-truths to describe a complicated political operative who will play a huge role in the power struggle that is sure to come."-- Seymour Hersh
is the story of Iraq's least known political figure who, unfortunately for the United States, is arguably its most important. Patrick Cockburn draws on thirty years' experience covering Iraq and his own extraordinary courage to produce this gripping account of the Shiite cleric and his Sadrist movement."-- Peter W. Galbraith
"No serious student of Iraq has failed to incur a debt to the intrepid and intelligent Patrick Cockburn."-- Christopher Hitchens
"Patrick Cockburn is one of the few journalists who has covered the Iraq crisis almost from its beginning. His peerless reporting has been instrumental in uncovering the true dimensions of the tragedy of Iraq. His new book on Muqtada al-Sadr and the radical Shia of Iraq is probing and perceptive."-- Ali Allawi
"No subject could be more important and, of course, Patrick Cockburn knows Iraq as few foreigners do. The right writer and the right book."-- David Rieff
"It is hard to imagine anyone, I mean any other Westerner, getting a clearer take on this slippery and moody character." -- Dexter Filkins, The New Republic
"Americans need to learn more about [Muqtada], and Cockburn's empathetic, thoughtful study is a good place to start." -- Vali Nasr, The Washington Post
"What other Western journalist writes about Iraq with the intimacy and feel of Patrick Cockburn? This is a brilliant book." -- Martin Amis