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The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 (Essential Histories) Paperback – 25 Apr 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (25 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841763713
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841763712
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 0.6 x 25.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Efraim Karsh delivers a very helpful and knowledgeable account of the bloody and costly conflict which affected the Middle East during the 1980s. The Iran-Iraq War was to be a personal war between President Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Essential Histories format is a good way to read up on a particular historical era or event for those with a limited amount of time, or alternatively, still being in an early phase of exploration and looking for a first overview. The current book is no different - it will give you a good overview of the bloodiest third world post WW2 conflict, namely the ill-conceived Iran - Iraq War from 1980 to 1988.

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 ›
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Very readable and informative (and concise, it's not very long) account of one the bloodiest wars of the twentieth century. It's part of a series on military history, which in a way, as the author acknowledges, limits its usefulness as the war, for both sides, was far more a political battle than anything else. The politicians in both Tehran and Baghdad rarely allowed their generals to conduct the war in the way they wanted, and this tended to prolong the agony of the people on both sides. The conflict was very important in bolstering support for the Islamic Republic at home and in consolidating the alliance between Saddam Hussein and the west. The scale of suffering that resulted is still hinted at in the battlefields of eastern Iraq today - mines being just one very dangerous scar. Kissinger famously remarked that "it's a pity both sides can't lose" which sadly reflects an all too prevalent inhuman indifference of the US and the international community to the Iraqi and Iranian people.
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At the end of this book I had learned a lot about the background to this war. What struck me was the conflict was basically between two ruthless, vindictive men who believed themselves above civilised behaviour and normal humanity. As a consequence many ordinary people suffered horribly.
A very good book that was easy to read.
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This book is a concise summary of what happened over 8 years, longer than WW2. It is not biased. Good description and analysis of major battles. One can be amazed at how little the 2 sides had actually done during that 8 years.
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