4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A necessary, chastening ordeal,
This review is from: The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East (Paperback)
Robert Fisk's gargantuan tome is a testament to two extremes of human behaviour, specifically the opposing poles of unheeding relentless brutality and grim perseverance in pursuit of truth. It is a highly dispiriting read it has to be said, and at the end of it, one really has to resist the impulse to give up and hide under a duvet for ever. Charting his 30 years as a foreign correspondent covering the middle east, Fisk covers all the major events and conflicts that have occurred since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Khomeini revolution in Iran, whilst providing wider historical context for these conflicts.
Fisk has been accused of bias and lacking impartiality but this is not borne out by the book itself. Fisk is primarily concerned with the human cost, with the victims, whoever they are, and with exposing the perpetrators to merciless scorn, again whether they are Christians or Muslims or Jews. Yes, his criticism of the West (principally America and Britain) and Israel is scathing but the hypocrisy of our governments in many of their foreign policy exploits is fit for such withering scorn. But he is also equally unforgiving of the brutality and sadism of the regimes of Hussein, Khomeini, extremist Islamists, anyone who kills or maims civilians and children, anyone who devastates whole cities, anyone who tortures or rapes, anyone who spouts religious or political jargon to excuse, justify or cover up atrocities. So, for the record he is not as bluntly anti American or anti- British as some make out; he credits President Carter in his dealings with Iran and Churchill and Wilson over their attitude to the Armenian genocide by the Turks during WWI.
Fisk writes in the spirit of Hazlitt, revolted by `the lie', realpolitik, expediency, whatever you want to call it, that allows the same old compromises and disputes to continue. Highly recommended but be warned - it's gruelling.