Historical Dictionary of Iraq
Historical Dictionaries of Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East, No. 44
Over the past decade or so, and especially since the Gulf War, there has been a tendency for the focus on Iraq to get narrower and narrower. Indeed, many foreign politicians, aided and abetted by the media, seem to equate it to one man: Saddam Husayn. Although he might not mind this, Iraq is infinitely larger and more varied. In fact, it is a fairly big country, with a substantial population coming from diverse origins and holding diverse views, whether or not they could be expressed openly. Indeed, more than might be expected, opposition does exist. And hidden dissension, not blind obedience, seems to have the longer tradition just as discord frequently overshadowed any cohesion. Now that a new, and hopefully happier, era has begun, it is time to look back on the past, with its countless twists and turns, to fathom how Iraq will evolve in the future.
The focus of this historical dictionary of Iraq is broad—impressively so. It reaches all the way back to the earliest civilizations and refers to the many, often less glorious periods that followed. It presents those who created empires and regimes, and those who overthrew or sought to undo them. It sheds lights on many social, religious, cultural, and economic groups and the institutions that were forged to hold them together, albeit not always effectively. And it culminates with the fall of the Ba’th regime.
This broad view is obviously more helpful than the old narrow focus. It is reflected through numerous dictionary entries on persons, places and events, organizations and institutions, and economic, social, and religious phenomena. The chronology, vital in this case, traces one of the world’s longest histories. The bibliography permits even broader reading.
This impressively broad presentation of Iraq was written by Edmund Ghareeb and Beth Dougherty, who collaborated closely with him. As a journalist, Dr. Ghareeb followed and wrote on events in the Middle East, including Iraq.
Since 1982, as an academic, he has been lecturing and writing on the same topics, with an emphasis on Kurdish studies. He has taught at the American University, where he is at present, along with Georgetown University and others.
Beth Dougherty is a professor of international relations at Beloit College, where she also specializes in Middle East affairs. Together they have formed an inimitable team who have produced this unique and very long-awaited Historical Dictionary of Iraq.