The Rope

The Rope

Book - 2016
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A Shi'ite militiaman who has never received answers about the father who disappeared in Saddam Hussein's gulag years earlier participates in the dictator's execution in ways that profoundly change his life and reflect the politics and violence of America's war in Iraq.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781101870471
1101870478
Branch Call Number: FIC MAKIYA 2016
Characteristics: ix, 319 pages ; 22 cm

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tritonesub Mar 27, 2016

Hindsight is 20/20. And what if it showed that you were somehow connected to the death of half a million people? That was the question I had when I started reading this book. Mr. Makiya was undoubtedly one of the strongest proponents of the U.S. military invasion in Iraq in 2003. Reading the many interviews he had given, my thoughts were that he was a "foreigner" Iraqi who pointed out the atrocities Saddam Hussein's regime had committed, set about convincing the major players to depose Saddam Hussein, which set off a cascade of events which spun completely out of control.

This book is fiction, and I am glad for that since it allows the reader to empathize with the characters. It also allowed me to put some distance between the role the author played in the events, and the book itself. Are the characters based on Mr. Makiya and those he knew? Is this book a mea culpa, or an effort to paint the Iraqi elite as the real culprit? It could be all those things, or none. What the book showed me were the emotional turmoil of those living in Najaf and Baghdad, the friendships, relationships between fathers and sons, between brothers, the betrayals, and the psychological cost of being in that environment which ultimately leads to the loss of humanity. And it can be extremely moving, and very sad.

At this point in time, we know that deposing a leader will not automatically open the door to a functional democracy. Democracy will not rise out of a vacuum. Economy, demography, religion, language, national identity and so many other factors have to be dealt with first, before one can even begin to think of nudging a particular nation toward functional democracy. By humanizing those in the cauldron, and shedding light onto the mundane, perhaps this book allows the world to better understand the situation so that we do not make the same mistakes again. Don't miss the Personal Note at the end of the book.

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