cover image The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East

The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East

Patrick Cockburn. Verso, $29.95 (460p) ISBN 978-1784784492

In this sweeping portrait, renowned journalist Cockburn (The Rise of Islamic State) synthesizes the maelstrom of conflicts that have enveloped the Middle East and North Africa since September 11, 2001. The book combines contemporary, on-the-ground dispatches and diaries with incisive retrospective analyses to cover the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war, the Taliban’s resurgence, the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, and the rise of Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) . Cockburn possesses authoritative knowledge of the region’s culture, politics, and history, and his perceptive, pessimistic forecasts have regularly been proven correct . His sober, informed, and insightful analyses are unique and invaluable for navigating the complexity of the region in its “age of chaos and war.” Cockburn attributes much of the region’s turmoil to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 —“the earthquake whose aftershocks we still feel”—which forms the book’s core. He reveals glaring gaps between Western government and media discourse and the reality on the ground; the ignorance, arrogance, and ineptitude of Western powers are common themes. Cockburn’s account of the Arab Spring is limited, but he offers a wealth of insight on the rise of Islamic State as well as fascinating tidbits on journalistic practice and risk assessment in conflict zones. This work is likely to be a reference for future scholars. Cockburn’s dispatches make for a somber, vivid, and gripping work of eyewitness history. [em](Oct.) [/em]