Book Review: The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk March 19, 2007Posted by Andreas in Book Reviews, History.
My rating: 8 out of 10 – insightful and shockingly tragic.
For the last thirty years or so, Robert Fisk has been the English-language correspondent in the Middle East and The Great War for Civilisation – The Conquest of the Middle East is his monumental masterpiece.
This is not the kind of book you are likely to finish on a lazy long weekend. It’s heavy, both in size (1368 pages!) and content, and will leave you shocked and terrified. Even if you have kept abreast with developments in the Middle East over the last few decades, this book provides first-hand insights and between-the-lines details from one of the greatest, old-school investigative journalists and war reporters of our time that will keep you turning the pages.
Fisk has seen it all. He was there when the Russians invaded Afghanistan; during the eight year long Iraq-Iran war he spend harrowing days under fire with both the Iraqi and Iranian armies; he has interviewed Osama bin Laden three times and he was the last western journalist to enter Baghdad before the start of the second Gulf War.
This book is part history, part personal testimony and part political analysis from an engaged and angry writer who has remained steadfast in his condemnation of the horrors of war, genocide, oppression and injustice whoever the perpetrators or aggressors may be.
Fisk’s compassion for the thousands of innocent victims shines through in all of his work. He is not the kind of reporter who is content with being “embedded” with an invading army and he is not the kind of reporter who is prepared to sit on the fence or the sidelines. He tells it how he sees it. He does not simply repackage the latest government press release, but insists on visiting the morgues and the hospitals and the missile impact sites himself – even at grave danger to his life.
This book is required reading for anyone who cares about what is happening in the Middle East, but be warned: its pages are stained with blood and littered with accounts of murder, torture and atrocities. Fisk insists on telling the gory details of the human tragedy that has pervaded so much of Middle Eastern history because no body else will.