Land Between the Rivers

A 5,000-Year History of Iraq

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Pub Date Sep 10 2024 | Archive Date Sep 10 2024
Grove Atlantic | Atlantic Monthly Press

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Description

The epic, five millennia history of the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that was the birthplace of civilization and remains today the essential crossroads between East and West

At the start of the fourth millennium BC, at the edge of historical time, civilization first arrived with the advent of cities and the invention of writing that began to replace legend with history. This occurred on the floodplains of southern Iraq where the great rivers Tigris and Euphrates meet the Persian Gulf. By 3000 BC, a city called Uruk (from which “Iraq” is derived) had 80,000 residents. Indeed, as Bartle Bull reveals in his magisterial history, “if one divides the 5,000 years of human civilization into ten periods of five centuries each, during the first nine of these the world’s leading city was in one of the three regions of current day Iraq”—or to use its Greek name, Mesopotamia. 

Inspired by extensive reporting from the region to spend a decade delving deep into its history, Bull chronicles the story of Iraq from the exploits of Gilgamesh (almost certainly an historical figure) to the fall of the Iraqi monarchy in 1958 that ushered in its familiar modern era. The land between the rivers has been the melting pot and battleground of countless outsiders, from the Akkadians of Hammurabi and the Greeks of Alexander to the Ottomans of Suleiman the Magnificent. Here, by the waters of Babylon, Judaism was born and the Sunni-Shia schism took its bloody shape.

Central themes play out over the millennia: humanity’s need for freedom versus the co-eternal urge of tyranny; the ever-present conflict and cross-fertilization of East and West with Iraq so often the hinge. We tend to view today’s tensions in the Middle East through the prism of the last hundred years since the Treaty of Versailles imposed a controversial realignment of its borders. Bartle Bull’s remarkable, sweeping achievement reminds us that the region defined by the land between the rivers has for five millennia played a uniquely central role on the global stage.

The epic, five millennia history of the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that was the birthplace of civilization and remains today the essential crossroads between East and West

At the...


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EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780802162502
PRICE $35.00 (USD)
PAGES 576

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