They Will Have to Die Now
Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate
by James Verini
Pub Date 01 Oct 2019
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A searing narrative of the Battle of Mosul, described by the Pentagon as “the most significant urban combat since World War II.”
In this masterpiece of war journalism based on months of frontline reporting, National Magazine Award winner James Verini describes the climactic battle in the struggle against the Islamic State. Focusing on two brothers from Mosul and their families, a charismatic Iraqi major who marched north from Baghdad to seize the city with his troops, rowdy Kurdish militiamen, and a hard- bitten American sergeant, Verini describes a war for the soul of a country, a war over and for history.
Seeing the battle in a larger, centuries- long sweep, he connects the bloody- minded philosophy of the Islamic State with the ancient Assyrians who founded Mosul. He also confronts the ways that the American invasion of Iraq not only deformed that country, but also changed America like no conflict since Vietnam.
About the Author: James Verini is a Contributing Writer at the New York Times Magazine and National Geographic. He has also written for The New Yorker, The Atavist, and other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award and a George Polk Award.
“They Will Have to Die Now is the story of what happened after most Americans stopped paying attention to Iraq. It’s a small miracle that a writer as good as James Verini witnessed the Battle of Mosul. His book is erudite, humane, bleakly funny, and unbearably sad. It will take its place among the very best war writing of the past two decades.” - George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate and The Unwinding
“Verini’s firsthand account of the Battle of Mosul is a thing of terrible beauty.” - Jonathan Franzen
“They Will Have to Die Now is a vivid, captivating, compelling, and graphic account of the major battle against the Islamic State in Iraq, the Battle for Mosul—site of the Biblical Nineveh and capital of the province where I was privileged to serve in the first year of the war in Iraq. James Verini conveys brilliantly the often tragic ancient and modern history of Iraq, and he captures superbly the brutal reality of one of the most intense urban battles since World War II. In so doing, he describes the terrible hardships experienced by the Moslawis and both the worst and the best of mankind in war, contrasting the barbaric actions of the jihadists with the desires of those who tried to rescue and to rebuild—but who nonetheless had to inflict enormous damage on the city they sought to liberate.” - Gen. David Petraeus, (US Army, Ret.), former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and former director of the CIA
“James Verini plunges you into the heart of the climactic battle of the Iraq War and won’t let you leave. He seems to be everywhere, gets to know everyone, vividly chronicles everything he sees and hears—and never once calls attention to himself. The weapons may be new—drones and iPads and executions on YouTube—but the blood and confusion and betrayal are as old as war itself. They Will Have To Die Now is an astonishment.” - Geoffrey C. Ward, coauthor of Ken Burns’s The Civil War, The War, and The Vietnam War
“James Verini’s book stands comparison with the pathbreaking works of modern war journalism that meld into great literature. One has to go back to the Vietnam War and Michel Herr’s Dispatches to find such a vivid, poignant, and historically grounded narrative of an appalling war; a war caused no little by the misdeeds, missteps, and malevolence of the myriad powers and forces that have tried to dominate the Middle East.” - Ali Allawi, former minister of finance, defense, and trade of Iraq
“James Verini has written an urgent, scalding, hallucinatory work of war reportage, in the tradition of Michael Herr and Philip Gourevitch. His account of the Battle of Mosul, based on nearly a year of close-up, grunt’s-eye-view, on-the-ground reporting captures the horror, the nobility, and the sheer grinding absurdity of twenty-first-century warfare, in which one catastrophic conflict only begets the next, and soldiers coordinate advances on smartphones, using WhatsApp. Imbued with a deep appreciation for the Iraqi people and their history and laced with the acid humor of the battlefield, They Will Have to Die Now is a significant achievement.” - Patrick Radden Keefe, New York Times best-selling author of Say Nothing
“Tough, smart, and vivid, this is a book that renders war and battle with the deft hand of a fine writer. It will haunt you, engage you, and stay with you.” - Susan Orlean, New York Times best-selling author of The Orchid Thief
“What happens in the long fight to take a city? Who flees and who stays behind? What survives and what many kinds of damage are done? With the eye of a novelist and a historian’s sweep, James Verini tells a moving, gripping, complexly layered story of Mosul, from the private calamities of its present to the buried dynasties of its past.” - Larissa MacFarquhar, author of Strangers Drowning
“A deadly accurate, richly illuminating, profoundly saddening work.” - Gen. Merrill McPeak, US Air Force, Ret.
“Verini has written the definitive account of one of the most pivotal and bitter military campaigns of the modern era: the battle to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS. This isn’t typical military history, though, but rather an intimate and deeply compassionate eyewitness account of what happens to ordinary people who find themselves living on the world’s cruelest battlefield, the compromises they must make to stay alive. By turns poignant and harrowing, shocking and inspiring, this is war reporting at its very best.” - Scott Anderson, author of Lawrence in Arabia