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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq Paperback – August 1, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joseph Tragert is a marketing development executive at Massachusetts-based EBSCO Publishing, a leading reference database provider. Prior to this, he was a senior associate at KPMG Peat Marwick, where he specialized in Islamic relations and developed the company’s body of knowledge on the politics, economics, and history of Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. He is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Iran and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding North Korea --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Complete Idiot's Guide
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha; 1st edition (August 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028643984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028643984
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,022,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book, and I think it's an excellent primer on Iraq, from Churchill's mistake at its creation to the present day. It's indipensable for putting the current conflict into perspective.
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Format: Paperback
Much if not most of this book is helpful and provides a much needed historical review and provides a context for today's events. Mr. Tragert's handling of ancient history is adequate, but nothing a good ten minutes in an encyclopedia could not equal. His treatment of the Epic of Gilgamesh is mercifully short and he touches lightly upon the similarities between it and the Bible without falling into the trap of claiming this as proof that the Old Testament redactors borrowed this legendary material to include in their own cosmology.
I would have rated his book higher except for one glaring mistake which set my teeth on edge which is the reaction I get when someone scratches a chalkboard with their fingernails over and over again. On page 44 he says, "Like the Greeks who followed them, the Sumerian religions were pantheistic and their gods were anthropomorphic." Feeling like an idiot, I consulted another annoying feature of this book which are the little boxes that appear throughout the text with little "nuggets" of information. This one was "Desert Diction" and defined pantheism as, "...{The} belief in a group of gods where each represents a specific human action, or emotion, or a physical element, such as one for the sun, and one for the moon." Let me guess, a group of gods would be a pantheon (Greek pan means all; theos means god or gods), thus pantheon would mean all of the gods. I may be an idiot, but I am not in kindergarten. What this informational "nugget" has done is define polytheism (poly=many + theoi=gods) not pantheism. Pantheism means all is god; it equates god with the cosmos.

I do have to give Tragert credit in that he misdefines pantheism consistently throughout the book.
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By A Customer on September 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book--it provides a first-rate history of the country and details the rise to power of Saddam Hussein. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
I sure hope the second edition is a bit more objective in its prescriptions for what to do in there, because the first edition reads like a neocon's propaganda ploy for invading the place. Maybe that's why Dubya did it; he's a complete idiot and this book is all he read about the place. It is strong on the ancient history and early 20th century history, but the book turns into hagiography when it gets to Saddam Hussein and all his attempts to obtain WMD. After the Gulf war with all the inspections he was subjected to , all the surveillance, the UN checks, the economic sanctions, is it really logical to believe he'd be able to run a weapons program of the size Dubya, Condi, Dick, Wolfie, and the rest of the vulcans insisted he had? Sorry, but it just fails the laugh test, especially since it would have been so easy even at that time to verify that those aluminum tubes were not suited for centrifuges, that yellowcake had not been obtained at all let alone from Niger, that Saddam had no sympathy for or ties with Al Qaeda, and there was no meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague or anywhere else.
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Format: Paperback
Not updated since the latest Gulf War, (this edition went to press in 2003), this version of the "Idiot's Guide" lacks a clear analysis of the more recent Cheney/Bush intervention into Iraq. Its main benefit is as a compact review of overall Iraqi history and its more recent political history up to the second Gulf war.

The approach, repeated in other "Idiot's Guides," is a fail-proof one. It repeats the same materials three times: first in outline form, then in sketchy overview detail form, and then in full blown "flesh-out" detail. By the third round, the reader begins to think he really "gets it."

The only concern I had throughout the various -- more and more progressive iterations of Iraqi history -- is that a great deal of the "history" turns out to be the "history of various religious faiths," which is known to be a careless mixture of fact, fiction and religious mythology. At the very least, these authors should have warned us whenever the narrative was about to slip more into religious fantasy than historically based fact. Sorting this all out of course was immensely difficult and thus should not have been left as an exercise for the reader. Understandably, there were many periods when no other alternatives existed. Nevertheless, even in those cases, a warning about the "softness" of the facts would have been very helpful. This is especially important due to the fact that religions, more often than not were changing with each of the many conquering regimes.

Of special importance to me was the true nature of the Shia/Sunni split, which occurred during the 7th Century over who was to be considered the proper heir or designated religious authority to Mohammad.
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