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Banking on Baghdad--header

  2004 Dona Gracia Medal for Best Book of The Year Best World Affairs Book 2004

Every hour spent reading Banking on Baghdad will be well rewarded. The historical detail is fascinating; Edwin Black’s mastery of it reads like a detective story and thriller combined, and the relevance of the past has seldom been so graphically portrayed. This is a gripping exposé of historic follies, fantasies and ferocity, taking place in a region that is today still a focus and storm center as it has so often been. Oil forms a twisting thread of wealth, corruption and greed. The cast of characters and their bizarre behavior could come out of a novel; but this is fact not fiction, more endlessly intriguing and absorbing than any novel could be.

Sir Martin Gilbert author of Churchill: a Life, Israel: A History,
First World War, and Second World War


In Banking on Baghdad, New York Times and international bestselling author Edwin Black chronicles the dramatic and tragic history of a land long the center of world commerce and conflict. Tracing the involvement of Western governments and militaries, as well as oil, banking, and other corporate interests, Black pinpoints why today, just as throughout modern history, the world needs Iraq's resources-and remains determined to acquire and protect them. Banking on Baghdad almost painfully documents the many ways Iraq's recent history mirrors its tumultuous past.

Banking on Baghdad is the first history of Iraq presented in a global context. Woven through the boardrooms and war rooms of London, Paris, Berlin, Istanbul, Washington, and the other centers that set the agenda for its tragic history, Black has pieced together the corporate hegemony, oil politics, religious extremism, Nazi alliances, and intersecting global upheaval--all with a compelling, contemporary perspective.

Now, with foreign troops once more occupying the "cradle of civilization," Banking on Baghdad gives us the opportunity to consider the present and future of Iraq through the lens of its complicated and turbulent history. While demonstrating that Iraq's tribal, religious, and political turmoil has combined to punish the nation, Black does not shy away from the uncomfortable truth that foreign governments--including our own--have played a defining role in creating the Iraq we know today. With his trademark mix of deeply mined history and investigative journalism, Black documents a long record of war profiteering in Iraq and takes a hard look at the corporations currently doing business there. With access to numerous oil company archives, the papers of a half dozen governments, and numerous other primary sources yielding some 50,000 documents gathered by an international team of some 30 researchers, Banking on Baghdad promises to tell a monumental story 7,000 years in the making. Banking on Baghdad has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Vivid characters bring Banking on Baghdad to life. The followers of Islam consumed Iraq as the epicenter of a struggle between the minority Shiites and the Sunnis. The Mongol chieftain Hulagu utterly destroyed Iraq, but its remnant later came back to life. Winston Churchill solidly set the course of British petropolitics and military oil dependence on a collision course with Iraq and Iran, as the government-controlled company that became British Petroleum literally invented the geopolitical Middle East. During World War I, the British invaded Iraq for the oil they knew one day would be indispensable to all industry and militaries. C. S. Gulbenkian, the legendary Mr. Five Percent, through intrigue and high-drama created the Red Line Agreement monopoly, dividing Iraq's fabulous oil wealth between British, American, and French cartels. The Hashemites, from Sharif Hussein and King Faisal to his brutally-murdered progeny, fought alongside Lawrence of Arabia to achieve independence in Syria, but were given Iraq instead; in consequence the Arabs aborted a planned peaceful co-existence with Israel. The Mufti of Jerusalem, in his war against Zionism, using Iraq's oil and strategic location as bait, sealed an alliance with Hitler during World War II and lead a pro-Reich coup in Baghdad met by a British invasion to oust it. The post-World War II Ba'ath predecessors of Saddam Hussein ravaged Iraq's minorities and paved the way for the recently-deposed tyrant.

After Banking on Baghdad, no reader will ever see Iraq the same.


Copyright © 2004 – 2024 Edwin Black
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be used in any form or by any means - graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval systems - without the written permission of the publisher.