"If you can’t read my entire book, don’t read it at all,” Edwin Black warns his readers. Banking on Baghdad is indeed as compulsive as a thriller, breathlessly sweeping through seven thousands years of Iraqi history.
The book begins and ends with the American invasion in 2003, but the ‘cradle of commerce and civilisation’ now known as
When it comes to the 20th century, “the drums of war and the drums of oil…in
Black’s books are famous for their meticulous detail. For Banking on Baghdad Black employed 30 researchers across numerous time zones ‘to triple-check every fact and footnote every paragraph.’ The book ‘s footnotes do indeed take up almost 100 pages.
Jewish readers will find Chapter 17 of particular interest. It chronicles the rise of antisemitism through the 1930s and 40s, the pernicious influence of Fritz Grobba, the German Charge d’Affaires in Baghdad - Grobba was an acronym for his real name, A. Borg - the influence of a group of pro-Nazi Iraqis called the Golden Square and the outbreak in 1941 of the two day- anti-Jewish pogrom known as the Farhoud, 65 years ago this year. As Black puts it,‘More than two thousand years of historic coexistence abruptly shattered like a fragile knee.’
The part the Jews played in
Considering the dearth of material in English on