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A Soldier's Story: From Ottoman Rule to Independent Iraq: The Memoirs of Jafar Al-Aksari Hardcover – December 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0954479206 ISBN-10: 0954479203

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Arabian Publishing Ltd (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954479203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954479206
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,016,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"One of the most interesting books on Iraq's early national history...Jafar Pasha's memoir is eloquent in its brevity and is prescient in addressing the problems of Iraq in 1932 and 2003." Judith S. Yaphe, Middle East Journal, Spring 2004. "A superb production of Jafar Pasha's memoirs, with a historical introduction and epilogue...and a few of Jafar's own writings. All have relevance for anyone wishing to understand the present situation in Iraq...The production is meticulous, with clear and helpful maps. The book is illustrated by a superb collection of carefully selected photographs...Altogether an admirable monument to an engaging man." Peter Clark, Asian Affairs, March 2004. "The Ottoman background to the modern Arab world is brilliantly delineated in A Soldier's Story...Fifty wonderful photographs show Jafar Pasha's many lives. The footnotes are a treasure-trove of information about Arab leaders of the first half of the twentieth century." Philip Mansel, Beirut Daily Star, 10 April 2004. "This publication in English of Jafar al-Askari's memoirs of his eventful career in Ottoman, then British and Arab military service, followed by his leading political role under King Feisal, first in Syria and then in British-mandated Iraq, comes a at most topical moment...Jafar's lively story mirrors the wider Arab renaissance. [His] sixteen years of devoted service to the new Iraqi state...included two spells as Prime Minister and five in charge of defence and foreign affairs. This section of the book is replete with parallels to the animosities and upheavals which have bedevilled the present US-led occupation of Iraq. Jafar never sought to minimise the complexity and instability that have characterised Iraq's political inheritance. Seventy years on the experience of his pioneering generation has been conspicuously ignored." Alan Munro, Middle East International, 2004 "Askari's development as an Arab nationalist, and his crucial role in the Arab Revolt and subsequent career in the foundation of the modern state of him in the center of movements whose reverberations are still felt today...the ample footnotes and appendices...round out the life of one of the region's most fascinating and influential characters." Kyle Pakka, Aramco World Magazine, Sept/Oct 2004.

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Jafar Al-Askari was a man to admire and he is a man that all Arabs should be proud to call their own. Jafar was one of the bravest soldiers of World War II, out-witting all the Western generals (he fought against the British with the Germans and after the Ottoman Sultan murdered many of his friends, he came to see that Arab lands would never know freedom under the Ottomans; then he switched sides and fought WITH the British.) He won the highest medals from both the German Army and the British Army, and was greatly admired by soldiers from both countries.
This was a man who was so brilliant that he wowed the biggest statesmen of the world. While serving Iraq as Foreign Minister to Iraq, he obtained his law degree in England and became a barrister!
In 1936, Jafar returned to Iraq at the request of the Prime Minister, who happened to be his brother-in-law, and best friend, Nouri Al-Said, the man who ruled Iraq (under King Faisal I, II, and King Ghazi I). Tragically, Jafar was the first of the Iraqi Ministers assassinated, setting off a stream of events that led to Saddam Hussein, the first Gulf War and the second Gulf War. Had Jafar lived, it is believed that the formation of modern day Iraq would have had a much better outcome. Certainly, the wars fought by Iraq against Iran, Kuwait, and the Western governments would have been avoided. Think of the lives that would have been saved if only this one man had lived. Jafar was a statesman who believed in compromise, and he would have led Iraq in a different, more peaceful direction.
This man was the grandfather of the modern day Mayada Al-Askari, whose story is told in Mayada, Daughter of Iraq. Jafar was killed before Mayada was born, but she was told about the wonderful Jafar by her own beloved father, Nizar.
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Format: Hardcover
Born in 1885, Jafar Pasha Al-Askari was firs an Ottoman, second an Arab and in his final days and Iraqi. He completed military training in Germany before the 1914-18 War, and received promotion by the Young Turks government in Istanbul. As an Arab he was also interested in the new Arab nationlism rising up in his home country. During the First World War the Turkish government of Enver Pasha dispatched him to Libya to lead the Sanusi forces in Cyrenaica in 1915-16. His capture by the British and incarceration in Cairo led to a meeting with T. E. Lawrence. In Cairo he realised the Arab cause might best be served by Sharif Hussain of Macca and the Arab Revolt the being led by Lawrence. He was released in March 1917 to take command of the Arab regular forces fighting under the Amir Faisal, later King Faisal I of Iraq, in the Hijaz. In 1919, Jafar was appointed Military Governor of Aleppo. He became one of the first members of the new Iraqi government under the British Mandate, and spent the remainder of his life serving his country as Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, and Iraqi Minister in London. In 1936 he was assassinated outside Baghdad. His memoirs, published here in English for the first time, shed a vivid light on the early days of Arab nationalism and on the creation of modern Iraq. The origins of modern Iraq are present in this insightful volume.

The great value in this book is not the memoirs, which occupy perhaps only half the book, the true gem is in the introduction, epilouge and also the massivly informative footnotes that give details, hostiries and biographies of everyone involved in the politics and campaigns of the period. The footnotes are encyclopedic and anyone interested in the Middle East in the first half of the 20th century would do well to find this book.

Seth J. Frantzman
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Huda Hamid on October 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I recently met the author of Mayada, Daughter of Iraq, and made the wonderful discovery that Jafar Al-Askari, a great Arab hero, is the paternal grandfather of Mayada. It's a wonderful edition to Mayada and I plan on recommending this book to many people. The Al-Askari family was indeed special and had Mayada's grandfather lived (he was assasinated in 1936 when serving as Defense Minister of Iraq)I believe that Iraq's history would have been very different.
This story about Mayada's grandfather is wonderful. I do recommend it, along with the story of Mayada. (That one written by Jean Sasson.)
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