The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 (Essential Histories) Paperback – 25 Apr 2002
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About the Author
Efraim Karsh is Professor and Head of the Mediterranean Studies Programme at King's College, University of London. He has held various academic posts at the Sorbonne, the London School of Economics, Columbia University, Helsinki University and Tel-Aviv University. Professor Karsh has published extensively on Middle Eastern affairs, Soviet foreign policy and European neutrality.
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Karsh explains how and why the war began, highlighting and emphasizing the role political survival was to play in the motivation of both leaders. He covers how the war was initially a 'limited war' by Saddam Hussein, targeting military objectives in Iran and ignoring strategic targets (this was to change).This met with some success but by 1982, the Iranian military and Pasdaran were pushing the Iraqis back towards their own borders. The fortunes of both belligerents were to waver over the next six years with both Iran and Iraq gaining and losing the momentum. Mr. Karsh also documents how the war was to become static, with the Iranian attack faltering due to non-cooperation between the military and the Pasdaran as well as the Iraqi military's inability to decide on tactics and strategy.
There are also social and economic aspects covered by the author who relates how the war was to effect the population of both nations. Iraq was in a much stronger position militarily due to much international funding and backing, while Iran was to struggle for the required hardware, relying on devotion and 'martyrdom' to win victory. By the end of 1988, both Iran and Iraq were at the very limits of economic collapse and in need of heavy investment to repair the social and economic damage. Karsh also covers the so called 'War of the Cities' as well as the 'Tanker War' strategies. There is even very interesting data concerning United States involvement and the final decision by Iran to accept the ceasefire.
With interesting cultural information and further reporting of how both regimes dealt with domestic resistance, Karsh produces a very interesting and evocative read. Well done.
The author covers the background and reasons for the conflict, and fortunately goes beyond the standard sound bites of just the historical conflict between Persia and the Arab world, or Shia and Sunni interpretations of Islam. Following this are several sections, looking at the military preparedness, the aims of both sides and finally the conflict itself. In such an abridged retelling of an almost nine year long conflict you cannot expect much detail on specific battles or overall ebbs and flows of the battlefield month by month. It is - as to be expected from the series - an overview only.
The book then ends with several mini chapters of analysis, for instance one interviewing Basij PoWs for their reasons in joining, or one on the effectiveness of the military forces and the failures of Saddam's strategic thinking.
The military analysis may fall somewhat short of what I hoped for and there you will be much better served by books such as Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 (Studies in War, Society, and the Militar): Military Effectiveness,1948-1991, or by more air force focused volumes such as ...Read more ›
A very good book that was easy to read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some fact-checking and editing is needed but otherwise it provides solid explanations of an under-studied war. Clearly the Middle East is still living with the consequences.Published 9 months ago by R. Macpherson
A most interesting read, on a long war which didn't recieve much cover at the time...Published 16 months ago by Easy2sugar
An excellently written history of the Iraq-Iran War with good maps giving one a clear guide to this conflict.Published 23 months ago by Mr. O. D. Pickmere
I knew very little about this conflict.
This book not only described the actions but
also commented on the causes and the motives of
all the players involved.
This concise and compact book is just the thing for the average history reader. The events leading to the open conflict is summed up beautifully. Read morePublished on 28 May 2010 by Ogun Eratalay